Barcodes have been the go-to solution for scanning and identifying for over 30 years and for good reason, it’s simply cheap and effective. It does, however, have its limitations and in many cases, companies could benefit from swapping to the more multifaceted RFID. The acronym is short for Radio Frequency Identification and the advantages of RFID are many compared to other scanning methods.
The advantages of RFID
Tags do not need line of sight
Since the RFID reader uses radio waves to communicate with the tag it doesn’t have to “see it”. This means that tags can be placed inside the packages where they are less exposed. It also means that you don’t have to point the scanner directly at the tag. With barcode scanners you have to aim, that is not the case with RFID.
RFID readers can read several tags at once
Simultaneous reading allows for more and faster automation. Set up a stationary RFID reader and it can automatically register the arrival of packages and update your database.
The information on RFID tags can be changed
Once you print a barcode it can’t be changed, you have to print a new one and replace it to change the information. With an RFID tag, you can read it, rewrite the data, and update its information. Since RFID tags are both durable and reusable it’s good for the environment as well.
RFID has the potential for a very long range
Some RFID tags are made to be scanned at a range of up to 200 meters (700 ft). These are active RFID tags that run on a high frequency and they have an internal battery that amplifies their signal. As an example, this can be used to perform quick inventory checks over big areas with drones.
Tags can store more data
One of the advantages of RFID is the amount of data they can hold while barcodes are fairly limited in how much information they store. The average RFID tag holds between 64 bytes and 1 kilobyte of data which generally is more than enough. If you need more there are tags that can hold up to 8 KB of data on the market.
The systems are secure
It’s very hard for any outsider to duplicate an RFID tag that is in your system, so you don’t have to worry about fake tags. Additionally, the data on the tags can be encrypted so it’s impossible to read it without having the key for it. This makes it possible to use RFID as a secure locking mechanism.
As you can tell the advantages are many and if you feel like your current barcode system is flawed perhaps you should look into RFID. You can find a deeper comparison of RFID and barcodes here. You can also read more about how RFID is used for animal tagging.