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RFID VS BARCODES: Advantages and disadvantages comparison.

Writer:GERRY C. SHIHDate:2015-11-05

Abstract:

While manufacturers currently employ two forms of automated data collection: barcodes and RFID systems; there is much hype as to whether RFID will end up taking over the barcode. One data collection method is not essentially better than the other; they do both carry product information however both differ a great amount.

                     barcode                     RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification)


 

What is it?
A barcode is a visual representation of data that is scanned and interpreted for information. Each barcode contains a certain code which works as a tracking technology for products; and is represented in a sequence of lines or other shapes. Initially this technology was symbolized by the width and spaces between parallel lines that were one dimensional. This then evolved into other geometrical shapes such as rectangles and hexagons that were two dimensional. This barcode technology can be scanned by barcode readers along with newer technology on devices such as smartphones and desktop printers Radio Frequency-Identification technology (RFID) involves a tag affixed to a product which identifies and tracks the product via radio waves.  These tags can carry up to 2,000 bytes of data. This technology has three parts: a scanning antenna, a transceiver with a decoder to interpret the data and a transponder (RFID tag) pre-set with information. The scanning antenna sends out a radio-frequency signal providing a means of communication with the RFID tag.  When the RFID tag passes through the frequency field of the scanning antenna; it detects the activation signal and can transfer the information data in holds to be picked up by the scanning antenna.


Advantages
  • Much smaller and lighter than RFID tags and therefore easier to use.
  • Less expensive than RFID tags; as barcodes are directly printed onto plastic or paper materials and therefore the only cost involved is the ink; a tiny overall cost.
  • Barcodes work with the same accuracy on various materials in which they are placed.
  • Barcodes are a universal technology in that they are the norm for retail products; stores that own a barcode reader can process barcodes from anywhere in the world.
  • In many cases; barcode accuracy has been said to be the same or even better than RFID tags.
  • Today barcodes are found on almost every item and there are no privacy issues involved with its use.
  • Can read RFID tags from a greater distance than barcodes.
  • RFID tags don’t need to be positioned in a line of sight with the scanner.
  • RFID tags can be read at a faster rate than barcodes; as approximately 40 RFID tags can be read at the same time.
  • RFID tags can work within much greater distances; information can be read from a tag at up to 300 ft.
  • RFID tags are read/write devices.
  • RFID contain high levels of security; data can be encrypted, password protected or set to include a ‘kill’ feature to remove data permanently.
  • RFID tags carry large data capabilities such as product maintenance, shipping histories and expiry dates; which can all be programmed to the tag.
  • Once these are set up; it can be run with minimal human participation.
  • RFID tags are more reusable and rugged as they are protected by a plastic cover.

 

From this comparison we can see that both forms of automated data collection have their advantages and disadvantages; and one may be preferable to suit your specific needs; however one can’t be said to be more superior than the other.  Will barcodes slowly be replaced with RFID technology in today’s supply chain? What do you think?

TypeInfo: Industry News

Keywords for the information:RFID  barcode