RFID vs. Barcode

The two forms of automated data collection used today are barcode systems and RFID systems, both with advantages and disadvantages.

RFID, or radio frequency technology, uses a tag applied to a product in order to identify and track it via radio waves. The 2 parts that make up the tag are an integrated circuit and an antenna. While the circuit processes and stores information, the antenna transmits signals to the RFID reader, also called an interrogator, in order to interpret the data in the tag.

In contrast, a barcode is an optical representation of data that can be scanned and then interpreted. The data is represented by the width and spacing of parallel lines, and are often used in POS applications, in addition to tracking objects throughout the supply chain.

Advantages of RFID
RFID technology is more comprehensive than barcode technology, allowing tags to be read from a greater distance. In addition, RFID tags can be read much faster than barcodes because barcodes require a direct line of sight, whereas about 40 RFID tags can be read at once.

Advantages of Barcodes
The greatest advantage seen by most companies is that barcodes are cheaper than RFID technology. Barcode tags are also much lighter and smaller than RFID tags, making them easier to use.

While barcodes and RFID technology currently co-exist, many speculate as to whether RFID technology will overtake the barcode. Personally, I don’t think that will happen any time soon, but what do you think?