Goodbye barcodes – hello RFID

The RFID device serves the same purpose as a bar code or a magnetic strip on the back of a credit card or ATM card; it provides a unique identifier for that object. And, just as a bar code or magnetic strip must be scanned to get the information, the RFID device must be scanned to retrieve the identifying information.


If it has the same purpose, why use RFID?

A significant advantage of RFID devices over the others mentioned above is that the RFID device does not need to be positioned precisely relative to the scanner. We’re all familiar with the difficulty that store checkout clerks sometimes have in making sure that a barcode can be read. And obviously, credit cards and ATM cards must be swiped through a special reader.

Removing actual physical contact or precise positioning for scanning makes them frictionless for your business.

RFID devices will work within a few feet up to 100 feet for high-frequency devices of the scanner, a major benefit. Typically RFID 15-20 times faster than manual and barcode processes.

What are the advantages of RFID compared to barcode?

Although RFID is more costly than barcode, it proves to be indispensable for a variety of automated applications involving data acquisition and object identification.

No line-of-sight contact necessary
The major advantage of all kinds of RFID system is that they work contactlessly and require no line of sight.

Robust system
Transponders can be read through a whole number of substances, e.g. snow, fog, ice, paint, dirt, and in difficult constructional scenarios where barcodes or other optical reading technologies would be no use at all.

Speed of an RFID system
RFID transponders can be read at remarkable speed even in difficult conditions, and in most cases respond in less than 100 milliseconds.

Bidirectional communication
The reading/writing capability of an active RFID system is also a significant advantage in interactive applications, e.g. when tracking products in process or maintenance jobs.

Reliability in tough environments
In difficult external conditions RFID has the advantage of being able to communicate contactlessly and without direct line-of-sight contact with the data medium. Where the transponder is doesn’t matter either — it can be read through substances like dust, paint or ice.

Bulk detection
Active and passive systems working at HF and UHF frequencies detect a number of transponders in the field. This property is called bulk capability. In practical terms it means that every data medium needn’t be scanned singly, but is automatically detected during a read operation.


RFID Barcode
Line of Site Not required (in most cases) Required
Read Range Passive UHF RFID:
– Up to 40 feet (fixed readers)
– Up to 20 feet (handheld readers)

Active RFID:
– Up to 100’s of feet or more

Several inches up to several feet
Read Rate 10’s, 100’s or 1000’s simultaneously Only one at a time
Identification Can uniquely identify each item/asset tagged. Most barcodes only identify the type of item (UPC Code) but not uniquely.
Read/Write Many RFID tags are Read/Write Read only
Technology RF (Radio Frequency) Optical (Laser)
Interference Like the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), some RFID frequencies don’t like Metal and Liquids. They can interfere with some RF Frequencies. Obstructed barcodes cannot be read (dirt covering barcode, torn barcode, etc.)
Automation Most “fixed” readers don’t require human involvement to collect data (automated) Most barcode scanners require a human to operate (labor intensive)

One thought on “Goodbye barcodes – hello RFID

  1. Pingback: Major step forward in RFID for retailers and logistics companies | Silverstar Analytics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s