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RFID or Barcode Technology:  Which works best?


The popularity of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is on the rise, and although the set up and operational costs are a bit Warehouse higher than barcoding, the benefits of RFID in the right environment can yield a very positive return on investment.  The first step to determining which technology is right for your business depends on your needs and requirements.   

RFID can be of great benefit in the warehouse, particularly for operations that require forklift operation. Not only is it safer for workers because they don’t have to repeatedly get on and off the vehicle, but it’s more productive for them to be able to move in and around the area without having to worry whether the items they are retrieving or putting away are being scanned properly.

The technology and unit cost of RFID have improved over the last decade, along with reliability, which offers a better user experience.  Here are a few key advantages over barcoding if the requirements are appropriate:

  • Dramatically improves inventory accuracy (some users experienced 40+ percent improvement)
  • Reduces the number of times goods need to be handled manually
  • Items can easily be located, speeding up worker productivity
  • Instances of theft or lost inventory are reduced because item location can be instantly tracked

Additional points about RFID:

  • RFID eliminates human error as it relates to scanning tagged items
  • RFID can record far more data than a barcode (service history, repair data, etc.)
  • RFID readers can scan multiple items in a single sweep
  • With RFID, the code does not have to be visible to the reader in order to scan it
  • RFID is often more secure due to encryption & password protection
  • If the cost of the items being tracked cost less than the cost of an RFID tag, then barcoding may be a better choice

Popular use cases for RFID:

RFID is great for applications where tools and other items are ‘borrowed’ by employees.  Consider a large repair center where tools are constantly being checked in and out.  With RFID tags on these items, the chances of these tools getting lost is minimal because administrators will be able to immediately track their location. This not only saves time but prevents theft and keeps costs low.

If your warehouse manages pallets of goods where serial numbers need to be tracked for each item, then RFID is a more efficient technology because RFID readers can capture each serial number on the entire pallet in one scan.  With barcode technology, an employee would need to scan each barcode on the pallet one at a time.  This also works to keep inventory in check.

Still wondering whether RFID is the right technology for your warehouse?  Read more here, then contact us to discuss further; we’re happy to answer any questions you may have.