Barcodes vs RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags are two different forms of technology used in various industries for tracking and identification purposes. RFID has gone to the world and has been adopted by more enterprises. So have Barcodes been phased out? The answer is no. Barcode has been around for so long that it cannot be easily replaced. By understanding each option’s features, businesses can make the best decision when it comes to purchasing the right technology solution for their needs.

What is An Barcode and RFID?

About Barcode

Barcode is one method. It is a way of representing data in a visual, machine-readable form. It has two types: one-dimensional (1D) Barcodes and two-dimensional (2D) Barcodes. It consists of a combination of black bars, white bars and numbers, and each number within it has a different meaning.

It will usually be read by a bar scanner. A bar scanner is a device that captures and decodes a Barcode to obtain the information within it. The bar scanner uses a beam of light to scan the Barcode to capture the information. And then transmits the information in real time to a host computer or tablet. It tracks items from manufacture to sale and beyond throughout their life cycle.

We can conclude from Grand View Research search’s report on barcode readers. The growing popularity of QR codes and the adoption of scanners for inventory control and business intelligence for business process optimization are expected to drive growth. During the COVID-19 explosion, there has been a gradual increase in contactless payments and contactless payment solutions. It is also driving the adoption of barcode readers in businesses.

Barcode is a very common label
Barcode is a very common label

Components of RFID

RFID is a technology. It identifies and tracks tags attached to objects through radio waves. RFID typically consists of two components: the tag and a reader with an antenna.

An RFID reader typically has one or more antennas that transmit and receive signals from the RFID tag. An RFID tag can actively or passively transmit data via radio waves to the user holding the RFID reader.

RFID labels come in three manifestations, active RFID tags, semi passive RFID tags and passive RFID tags. Batteries power active RFID tags. Passive RFID tags “pass” the power through the RFID reader. Passive RFID tags are the most popular compared the two because they are smaller and less expensive to implement.

RFID tag internal structure display
RFID tag internal structure display

Barcode VS RFID: Their Similarities

Both Barcode VS RFID can effectively assist companies in tracking their assets. They can store item information. This information is typically printed on a tag and read by a fixed or mobile device (scanner or reader). Companies can store, access and share this information through an online platform – The Internet. The ubiquity of RFID is especially evident in commercial use. Various stores widely adopt Barcode VS RFID tags.

Barcodes can only scan one item at a time. RFID can scan multiple item tags simultaneously with a single reader or scanner.

RFID VS Barcode: The Differences Between Them

Barcodes require the scanner to be nearby and in line of sight with Barcode. RFID does not require a direct line of sight, as long as the scanner is within a specific range to read the tag easily.

Barcode is typically printed on adhesive or paper and must be attached to the item’s surface. RFID tags can be embedded in a plastic or inside objects and are more durable than Barcodes.

Barcodes are limited by the type and amount of data they can store and can only store a small amount. RFID can store up to 2,000 bytes of data in a single tag.

Barcodes read data information. RFID operates by reading and writing data information.

RFID VS Barcode: Advantages and Disadvantages

Barcode Advantages

  • Barcoding is a simple and cost-effective solution widely used in many industries.
  • Barcodes are a universal technology that is very easy to use.
  • It is common, and no privacy issues are associated with its use.
  • Barcodes mitigate the possibility of human or other errors.
  • Barcodes are very reliable and can be scanned quickly and accurately.
  • It is lighter and cheaper.

Barcode Disadvantages

  • Must be scanned in a straight line by a scanner
  • Short read range, product and Barcode scanner must be close to scan the Barcode.
  • It can store very little data.
  • It is more susceptible to damage.
  • It is more likely to be copied or counterfeited.

RFID Advantages

  • RFID can read multiple tags at once.
  • RFID can read data over long distances.
  • RFID tags are much smaller and can be applied to items of any size or shape.
  • RFID labels can be reused.
  • RFID tags contain more data, providing businesses with more detailed information about their products.
  • RFID data is highly secure, and it is encrypted.
  • RFID is more durable.

RFID Disadvantages

  • Materials such as liquids and metals can affect the reading of RFID signals.
  • RFID is prone to accidentally scanning other data.
  • Prone to tag conflicts.
  • RFID tags are relatively more expensive to purchase.

Both asset tracking technologies, RFID VS Barcode, have advantages and disadvantages. In terms of speed, RFID allows companies to keep track of inventory faster than Barcodes. In terms of accuracy, human error is more likely to occur because Barcodes require manual reading. If the item that needs to be labelled is metal, you may want to prioritize using Barcodes. RFID may not be as accurate in the face of metal objects. But in most cases, RFID is exceptionally accurate for inventory. When choosing between RFID VS Barcode, you must consider a lot, such as purpose, environment, and potential cost.

When can Barcode VS RFID Work Together?

Barcode to RFID Conversion

RFID is a relatively expensive technology, so they need to invest a lot of money. Not all companies have the funds to move their entire business directly to the newer technology. The changeover is not an overnight process either, and it takes a long time to convert slowly. In this process, the update is usually taken first to update the more beneficial parts of the company. Later, other parts are updated when more funding is available. In this case, Barcode and RFID coexist.

Barcodes can be combined with RFID tags
Barcodes can be combined with RFID tags

Different Working Environments make Barcode VS RFID Coexist

Not all work environments are suitable for RFID. Metal can affect the propagation of RFID signals. A company with a work environment containing only metal items will not be suitable for RFID. In contrast, Barcodes are better to use. It is unlikely that all work environments in a company will contain only metal objects. The rest of the company’s operations can use RFID technology. This allows Barcode VS RFID to appear in the same company.

Barcode VS RFID to appear in the same company
Barcode VS RFID to appear in the same company

Some Parts Of The Company May Not Need to Use RFID

It’s not a matter of updating the technology. A company has multiple supply chain, engineering, and human resources departments. The role of each department is different, and some departments may not need to be updated and can be maintained as they are. For example, the supply chain department must be updated. And other departments can choose whether to update according to their requirements.

The supply chain is the most crucial department in a company that produces and transports products. Updating Barcodes to RFID tags will allow the company to manage its inventory more efficiently. It is possible that the engineering or human resources departments may not be ready to make this change for their own or other reasons. Upgrading to RFID may not have a significant impact on some departments. They will choose to stick with Barcodes. Then both Barcode and RFID will exist.

Barcode vs RFID:RFID is better than Barcode in supply chain
Barcode vs RFID:RFID is better than Barcode in supply chain

Use RFID for Plan A and Barcode for Plan B

To do any deployment plan, you need to prepare two plans. When one fails, the other can be filled in time. There may be malfunctions or vandalism in the process of using RFID technology. The company’s operations will be significantly affected if no other solution is available.

Barcodes are the best plan B. They need to be on the product at the same time. This means the product will have both Barcode VS RFID tag. When the RFID fails, they can use a scanner to capture the product data. Inspect and repair the RFID at the same time. Printing Barcodes on RFID tags allow companies to avoid accidents that can cause severe damage.

Barcodes vs RFID tags can appear on the same product
Barcodes and RFID tags can appear on the same product

Barcode VS RFID: Which One is Better for Asset Tracking?

I believe you understand both RFID VS Barcode entirely through the above information. Regarding inventory tracking, the Barcode is a relatively inexpensive technology. The public readily accepts it. RFID is an upgraded version of Barcodes that offers greater efficiency, speed and accuracy. It is more suitable for companies to create inventory tracking systems quickly. It can reduce the workload of employees and increase their productivity.

If you open a small store, using a Barcode to track inventory will be more suitable. This is because the expense cost will be much higher with RFID technology. RFID is your best helper if you plan to open a large shopping mall or logistics company. Because of the variety and quantity of commodities, using Barcodes requires a lot of human resources. It takes a long time to create a sound inventory system. It can scan multiple tags at once. Using RFID to track your items will significantly reduce the time you spend tracking your existing inventory. It can shorten your preparation time and allow you to open your business in less time.

What do We Need to Consider When Buying Barcode VS RFID Tags and Where to Buy Them?

There are many channels to buy Barcode VS RFID tags in the market. You can visit some regular online platforms such as, Amazon and Xinyetong is a professional manufacturer and exporter of smart cards and RFID tags. They have established strategic partnerships with world-renowned semiconductor corporations like Philips, ISSI, etc.

Tag selection by Barcode VS RFID comparison
Tag selection by Barcode VS RFID comparison

If you need to buy RFID tags, you can choose to buy RFID tags and Barcodes according to the style or shape you want and the cost. You must consider more if you need to buy many custom Barcode VS RFID tags. You need to consider your production environment and product materials for production. Geographical factors, the need to meet the procurement and production convenience. The company development strategy also needs to consider cost-effectiveness and return on investment. You need to know your product better to pick the correct label.

As RFID matures, many companies are faced with deciding whether to convert from Barcode technology to RFID. Updating the technology is the best option at this stage. However, it is best to consider how best to use both technologies in conjunction with the company’s development of Barcode VS RFID. They are both competitors but also the best partners.

More about RFID vs Barcode Questions

  • Will Barcodes be Replaced by RFID?

You might have heard that a barcode is cheaper than an RFID tag, but that’s not entirely true. While it is true that RFID tags are more expensive than their barcode counterparts, they cost less in the long run. RFID tags are much more durable and dependable than barcodes. Barcodes can be damaged by water and UV light, while RFID tags don’t face any of those issues. They also have a longer life span than barcodes, with some lasting up to 20 years!

Barcodes are made using ink and paper, meaning they can easily be damaged by water or other substances. Plus, they only last for about 5 years before needing to be replaced! While an RFID tag would be more expensive than a barcode because it has more parts (such as an antenna), you’ll find that they’re pretty affordable compared to other options on the market!

  • Is Barcode Better than RFID?

In fact, many companies realize the benefits of using RFID technology for their applications. RFID is much more flexible than barcodes, so it’s perfect for situations when you need to track something that might move around or be otherwise difficult to capture. If you’re looking for a way to track objects and identify them quickly, then RFID is better than barcodes.

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