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RFID vs. Barcode – Advantages and Disadvantages

RFID and Barcode technology are two different approaches used for asset tracking or inventory tracking. Each have advantages and disadvantages. William Frick offers services relevant to both RFID and barcode labeling. Knowing the difference can help companies determine which method is best for their customers.
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. Radio waves are used to transfer instructions for RFID tags to a RFID reader. Each tag has a sensor attached that enables the data to transmit to each reader. Because these readers are so unique, they can identify more than 100 single tags without requiring sight visibility. RIFD can scan multiple items in one setting, unlike barcoding.
Barcoding uses a stream of light to gather information from the black and white barcode lines. When this sensor is read, it generates a signal from the reflected light. A decoder translates that signal into a transcript that sends the information to a database or computer. The barcode scanner requires a line of sight for the information to be transmitted.

Advantages & Disadvantages RFID


  • Efficiency- scans multiple items
  • Dependable- can withstand rain and exposure to sun
  • Provides greater security than barcodes


  • Certain materials can alter the signal such as liquid or metal
  • Cost- RFID readers are more expensive than barcode readers
  • The process can be challenging and time consuming

RFID offers three main levels of frequency: low, high, and ultra-high. Low frequency examples are used for animal tracking, and access to “key” control such as office buildings. High frequency can have a read range up to 3 feet. Libraries use RFID high frequency as books are checked out and then returned. RFID can also be used to observe temperatures and other environmental factors. Barcodes are read only, while certain RFID tags can track and store additional information.
Barcodes are usually scanned with a handheld device, one at a time. A few challenges with scanning are damaged labels, reflection or fading from the sun or too dark for the scanner to read. These factors do not matter with RFID applications.
How will you know what works best for your customer? There are benefits and disadvantages to both. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Budget
  • Security on what you will be tracking
  • What is the inventory?
  • Where/how is the inventory stored?

Our specialty at Trident Solutions is product solutions from indoor to outdoor. Check out for various RFID/barcode tags and labels. Feel free to contact us with any questions.