Over the past decade, radio frequency identification (RFID) has become an increasingly popular alternative to barcoding. It provides a vastly more efficient and significantly more accurate way to locate and track inventory, and many industries have been adopting RFID, especially as the required costs have come down.
In this article, HarborTech Mobility has explained why RFID has become the technology of choice for so many companies. We have also described how you can use it to better control and manage your inventory at lower costs, and how to use RFID to locate, track, and maintain valuable assets such as industrial or IT equipment.
RFID’s Advantages Over Barcoding
Barcoding requires manual, line-of-sight scanning of barcodes to identify and track inventory and assets. But RFID uses printed labels or tags equipped with tiny radio transmitters to uniquely identify and track inventory and assets remotely.
Each tag or label contains a unique item ID, and a handheld or RFID reader reads the tag or label remotely, using wireless technology similar to Wi-Fi. With this reader, no line-of-sight scanning or physical access to the tracked asset is required. You can even read an item that’s not visible and is packed inside a box on a pallet.
How RFID Works with Your Systems and Databases
As the RFID reader reads the tag or label, it can also locate the item and match its ID to additional information in your warehouse management system, ERP, or other databases. Software on your RFID reader also allows you to update each item’s status, location, maintenance records, or other relevant information in your systems. This means you can identify, locate, track, and update individual items, cases, and pallets without scanning barcodes and with remarkable efficiency and accuracy. It saves enormous labor while avoiding the risks of human error when using barcode scanning and manual processes.
Workers can simply walk through a warehouse and take a full, automated inventory in as little as minutes or hours, depending on the size of your facility. They can also locate assets, move them to required locations, perform routine maintenance, and update their service records easily.
You can automate these processes further with fixed RFID readers, located above doorways or in a warehouse or store aisles. These allow you to track inventory or assets automatically as they enter your facility, move past each reader, and move through your operations. The readers identify and track each item without human effort, and your RFID software updates related records automatically.
Learning More and Getting Started with RFID
Whether you’re using handheld or fixed readers, RFID automates and significantly reduces the required labor and costs for inventory management and asset tracking. You get all the insights you need to maintain the right stock levels, minimize inventory, and optimize asset utilization and maintenance—all with much less effort and lower labor costs.
RFID requires an up-front technology investment, including an RFID label or tag printer. You’ll also need RFID readers and supporting infrastructure. RFID labels and tags are more expensive than barcode labels, but the huge savings you can achieve in inventory, asset management, and labor costs often deliver an extremely healthy return, especially for higher-value products and assets.
To find out if RFID is the right choice for your business, contact our experts at HarborTech Mobility for a free consultation.