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January 24, 2007

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Part 2

Advantages of RFID over barcodes

The area of RFID application in commercial space overlaps with that of barcode hence the comparison between the two. The following are some advantages of RFID over barcode:

  • RFID does not require line-of-sight to read and write the tag data.
  • RF signals are capable of traveling through a wide array of non-metallic materials.
  • Can simultaneously capture data from many tags within range of the antenna.
  • RFID tags can be encased in hardened plastic coatings making them extremely durable and able to be tracked through harsh production processes.
  • RFID tags are able to support read/write operations, enabling real-time information updates as a tagged item moves through the supply chain.
  • While a barcode once printed cannot be re-used, the writable RFID tags can be re-used with new data.

Business Benefits of RFID

  • Business benefits of RFID solutions across supply chain include:
  • Optimal inventory and avoidance of over/under stocks
  • Phenomenal savings on labor costs
  • Real-time visibility and enhanced responsiveness
  • Reduces receiving and delivery cycles
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction
  • Reduction in theft and counterfeit

In addition, RFID tags hold much more data than barcode labels. The tag can be programmed to hold information such as an item’s serial number, colour, size, manufacture date and current price, as well as a list of all distribution points the item touched before arriving at a store.

Although retail giants like Wal-Mart, Metro, Tesco and CPG majors like Unilever, P&G and Gillette are in the news and currently drive the mass implementation in concentrating on the supply chain, RFID has been successfully implemented in a variety of other areas like automotive manufacturing, pharmaceutical, livestock, government and military operations.

The Author Ishaq Quadri is the Delivery head at Binary Spectrum.


Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) : Part1

Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID)

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an automatic identification technology used to capture details of products as it is done using barcodes although there are a multitude of advantages in RFID than barcode reading. Technically speaking, using RFID technology, digital data is captured from RFID tags by a reader using radio waves. In simple terms, RFID is similar to bar code technology but uses radio waves to capture data from tags, rather than optically scanning the bar codes on a label.

RFID has been in the headlines due to the directives of major retailers like Walmart, Metro, Tesco, and US Department of Defense asking their major suppliers to attach RFID tags to products before shipping. RFID tag is a small electronic device that stores and transmits information when asked for. It basically comprises of a microchip (that stores the unique ID number that identifies an individual product) and tag antenna (that enables the microchip to transmit ID information to a reader).

A related initiative to RFID is the Electronic Product Code (EPC) which is a unique identifier of products globally. An EPC is a unique number that corresponds with an individual product unit (or container of products) and stored in RFID tag attached to each product. Unlike the current barcode, EPC identifies a product at an item level. EPCGlobal is the body entrusted with the standardization and adoption of EPCs globally.

The emergence of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has important implications for businesses, consumers, as well as policymakers. Companies are turning to RFID to track products, manage warehouse inventory and to stock retail shelves. Consumers are using RFID tags when they travel on highways, purchase gas and groceries, and protect their pets. RFID also has significant potential as a public safety and anti-counterfeiting tool. As the cost of RFID chips declines, new applications of this exciting technology would emerge.


The Author Ishaq Quadri is the Delivery head at Binary Spectrum.