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RFID and Barcodes Comparison

The use of barcodes has become an indispensable part of the business world. Barcodes were developed and first used in the 1970s, and since then they have been widely used worldwide (Roberti, 2017). As for the RFID technology, it has been in place for 15 years, and only 5% of organizations use them. Nevertheless, those who utilize these technologies are likely to use them effectively in the future (Swedberg, 2017). According to a recent study, companies choose RFID technology, as well as barcodes system, as these tools translate into a more efficient inventory management and overall supply chain management. Both technologies have a tag and a reader. They also have a similar function as they enable companies to track various items.

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Nevertheless, these two systems have quite significant differences. One of the major difference is mobility. Barcodes have to be right in front of the reader to be properly read while RFID technology enables people to use the reader as far as several feet from the tag. Moreover, barcodes can be processed one after another. However, RFID readers can process several items simultaneously, which significantly increases their efficiency. Besides, the amount of data available also differs. RFID technologies are more efficient in this respect as the system can process different types of data. Any details that are valuable for the process can be included, for example, item’s name, location, shelf life, temperature, number of changes or repairs, and so on. This feature makes RFID technologies applicable in the sphere of safety and maintenance. The use of RFID can be beneficial when handling hazardous materials or high-value products as people can monitor the conditions as well as a particular location of their items. The latest RFID systems have readers that are compatible with certain smartphones.

Furthermore, the types of tags also differ in these two inventory tracking systems. Barcodes can be adjusted as tags or can be print directly on plastic or paper products or package. RFID codes are adjusted through chips, but the most recent devices can be chipless as they can reflect radio waves beamed by certain liquids (Swedberg, 2017). Importantly, RFID chips are reusable as it is possible to re-program them.

However, one of the most significant differences between the two systems making it less attractive to companies is their price. The use of barcodes is affordable as compared to RFID technologies. Nevertheless, the functions and capabilities offered by the two methods are also very different. Therefore, more and more organizations choose the RFID technology to make their supply chain management more effective (Swedberg, 2017). This is specifically true for organizations that have to handle large inventories.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that companies should choose between the use of barcodes or RFID focusing on the size of their inventory, the nature of processes managed, as well as resources available. Barcodes can be regarded as a common tool that can still be applicable in many settings. The affordability of this technology is one of the major factors contributing to its popularity. However, companies that have large inventories or high-value products should consider using RFID as this technology ensures the necessary control over items’ location and conditions. However, there are chances that RFID systems will gradually replace the barcode technology as people need to process larger amounts of data.


Roberti, M. (2017). When RFID becomes obsolete. RFID Journal. Web.

Swedberg, C. (2017). More than 60 percent of manufacturers to use RTLS, RFID or bar-code tracking by 2022, says Zebra Technologies. RFID Journal. Web.

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