Ruddersoft Official Blog - An IT Service Company in India

Pros And Cons Of RFID Solutions

  • Ravi Pal
  • Jul 04, 2023
  • RFID System
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As an AIDC technology, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is known for its track and trace capabilities. Over the last decade, RFID has established itself in the field of automation, leveraging RFID tags for wireless identification and auto data capture. Just like barcoding, an RFID tag can store valuable information such as product name, batch no., expiry date, manufacturing details, etc. except an RFID tag can hold more data than a UPC-12 barcode.

With the cost of an RFID tag coming down to 4-5 US cents per tag from 40-50 cents per RFID label earlier, RFID allows retailers, supply chain and logistics, warehousing, asset tracking, and other businesses to efficiently identify and track items for enhanced visibility and business growth.

RFID readers can wirelessly scan and encode an RFID-tagged item from a distance of up to 12m (UHF Passive RFID), without a clear line of sight which is not possible with barcode technology. A barcode scanner works on optical scanning and needs to be held in close proximity to a barcode-labeled item, with a clear line of sight in order to capture the item details.

RFID technology offers various pros and cons (pro et contra, 'for and against’) when it comes to automation in retail stores and warehouses. Let’s see some of the positive and some of the negative points of RFOD technology that one might consider before implementing the RFID technology in retail stores, healthcare facilities, libraries, society buildings, parking, and office buildings for access control, and various track and trace applications.

RFID does not need human intervention

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology provides automation in various personal and business settings where you need to automatically track and trace a particular item or individual.

RFID technology does not need human intervention because it uses radio frequency signals to capture data from RFID-tagged items. While in action, the RFID reader sends RF (Radio Frequency) signals which are captured by an RFID tag antenna (passive RFID) to activate the microchip inside the RFID tag. The tag then sends the encoded data signals which are captured by the RFID reader and the data is decoded for the end users.

RFID technology offers low-cost automation and is perfectly suitable for small and big businesses capturing tons of data. The huge of data captured from day-to-day operations is then analyzed using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies and the insights and reports provide a great deal of valuable information leading to decisive actions and business growth.

Pros and Cons of RFID Solutions

RFID Advantages

Radio Frequency Identification is revolutionizing the way companies track products. There are many benefactors of this RFID solution i.e. consulting firms, the military, retailers, suppliers, producers of the technology as well as consumers. RFID technology is allowing organizations to automate tasks, reduce labor costs, eliminate supply chain bottlenecks, and reduce human errors and the time spent on manually checking product lifecycle and maintenance needs.

RFID-based solutions are very successful with retail companies because they improve productivity, save on human labor costs, and give companies real-time visibility with all their products. The biggest challenge for producers and consultants alike is the reliability and durability of solutions implemented in retail stores, supply chains, and inventory but RFID eliminates such operational woes and concerns providing accurate data on products and real-time tracking and visibility.

RFID tags can be attached to products, pallets, and containers for quick identification and real-time data syncing with a software system in a warehouse/store. It provides end-to-end tracking of objects from source to destination or end consumers.

Some of the obvious advantages of RFID are as follows:

1. RFID technology allows for automated identification and tracking of items, enabling faster and more efficient processes in various industries.

2. RFID tags can be used to track and manage inventory in real time, providing accurate and up-to-date information on stock levels and locations.

3. It also enables better visibility and traceability of goods throughout the supply chain, improving logistics and reducing errors.

4. RFID systems can provide enhanced security measures, such as authentication and encryption, to protect sensitive data and assets.

5. RFID-tagged items can be read without direct line-of-sight, allowing for easy scanning and tracking of items in challenging environments or hidden locations.

6. These tags are designed to be durable and can withstand harsh environmental conditions, ensuring long-term reliability.

7. RFID systems can read multiple tags simultaneously; some RFID readers can read 1200 tags per second, enabling quick and simultaneous identification of multiple items.

8. RFID technology operates wirelessly, eliminating the need for physical contact between the reader and the tag, improving convenience, and reducing wear and tear.

9. RFID can be integrated with existing systems, such as inventory management and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, making implementation easier and reducing added costs.

10. The technology also provides real-time data capture, allowing for immediate access to accurate information, and enabling better decision-making and responsiveness.

RFID Disadvantages

While there are many benefits of RFID as mentioned above, there are many pitfalls as well. Every level that could benefit from RFID solutions can also attract some drawbacks from the technology. Some of the disadvantages of RFID technology are mentioned below but it must be noted that these complications and drawbacks are situation dependent.

1. High Initial Cost

The initial cost of implementing RFID systems can be high, including the cost of tags, readers, infrastructure, and integration with existing systems.

2. Limited Range

RFID tags have a limited range, typically a few meters, which may restrict their use in certain applications requiring longer-range identification.

3. Interference and Signal Blocking

RFID signals can be affected by interference from other electromagnetic sources or blocked by certain materials, reducing their effectiveness in some environments.

4. Privacy Concerns

RFID technology also raises privacy concerns as it can potentially track and collect data about individuals without their knowledge or consent.

5. Tag Collision

In crowded environments, multiple RFID tags may interfere with each other, leading to tag collision and inaccurate readings.

6. Tag Cost

The cost of RFID tags can be higher compared to traditional identification methods such as barcodes, especially for disposable or low-cost items.

7. Standardization Challenges

There are multiple RFID standards (ISO and EPC global) and interoperability between different systems can be a challenge, requiring careful planning and coordination.

8. Power Dependency

Some passive RFID tags don’t require a power source, while active RFID tags rely on battery power, which may need periodic replacement or recharging.

9. Environmental Impact

The production and disposal of RFID tags can have an environmental impact, including the use of non-renewable resources and electronic waste generation.

10. Data Security Risks

RFID systems can be susceptible to data breaches or unauthorized access if proper security measures are not implemented, potentially compromising sensitive information.

There are five privacy issues that customers must try to protect themselves from:

• Hidden placement of tags

• Unique identifiers for objects worldwide

• Massive data aggregation

• Hidden readers

• Individual tracking and profiling

To conclude, RFID offers tons of benefits in modern times, and various retail and supply chain businesses are actively positively engaging with RFID technology. Retail giants like Walmart, Zara, and Target are implementing RFID tags in their numerous stores across America and Europe. While there are many pros of RFID-based solutions, RFID also poses some data privacy and functionality issues depending on the environment. Once businesses take strong measures and eliminate these issues, RFID can be a beneficial Industry 4.0 technology helping businesses in various market verticals such as retail, healthcare, supply chain and manufacturing, etc.

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