When any new technology hits the shelves, individuals and industries are wary. Will this new technology stand up to the hype? Will it be too expensive to implement, or too hard to teach technicians how to use?
All of these fears have brought about some myths that stand in the way of many companies improving their efficiency and lowering costs through RFID adoption. Let’s bust some of those myths:
Myth 1: RFID is too expensive
Technology has much improved, making tags smaller and faster to make than ever. You can expect to make an initial investment for hardware, but after that your investment per chip is pennies. Each tag can cost as little as 10 cents for chip+antenna tags. If you want to add a battery in order for the tag to send out its own signal, the price goes up. For most projects you can use the simple tag that reflects a transmitted signal from your main device.
Myth 2: RFID can track you anywhere
Location security is a huge deal for consumers, employees, and businesses. Businesses want better visibility into what their teams are doing, but not at the expense of RFID following your every move like a drone. Luckily for us, that’s not the case with RFID unless you’ve been tagged with a device with a built-in battery. These are much larger and much more expensive – and big enough that you’d notice them. In reality, most tags need to be within a few feet of the tracking device in order to show up in your system.
Myth 3: RFID tags will replace barcodes completely
Barcodes are cheap and easy, and there will always be a reason to use them. Because of this, they’re not going away completely. What you should be aware of is how the two overlap, and how RFID works better for some jobs. Barcodes really work best for manual scanning in brick and mortar retail stores for individual purchases, and single scans of multiple items. However, moving and tracking lots of inventory or devices across several locations quickly grows beyond the powers of manual barcode scanning and into the realm where RFID really shines.
Myth 4: RFID is only for the manufacturing and supply chain spheres
RFID works great for retail and inventory where high volumes of product move quickly and have a high loss rate. But RFID tags also work great for lots of other industries.
- Field service management teams can use RFID to geolocate inventory within vehicles and ensure teams are in the right place.
- Healthcare can use RFID to track medical instruments in hospitals and care facilities, and track high-value pharmaceuticals.
- Companies with large paper filing systems can use RFID to locate individual files.
- Will you run a marathon or 5K this year? You’ll wear an RFID race tracking chip on your shoes or vest.
- If you live in a state with a toll road system, you probably have an RFID reader in your car.
- And RFID tags are often used in the cattle and livestock industries to track assets – literally in the field!
The list goes on, and companies are finding new ways to use RFID every day.
Myth 5: RFID tags are fragile
Because of their size and shape, they can be placed anywhere. You might find RFID tags sewn into the seams of your clothes to track inventory within a department store (don’t worry, they’ll only work for the store they’re programmed for). Others are small and thin enough to be placed seamlessly within cracks on an item where they don’t impede movement or get ripped off. Some tags are made with special high-temperature or high stress coatings and can be used for particularly punishing conditions.
Myth 6: RFID technology is too complicated
Sure, you’ll need to buy some hardware – the tags and your tracking devices – but most RFID systems work directly with a company’s inventory management and ERP software. Configure the tags, attach them to inventory, and start reporting almost immediately. While it can sound super high-tech to put a chip in something, it’s more common and more useful than you might think, which is why it’s everywhere.
RFID can save your team money and hassle in the long run. So don’t be scared of this technological bogeyman. RFID has reduced inventory loss and increased revenue while lowering the human labor costs for many businesses.
Tamara Scott is Research and Content Manager for TechnologyAdvice.com. She writes about the intersection of technology, business, and education in Nashville, TN.