Here’s Why It’s Time to Ditch Barcodes

Is your company still using Universal Product Code (UPC) barcodes to track assets? If so, it’s time to upgrade.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are where it’s at. They’re more effective, more efficient, and can do a lot to boost your bottom line. You’ll be able to process items faster, get more accurate data, and reduce or completely eliminate human error from your warehousing and inventory processes. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages RFID technology has over old-fashioned barcodes.

Boost Speed and Efficiency

UPC barcodes are a badly outdated means of storing, collecting, and using asset tracking and inventory data. In order to read a barcode, you need to be able to achieve line-of-sight scanning, in which the laser scanner can be pointed directly at the barcode, and usually from only a few feet away. This might work well enough in a retail setting in which customers bring their items to the point of sale to be checked out. But that’s about the only situation in which it’s still feasible, and even that is going the way of the dodo bird due to new “smart” shopping trolleys that allow customers to simply fill up their trolleys and walk out the door, safe in the knowledge that their totals will be added up and automatically billed to their cards on file.

In a warehousing situation, however, you don’t always have access to the UPC barcodes on each individual item — and getting it might mean needing to unpack an entire shipment to scan in items individually. With RFID tags, you don’t need to get a direct line of sight on the RFID tag in order to scan it in. Handheld and fixed RFID readers can detect RFID tags from 20 to 40 feet (six to 12 meters) away, and active RFID tags can be read from as far away as 300 feet (100 meters). RFID tag readers can even read multiple tags at once, so you can scan an entire shipment at once. That can drastically cut the time you spend handling inventory.

Store More Data on Tracking Tags

Barcodes typically can only identify what type of item they’re attached to. They simply aren’t capable of storing and conveying more complex information. That’s why assets typically require sequential tags and detailed, printed bills of lading when barcodes are the primary tool for warehousing and asset management.

RFID tracking eliminates this problem. You can store a wealth of information on an RFID tag. All of your shipping information can go on an RFID tag, which can be easily read and incorporated into your warehousing management system in mere seconds. Not only can you uniquely identify each tagged asset, but you may also be able to collect real-time information during shipping and warehousing. For example, some active RFID tags come with geolocation features that allow you to track shipments in real time. You can collect data on shocks and impacts shipments experience, or track the temperature of your temperature-sensitive items in real time. You’ll get a lot more control over where your shipments go, and what happens to them in transit with the data you can collect on RFID tags. Some tags are even read/write capable, so you can add additional information as necessary.

Automate Warehousing Processes

Because they don’t depend as heavily on human workers to read and interpret tracking information, RFID tags can help eliminate human error. Fixed tag readers don’t even require human oversight, but can detect and read RFID tags and update your database with the appropriate information instantly. There’s no need to worry about employees scanning items incorrectly, or making mistakes when they update paper records or database files. All of that can happen automatically so your inventory is accurate and your assets are always accounted for. And RFID tagging allows you to identify and locate tagged assets in a snap, so tracking the movement of assets and even the whereabouts of your employees is always a breeze.

RFID tags are the wave of the future in shipping, logistics, retail, and a range of other industries. They can help you mitigate human error in your warehousing processes and even automate much of your warehousing to reduce your dependence on human labor. They make it easy to track and find your assets, and keep them in the conditions they require, whether they’re out in transit somewhere or sitting in your warehouse. Make the switch to RFID tracking, and you’ll never want to go back.