Working in the logistics industry, you’ve no doubt heard of RFID plenty, but do you use it to improve operations, and do you understand the ins and outs of this technology?
If the answer is no, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge and learn about some of the key myths about this tool.
Before looking at misconceptions, it’s important to know what Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is. Basically, it’s a type of technology that uses radio-frequency waves to read, identify, and track “tags” attached to objects. Each specially-coded RFID tracking tag contains electronically-stored data, as set up by the user. Tags can attach to clothing, cars, cash, pharmaceuticals, get implanted in pets and people, and be used elsewhere.
Myth: Too Expensive
While there’s a necessary investment in using RFID tags in a business, this technology is much cheaper than it was years ago. Today, RFI is a mainstream adoption that’s affordable even for small businesses. The initial investment to set yourself up with a system is the main cost, as the tags themselves are low cost, starting from mere cents.
Once you factor in the benefits of using RFID tools and the return on investment you can get from streamlining and improving operations, the technology should pay for itself pretty quickly.
Myth: Might as Well Just Use Barcodes
Some people think there’s not much point using RFID tags because they’re not very different from basic barcodes. This, however, is a myth. RFID tags aren’t just “talking” barcodes, but much more powerful than that. They can store more data than an ordinary barcode. A barcode only represents around 10-12 digits, while an RFID tag can handle up to 2KB of data (it equates to around one typewritten page).
Also, RFID tags can be programmed and reprogrammed, making them simple to update as needed. Plus, unlike barcodes, RFID tags don’t need to be in the line of sight of an RFID reader. RFID works much better for moving and tracking inventory or devices across several locations, while barcodes are more for stationery items and simple needs.
Myth: RFID Always Delivers Perfect Information
Another myth is that RFID is 100 percent reliable in delivering the right information. While the tech should work well at all times, people have to input data in the first place. As such, human error can be a factor. The reader is only as good as the information put on the tag in the first place.
In some cases, there may be integration issues, too, if users don’t know what they’re doing or don’t get help to sort systems out. There could also be problems with inefficient system design or occasional double reads or failure-to-reads. However, well-designed tech tools have features that enable them to detect and correct errors, thus reducing such problems.
Myth: RFID Risks Privacy
When you mention RFID to some people, they start talking like this tech is an end to privacy. However, this isn’t the case. If you’re apprehensive about using RFID tags because you worry they invade people’s privacy and enable anyone to “see” what someone bought or where they’re located by simply scanning with a reader, you needn’t be.
Random people with an RFID reader can’t simply check out embedded data on devices. Plus, software is available that renders an RFID tag useless as soon as it leaves a store or warehouse, if that’s something you want to set up.
Myth: The Tech is Too Complicated
We’re all busy and have too many tasks on our to-do lists, so the thought of having to learn and use another new technological system can be off-putting. But don’t believe the myth that RFID tech is too complicated to bother with. You will need to buy some hardware (tags and tracking devices), but most RFID systems these days integrate well with various inventory management and ERP software programs, thus removing some pain points.
It might sound like RFID is super high tech and time-consuming, but in reality, even people with basic tech experience can get this kind of tool set up. Remember that products usually come with the offer of customer support and other assistance, so you can get help if needed.
Myth: RFID Tags are Too Fragile
Ignore the myth that RFID tags are too fragile to be worth using, too. The fact that they’re small and thin means they can be placed anywhere, which is a big part of why they’re so handy. Plus, some tags are made with special high-stress or high-temperature coatings to help them withstand punishing conditions.
Newer, more advanced RFID tags now also overcome some old challenges related to working with metal or liquids. Hard tags today work even in applications involving such materials.
Once you get your head wrapped around RFID technology and start using tags in your business, you’re sure to love how helpful they can be. Understand the truth around these tools before you dismiss them.