Tracking and managing assets and inventories can be achieved using a variety of technologies, utilizing RFID,BLE, NFC, QR code, barcode, and GPS being popular choices, with each having its own set of pros and cons.
As each business operates differently, it’s important to choose the right technology to fit your unique needs, and in this blog post, we’ll look at them and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each.
RFID - Radio Frequency Identification
RFID, also known as Radio Frequency Identification, uses radio waves to identify and track objects thanks to small radio frequency identification tags that may be pasted or embedded on or within individual items. It is one of the most commonly used tracking technology, especially in the retail industry.
RFID tags can be divided into two types: active RFID, which has its own power source, and passive RFID which receives its power from the reader antennas. Usually, most businesses prefer to use passive RFID tags since they are also more cost efficient.
- Can be used to track large numbers of items.
- RFID doesn’t require a line of sight.
- Tags are typically small and convenient.
- May be embedded in other materials like stickers.
- Long life tags.
- Requires specialized hardware to read.
- RFID tag readers can be expensive.
- Some materials such as liquids or metal can interrupt the regular RFID signal.
BLE - Bluetooth Low Energy
BLE is a form of Bluetooth technology used for short-range communication between devices and designed for applications requiring low power consumption. Bluetooth Low Energy is a great technology for asset tracking and provides additional value with its capabilities.
Along with asset location tracking, BLE can provide data about the status of the tagged item such as temperature, humidity, etc. Hence, BLE has an advantage while tracking sensitive stock such as food and beverage.
- Cost effective.
- Easy to deploy.
- Real time tracking.
- Low power consumption.
- Provide additional information about assets, such as temperature, humidity, light, sound, and movement speed.
- Range limitations.
- Network latency.
- Can be interfered with by other wireless signals.
NFC - Near Field Communication
NFC, Near Field Communication, is an increasingly popular technology for asset tracking. It allows for wireless communication between two devices within close proximity. In today's world, NFC technology exists in most smartphones with many people using it daily for other purposes. Therefore, most are already familiar with this technology.
- Fast and easy to set up.
- Very accurate.
- Can be scanned with a smartphone.
- Inexpensive tags.
- Doesn’t require line of sight.
- Short reading range.
QR codes - Quick Response codes
QR technology is a powerful asset-tracking tool that is used to identify and manage items quickly and accurately. It’s a two-dimensional barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone or specialized QR reader. In recent years, this technology has become increasingly popular mainly because it’s very simple to configure.
- Simple to configure.
- Limited range.
- Can contain a limited amount of information.
- Difficult to customize and update.
- Tags are vulnerable to physical damage.
GPS - Global Positioning System
GPS is a revolutionary technology and powerful tool for asset tracking. It is a satellite-based navigation system providing users with accurate and reliable real-time location information. This technology relies on satellites instead of networks or radio waves, making it very reliable.
- Global visibility of tracked assets.
- Track movements in real time.
- Automated reporting.
- Doesn’t rely on network or radio waves.
- Limited to outdoor tracking.
- GPS requires a line of sight with at least four satellites.
- Can be easily interrupted by urban areas and difficult topography.
Barcodes are a unique type of machine-readable code consisting of a series of bars and stripes, which are used to store and access information about an asset. They have become an integral part of modern life, allowing businesses to track their inventory quickly and easily.
Almost every modern retail business uses this technology to scan items at the cash register, making it one of the most commonly used technologies in business.
- Easy to set up.
- Barcodes are very accurate.
- Can be scanned anywhere.
- Require line of sight for scanning.
- Can store small amounts of data.
- Tags are vulnerable to damage.
- Can’t count large number of barcodes at the same time.
Wi-Fi - Wireless Network
Wi-Fi is a technology that allows electronic devices to connect to a wireless local area network. Wi-Fi is used daily by practically everyone for an internet connection, yet has also become popular for asset tracking, as it provides a reliable wireless connection that can be used to monitor and manage assets in real time.
- Real-time tracking.
- Can connect to existing Wi-Fi network.
- Highly customizable.
- Requires additional power.
- Security risks.
- Assets may not be tracked if they’re located too far from the network’s reach.
- Depends on the stability of the Wi-Fi network.
Each of these asset-tracking technologies has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is crucial to consider your application's needs before choosing one. Of course, based on your requirements and aspirations, a combination of various technologies can also be utilized to address specific use-cases.
Are you searching to see which is the right technology approach for your business? Let our supply chain professionals assist you with your business needs, contact us today.