If so, should I avoid including any data other than a serial number?
The data stored on an RFID tag can affect the effectiveness of a deployment, yes. Generally speaking, it is best to use only a serial number on a tag if you can, and to store other data on the Internet. There are several reasons for this.
First, tags that contain only a serial number and no user memory are cheaper than tags with a lot of memory. Second, writing data to a tag can slow down your processes. Writing simple information, such as the ID number of a store to which a particular box should be sent, is not a problem—but if you were writing a lot of data to the tag, that would take time. This can slow down a conveyor line, for example. Managing information on the tag can also be a challenge. If there is information on the tag, how do you ensure it matches the data in your back-end systems?
That being said, there are times when you would want to write data to a tag. The airline industry, for example, is writing parts histories to airplane parts so that mechanics can quickly access the latest information when making repairs. Some retailers are writing information about which store an item should be shipped to, so that workers in the distribution center can quickly access that data without having to retrieve it from the Internet.
It’s important to think about the data you need on the tag for a particular application, and the best way to manage data on the tag is in a database. This will ensure that the application works as intended and does not slow down any business processes.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal