Can you please describe some examples of both?
RFID is a tool. The advantages and disadvantages depend to a large extent on how the tool is applied. If you apply a tool to the wrong task, it won’t work well.
That being said, RFID can be used in many different tasks and has advantages and perhaps some disadvantages for each. For example, short-range Near Field Communication (a form of HF RFID) works very well for executing payment transactions. It’s more secure than magstripes, faster and more convenient for the customer (just tap your phone or card and go). The disadvantage is that it is slightly more expensive than a magnetic strip.
Passive UHF can be used for automating tasks on an assembly line. It allows a robot to identify the unique subassembly it is working on and pick the unique part that needs to be applied. This is a huge advantage over bar codes, which must be in a specific orientation to be read. The disadvantage is that it is slightly more expensive than bar codes, and RFID systems can sometimes be interfered with by other RF systems within a facility.
Passive UHF is being widely used for taking inventory counts in retail stores. The advantages are that it allows personnel to count inventory in a tiny fraction of the time it takes with bar codes. It enables store associates to quickly find items that are out of place. It enables “ship from store” and “buy online, pickup in store” and it has other advantages as well. The disadvantages are that tags must be placed in hangtags at the source of manufacturing, or else labor must be expended to tag items. Another issue is that all tags sometimes cannot be read when they are densely packed or tags are lined up one behind another, because energy from the reader antenna does not reach every tag.
These applications each have different advantages and disadvantages. Bar codes, QR codes, Bluetooth beacons and other data-capture systems likewise have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the application. I hope to see you at RFID Journal LIVE! 2020, where you can learn more about this.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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