When NOT To Use RFID: Choosing the Right Tools for Your Supply Chain

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that is consistently receives attention in supply chain news. It is no secret that RFID is a highly useful tool that many companies rely on. Businesses continue to implement it in a variety of ways into their systems on an ongoing basis. But despite the buzz, is it always the right choice? Here’s when RFID can hurt you more than it can help.


Price plays a big role in the decision making process, especially when considering RFID. It is one of the primary reasons some businesses veer away from this system. For starters, the scanner alone can cost up to $3000 USD depending on the model. As well, tags can cost anywhere between 10 cents per tag up to $20 USD per tag, also depending on type. On top of all of that, there are additional costs, such as antennas and cables. Overall, an entire RFID system with all the components and installation can cost well over of $5000 USD. As a result, RFID tends to get recommended to larger companies who can afford the expense and get more use out of its features. Therefore, from a financial stance, RFID may not be the best for smaller businesses. As an alternative, however, a barcode system might be more suitable.

Metal Sensitive

If the area you are considering to install your RFID system contains a lot of metal, you might want to re-evaluate. This is especially unfavorable in warehouses. The shiny surface of metal reflects light, therefore making tags undetectable by the radio frequencies used by RFID scanners. In order to get around this issue, you can either play around with the placement of your tags. Otherwise, you can opt for a lower frequency scanner to minimize the effect of this problem.

Tag Collision 

Tag collision happens when tags are placed too close together and as a result, the scanner gets overwhelmed with data. Since too much information is being picked up by the scanner, the reader fails to differentiate the incoming data. This happens easily when marked items are placed in confined spaces. However, certain algorithms have been developed over time to help solve this problem.

In conclusion, there aren’t many drawbacks to the use of RFID. There are plenty of benefits that this technology provides for a number of companies and has proved its value in the industry. But just because it’s all the rage, don’t jump right into the hype. Make sure to still carefully consider the drawbacks as well so that you can pick a system that is right for your supply chain.

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