From consumer products and food packaging to pipe fittings and hazardous material containers, just about everything has some sort of label affixed to it that contains important information that buyers, sellers or manufacturers need to be aware of. Most of us are familiar with barcodes and QR codes, but the technology that goes into them may come as a surprise.
It’s essential to understand the differences between barcode labels (affixed to a surface) and tags (attached to an asset) and the devices that “read” them because how they will be used—the what, why, when and where—make a big difference. Both barcode and RFID readers are used in integrated intelligent manufacturing solutions. Barcodes often serve to identify the location of production orders, input inventory quantities of raw materials, and help signal the completion of finished goods. RFID can perform similar functions, but eliminates the human element, improving accuracy and automating the scan.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that we are talking about asset tracking, not inventory tracking. They are not the same thing. Asset tracking is the ability to locate an asset (where it is or where it most recently was) and use that information to perform a function or provide a notification. Inventory tracking is the monitoring of the volume of many of the same items, like the number of XL white T-shirts in stock.