ESSAY: Barcode Scanning vs RFID

A barcode consists of a series of vertical bars of varying widths that represent letters, numbers and other symbols. Barcodes are used to identify products, locations in the warehouse, containers (totes, cartons, pallets), serial and batch numbers. current debate is whether the pharmaceutical industry should be investing in 2D technology or radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Both are able to hold more information than a standard linear barcode; however, certain types of RFID tags are re-writable which can be a significant advantage given the current cost of the tags. In 275-300 words, provide some thoughts of advantages and cost of barcode and RFID technologies.


Barcodes are visual representations of data containing specific code that tracks products. Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) consists of tags affixed to products that recognize and identify products through radio waves (Smith-Ditizio, & Smith, 2018). RFIDs and barcodes have their advantages, but it depends on how businesses want to utilize them. Before using either of them, companies need to understand their requirements concerning durability, security, and implementation. As such, it is essential to compare the two in terms of their pros and cons.

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RFIDs can read tags from afar than barcodes and do not require line of sight positioning. They have a faster reading rate and can scan to distances of up to 300 feet (Layton, 2015). Moreover, RFIDs can read and write as well as higher security features such as passwords and encryption. The RFID tags provide large memory capacities to include data such as expiry dates and shipping information. Moreover, they require less human interaction and are reusable. Barcodes, on the other hand, are lighter, smaller, less expensive, and more accurate than RFIDs.

The cons of barcodes include the line of sight requirement, proximity, lack of reading and writing capabilities, more labor-intensive, less security, and prone to damage. In comparison, RFIDs are more expensive, prone to interferences such as walls, and overlapping of two or more signals. Moreover, the RFIDs have two chips that only one machine can read at any single time. Given the pros and cons of each, RFIDs not only provides a seamless and automated scanning but also significantly reduces human error due to their ability to detect and identify the proper information using its unique identification (Cerny, 2018).


Cerny, L. J. (2018, September 1). RFID Advantages Over Barcodes in the Distribution Center

Layton, A. (2015). Barcode vs. RFID: Which is better?

Smith-Ditizio, A. A., & Smith, A. D. (2018). Barcodes vs. RFID and Its Continued Success in Manufacturing and Services. In Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition (pp. 5273-5284). IGI Global.

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