Updated: Aug 22
NFC VS RFID: Which is better for your business?
NFC and RFID have many things in common and the average person may not understand the difference. The average person may not know that these two technologies are on the rise in how modern companies deal with asset tracking and documentation all in the name of becoming increasingly effecient in their day to day work. But why is that?
What is NFC?
NFC, or Near Field Communication, is small bits of data shared between devices. It has, like the name suggests, a very short distance in which it can read other NFC cards. You may know it from your standard smartphone, where it is often used to pay in stores simply by holding it up to the payment terminal. However it can be used for a wide range of tasks, such as quickly connecting to a wi-fi, launching a web site or app, share media files, and much more.
What is RFID?
RFID, or Radia Frequency Identification, uses tags or cards to store data. These tags do not need to be powered. RFID consists of three components: a scanning antenna, a transceiver and a transponder.
RFID tags have a unique identifier/serial number that each can contain unique data.
Passive RFID tags operate at three different ranges: low frequency, high frequency, and ultra-high frequency, with the highest reaching up to 960 MHz. They can be scanned from distances of more than a meter. NFC tags has to be within a few centimeters to be scanned.
NFC tags can store larger amounts of data and can also transmit data, such as payment details. RFID, however, is able to track multiple components and is much better suited for environments with many trackable assets. RFID tags are also able to store data directly linked to the asset they are tracking, which makes them able to show batch number and date of manufacturing.
When it comes to RFID technology, there are two types: passive and active. Passive tags are small and have no internal power source, drawing power from the RFID reader. Active RFID tags, on the other hand, have their own power source, which also means they have a shorter operational life compared to passive tags. NFC tags are always considered passive.
NFC tags are typically used with handheld devices to scan payment terminals or codes that link to websites due to their very limited range.
RFID tags, on the other hand, are generally employed for scanning components that are not in close proximity, such as underground cables. They are also widely used in warehouses as a powerful tool for asset tracking and inventory management.
What businesses are taking advantage of RFID technology?
RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology has become an invaluable tool for businesses across various industries due to its ability to streamline operations, enhance security, and improve overall efficiency.
1. IT and Telecommunications Industry
Asset Tracking: IT companies use RFID to track and manage their equipment and assets, such as underground cables, servers, routers, and networking devices. This reduce amount of wasted time and improves inventory management, reduces losses, and streamlines maintenance.
Network Cable Management and more: IT companies leverage RFID for real-time tracking of underground cables and their exact locations, electrical panels that may not be easily located, outlets, etc.
2. Utilities (water supply, heat supply, renewable energy such as wind and solar fields, and electricity supply)
Asset Management: RFID technology helps utilities track and manage assets such as pipes, valves, turbines, solar panels, and transformers, optimizing maintenance schedules and reducing downtime.
Meter Reading: RFID-enabled meters are used for automated and accurate meter reading in water, heat, and electricity supply. This minimizes manual reading errors and improves billing accuracy.
Construction of Solar Panels: RFID tags are integrated into individual solar panels during the manufacturing process. This allows for precise tracking of each panel's production date, specifications, and quality control information. During installation, RFID technology helps ensure that panels are placed correctly and can be tracked throughout their lifecycle.
Energy Efficiency: In wind energy and solar fields, RFID sensors and tags enable real-time monitoring of equipment performance and energy production. This helps maximize efficiency and reduces maintenance costs.
Safety and Compliance: RFID tags can be used to ensure compliance with safety standards by monitoring and recording maintenance and inspection activities on critical infrastructure components.
3. Road and railway Infrastructure
Road Infrastructure Management: RFID is employed to monitor and maintain road assets, including signs, barriers, and pavement materials. RFID tags on these assets allow for automated inspections, reducing the need for manual checks. This not only enhances safety by ensuring that road elements are in good condition but also minimizes road maintenance costs by identifying and locating issues early.
Rail Infrastructure Maintenance: In the rail sector, RFID technology is used to track and manage various components, such as tracks, switches, and signaling equipment. By embedding RFID tags in rail assets, maintenance teams can quickly identify worn or damaged parts, leading to more efficient maintenance scheduling and reduced downtime. This proactive approach enhances rail safety and service reliability.
Buoy Tracking: Many modern harbors use RFID technology to track their buoys and when they need to be maintenanced. These also can be difficult to locate unless you have very precise coordinates that an RFID tag can provide.
Container Tracking: Harbors and ports use RFID to track and manage shipping containers. This improves the efficiency of cargo handling and reduces the risk of lost or misplaced containers.
Security: RFID access control systems enhance security at harbor facilities by ensuring that only authorized personnel can enter restricted areas.
Facility Maintenance: RFID tags are utilized to monitor and manage various airport facilities, including runways, taxiways, terminals, and hangars. By attaching RFID tags to critical infrastructure components, maintenance teams can automate inspections and track asset conditions in real time. This proactive approach helps identify maintenance needs promptly, reducing downtime and ensuring that runways and facilities are in optimal condition.
Ground Support Equipment (GSE): Airports rely on a vast array of ground support equipment, such as baggage carts, fuel trucks, and maintenance vehicles. RFID technology allows for the tracking and maintenance scheduling of this equipment. RFID-tagged GSE can be easily located, inspected, and repaired when necessary, minimizing equipment downtime and enhancing operational efficiency.
Baggage Handling: RFID baggage tags enable efficient and accurate tracking of passengers' luggage, reducing the likelihood of lost bags and improving the overall passenger experience.
Security: RFID is used in airport security for access control, baggage screening, and tracking airport personnel and vehicles.
Inventory Management: Airports use RFID for inventory management of equipment, such as maintenance tools and vehicles, ensuring that everything is in the right place and well-maintained.
In all these sectors, RFID technology is helping businesses optimize their operations, reduce costs, reduce wasted time, enhance security, and provide a more transparent view across their organizations. As technology continues to advance, RFID's role in various industries will likely expand, offering even more benefits to businesses and consumers alike.
What businesses are taking advantage of NFC technology?
NFC (Near-Field Communication) technology is also widely used by businesses, but in different ways as the tags cannot be read from more than a few centimeters away.
Contactless Payments: You have probably noticed that many retail stores now support NFC-enabled contactless payments. Customers can simply tap their NFC-enabled cards or mobile devices at the point of sale (POS) terminal, making transactions faster, more convenient, and secure.
Smart Shelves: Some shops employ NFC technology to enhance the shopping experience. NFC tags on products or shelves can provide customers with detailed product information, pricing, and even recommendations when tapped with a smartphone.
Contactless Access: NFC is used in wearables like smartwatches and wristbands to provide contactless access to secured areas. This is commonly seen in hotels and gyms, where guests or members can use their wearables to enter rooms or fitness facilities.
Health Monitoring: Some wearables for health and fitness tracking utilize NFC for quick and secure data transfer to smartphones or other devices. This allows users to monitor and analyze their health data more effectively
3. Construction and maintenance
Asset Tracking: NFC tags are affixed to various construction assets, including equipment, machinery, tools, and materials. Each tag contains a unique identifier that can be scanned with an NFC-enabled device like a smartphone or tablet. This allows construction companies to keep a digital record of asset locations, movements, and usage.
Inventory Management: NFC tags enable real-time tracking of inventory at construction sites. Workers can quickly scan tags to check materials in and out, reducing manual paperwork and minimizing errors in inventory management.
Maintenance and Inspections: NFC tags are often used to record maintenance and inspection data for equipment and machinery. Maintenance personnel can easily access historical maintenance records and schedule preventive
maintenance based on equipment usage and condition data stored in the tags.
Safety Compliance: NFC tags can store information related to safety compliance, including inspection dates, certifications, and safety guidelines. Inspectors and workers can verify safety compliance with a simple NFC scan, ensuring that safety
standards are met.
While RFID and NFC have many similarities, they also have many individual strenghts and weaknesses.
RFID tags are far superior when it comes to scanning or locating assets that are not accessible right in front of you as they communicate on a much larger frequency. They are also superior when it comes to reading multiple assets at once, for example in a warehouse where many assets are moving fast.
The strenght of NFC is its level of security due to its short range and that it is often coupled directly to your personal smartphone. So anything where a phone can reach it works well, which is why it is used to great effect with payment, reservations, etc.
Use RFID and NFC technology to save time and keep track of everything your operation does
IntelliFinder offers both RFID and NFC technology to track your assets. It can be used by a wide variety of companies to locate assets and save valuable time. Right now many companies are modernizing with this technology to greatly improve how fast and effeciently they complete routine tasks.
Reach out today to hear more with a demo completely free of charge.