At what point will RFID replace bar coding? That is a question that people have asked for a long time. We ask this, due to RFIDs ease-of-use and the much speculation about it replacing AIDC technology soon due to RFIDs price becoming more competitive.
Why RFID? The biggest drawback for bar codes is that you have to read them one at a time. For example in a retail setting, with barcode, you scan every item in an incoming shipment and it would take you much longer to conclude what your inventory is than RFID. When dealing with small SKUs or small and complex barcodes, RFID is a better application to use. However, RFID costs much more per tag. The speed of the read is not as much of a factor as the skid or pallet level bar coding, which is a more reasonable and effective technology. Bar code scanning limitations are offset by their favorable tag cost.
Both RFID and AIDC technologies have enough application opportunity to coexist, and there are also a number of applications where they’re joint use compliments each other and improves the overall end result. For example, RFID with a barcode can be used in receiving inventory in a retail setting and bar codes can continue to be scanned at the checkout registers with POS scanners. With bar codes and RFID, you don’t have to choose one or the other, you can have both.