What's The Difference?

Wireless technologies such as  Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near-Field Communication (NFC) are becoming increasingly more popular for asset tracking and inventory tracking as companies in the oil & mining, trucking, logistics, warehousing, shipping and much more go through a digital transformation.  

RFID and NFC have many similarities — so it may be confusing which one of these technologies is the best choice for your specific application. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of their different strengths to help you make an informed decision on which one is best for your application.

What is Near Field Communication (NFC)?

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless technology that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the fleet industry. NFC enables short-range communication between two compatible devices—typically an NFC tag and a smartphone or tablet.

NFC tags are small chips that store data and are often incorporated into stickers, magnets, or labels. Most smartphones and tablets are able to read the data in NFC tags at a short-range (about four inches).

NFC requires action by the user- NFC has a very short range of action, as the general working range is within 0.1 meters. It is a user interactive technology, and it needs the user’s special participation to ensure the completion of functions such as payment or access.

What is RFID?

By definition, RFID is the method of uniquely identifying items using radio waves.

It is a wireless, contactless data transfer technology that uses tags or cards to store data, that do not need to be powered.

An RFID system comprises a tag, a reader, and an antenna. 

RFID works by placing a physical tag on an object, such as a truck. This tag uses radio waves to send data to a remote reader. The data could include location details, delivery time, and more.

RFID tags are either Active or Passive. Active RFID tags contain their own power source giving them the ability to broadcast with a read range of up to 100 meters.

Their long read range makes active RFID tags ideal for many industries where asset location and other improvements in logistics are important. 

What is the difference between NFC vs RFID?

In short: RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, a contactless one-way communication method at varying distances. NFC, Near Field Communication, allows for two-way communication and  requires action by the user. 

  • Range & Applications – NFC has a very short range of action, as the general working range is within 0.1 meters. It is a user interactive technology, and it needs the user’s special participation to ensure the completion of functions such as payment or access. NFC technology plays a huge role in access control, public transportation, mobile payment and other fields.
  • On the other hand, an RFID scanner can read a large number of tags at the same time, which is very common in warehouse inventory. RFID works at distances of hundreds of feet. 
  • Communication – RFID is typically only capable of one-way communication (from the tag to the reader), NFC is capable of two-way communication. 
  • Data Storage – NFC can store more complex data than simple identifying information. NFC tags can store up to 4KB of data. This data can take on numerous formats including text, URLs and media. While RFID tags usually require expensive readers to extract data, most modern-day smartphones are fitted with NFC reading capabilities. This greatly reduces the cost of implementing NFC tags, as users can simply use their smartphones to read data. Smartphones can read and write data onto a tag or card, obtain detailed metadata, launch an app or URL when the tag is scanned, and also share data between phones using NFC (peer-to-peer (P2P) communication).
RFID for Asset Tracking

Fleet managers who manage a variety of assets,  equipment and tools can increase productivity across operations by using RFID technology. Tracking equipment can be overwhelming if you don’t have a way to easily view equipment inventory.

RFID technology helps fleets maximize efficiency. Let’s go over a few key benefits of RFID technology:

  • Does Not Require Action & Can Read More Tags- RFID is used in production, logistics, retail, tracking and asset management because the RFID scanner can read a large number of tags at the same time and due to the range which can reach hundreds of feet. It also does not require action by the user, making it a better fit for asset and inventory tracking.
  • Requires No Additional Hardware

    RFID technology is easy to implement because it doesn’t require purchasing additional hardware. Fleet managers can purchase fairly inexpensive RFID tags to tag their assets and start receiving visibility on their whereabouts. With Wireless Links RFID asset tracking system, fleets can also leverage a mobile app to gain visibility anywhere.

  • Receive Real-Time Notifications – when an asset is removed from a vehicle at a job site, and when an asset is forgotten, fleet managers and drivers receive immediate notification on location and time of drop off or if a tool is forgotten once the vehicle starts moving. This key insight can improve the way you manage operations and ensure you have real-time visibility into every aspect of your fleet.

  • Visibility- If tags are placed on shipments, fleet managers can ensure their shipments get to where they need to be. It also makes sure that shipments arrive on time without any damage. No matter what assets tags are placed on, they provide a visual complete with location & time, providing insight into inventory and building accountability . 

Wireless Links

Wireless Links offers a cost effective solution for RFID asset tracking integrated with fleet management.

Fleets have many assets , equipment and tools in addition to their trucking fleets. Our solution is integrated with the Wireless Links fleet management platform, allowing fleets to leverage one cloud based platform for monitoring and tracking their assets. We offer active and passive RFID solutions in addition to mini IoT tags and a mobile app. 

It’s time to boost efficiency! Talk to us today to receive a demo. 

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