Finding the right solution for asset tracking might be daunting sometimes. There are so many technologies available in the industry to complete the purpose of asset tracking.

Most of the argument is done on the following techniques for asset tracking:

  • Barcode
  • QR Code
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
  • Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • Internet of Things (IoT)

But currently, the RFID and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technique are leading any other method because of its highlighting features. Here we are comparing both RFID & BLE for asset tracking along with their benefits.

Origin of RFID

The RFID device was first created in 1946 i.e., approx. 70 years back, by a Russian physicist Leon Theremin. RFID is a combination of radar and radio broadcast technology.

From the Medical Industry to Fashion Industry from tracking children to creating bill all these types of activities are done with RFID Technology. No wonder why RFID is successful in all the industries and taking the business world by storm.

Functionalities or specifications of RFID

  • Reading multiple tags at a time
  • RFID Tags can be integrated with sensors and GPS technology
  • It has 3 frequency range
  • Low frequency (LF) 125-134 kHz; range – up to 10 cm
  • High frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz; range – up to 30 cm
  • Ultra-high frequency (UHF) 856-960 MHz; range – up to 100 m
  • Time for connection is less than 1 milliseconds
  • RFID readers have increased read range so the tags can be read quickly in batches

Also Read: How Asset Tracking Software Helps Law Enforcement Agency?

Origin of BLE

On comparing with RFID technology, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is very new, just a few years grown. BLE technology with its 4.0 version was announced in 2009 and was rebranded as Bluetooth Smart 2016.

Being new it has understood the need and requirements of people in the industry and therefore, it is equipped with all the necessary functionalities.

Functionalities or specifications of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

  • Low Power Wireless Technology
  • Especially for Short-range Communication
  • Allows Devices to Communicate with each other
  • Perfect for Situations where Battery life is favored over high data transfer speed
  • Almost all smartphones and tablets are BLE compatible
  • Used for sensor data, control of devices, and low bandwidth applications

What is RFID?

RFID is a technology that enables digital data encoded in RFID tags (smart labels) is captured and read through radio waves.

In RFID the data from a tag is captured through a reader device and transferred to store in a database.

Following are three components of RFID:

  1. RFID reader

    The RFID reader is the brain of the RFID system and it is necessary for a system to perform any function. The RFID reader transmits and receives radio waves to communicate the information with RFID tags.

  2. Antenna

    An RFID antenna is used to convert RFID reader signal into RFID waves to send to RFID tags. They receive their power from RFID readers directly. Without some type of RFID antennas, the reader won’t be able to properly send and receive signals to RFID tags, either it is integrated or standing alone.

  3. Transponders (RFID Tags)

    These transponders are making RFID innovation user-friendly and accurate. In the simplest form RFID tag is used for transmitting and receiving signals and for storing tags ID with other information.

    RFID tags do not have any battery, instead, they receive energy from the radio waves generated by the RFID reader.

There are three types of RFID tags:

  • Active – The active RFID owns a power source and has a broadcast range of up to 100 m. it is ideal for the material location.

  • Passive – The passive RFID does not own any power source instead it is powered by a reader. It has a read range from near contact of up to 25 m.

  • Semi-Passive – The Semi-Passive RFID does not transmit active signals. They monitor things like climate and security breaches in the container. They are battery-powered. It has a read range of 860 MHz – 960 MHz i.e. 0.34 m – 0.31 m.

What is BLE?

According to Wikipedia, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Bluetooth Smart, is a wireless personal area network technology that is designed to provide reduced power consumption and cost as compared with the Classic Bluetooth, while maintaining a similar communication range.

BLE makes the gadgets smarter by promising them compact, affordable and least complexity.

BLE exchange a small amount of data at a regular interval of time. Through, BLE beacons (or tags) and its receivers (or smartphones) you can track and monitor your assets outdoor as well as indoor.

BLE also preserves energy and is able to run for a long time.

Also Read: RFID vs Barcodes: Which One is Better for Asset Tracking?

What is RFID Asset Tracking?

Using RFID built reader in a computer system, you can easily scan more than one asset without physically seeing them.

From RFID, the reader can get accurate scans even if it is kilometers away.

With this technology, it is very easy for a person to get dozens of scans in just a few seconds.

The RFID tag can store maintenance activities related to information and sensor data that can be read and written by a field technician.

Multiple advantages of RFID asset tracking system are:

  • RFID automatically collects data reducing human effort and error
  • It does not need line to line, to read data information
  • It increases efficiency as it can read multiple tags at the same time
  • RFID can read data from long distance
  • The password is encrypted & data is secured. Therefore, it provides great security
  • RFID tags are reusable because they are covered with plastic

What is BLE Asset Tracking?

BLE asset tracking is concerned to serve and provide a healthy solution to track and manage the assets of an organization.

Asset tracking with BLE involves Bluetooth Gateway and Bluetooth tags so that they can provide GPS location and detect nearby Bluetooth signals.

These BLE Beacons and tags are wired into the high-value assets. BLE asset tracking technology is an affordable solution regardless of the value of assets (high or low).

BLE Asset Tracking

Characteristics of BLE asset tracking are:

  • Cost-Effective
  • High Coverage Range
  • Versatile Tags
  • High Broadcast Capacity
  • Low Power Consumption
  • Fast Data Transfer

Also Read: RFID Technology Benefits & Drawbacks: Active, Semi-Passive & Passive

Comparison of RFID and BLE Technique for Asset Tracking Solution

RFID Technique for Asset Tracking

RFID asset tracking technology works on a tag basis, on an item a tag is attached, and radio waves track the tag.

RFID technique is composed of 3 parts – Reader, Antenna & Transponder (Tag).

The antenna conveys a radio-frequency signal furnishing a way for communication with the RFID tag.  When the RFID tag goes through the frequency field of the scanning antenna; it identifies the activation signal and can store the data to be picked up by the antenna.

Advantages:

  • Read Multiple Tags at a Time
  • Tags can be integrated with sensors and GPS technology
  • Improved Asset tracking security through real-time Alerts and Alarms
  • Time spend over Inventory Information can be Reduced
  • Important Service Information can be stored on the assets itself
  • RFID automatically collects data reducing human effort and error
  • Does not need line to line to read data information
  • RFID can read data from long distance
  • Password is encrypted & data is secured So, it provides great Security
  • RFID tags are reusable because they are covered with plastic

BLE Technique for Asset Tracking

BLE technique exchanges a small amount of data at a regular interval of time. With the help of BLE, beacons, tags, receivers or mobile devices, you can track & monitor assets outdoor as well as indoor.

BLE is less expensive than RFID. BLE preserves energy and it can run for a long time. BLE is not an updated version of Bluetooth, it is a new technology more focused on Internet of Things (IoT).

Advantages:

  • Easy to Implement
  • Zero Cost of Wiring & Installation
  • Scan through Smartphones
  • Cost-Effective
  • Quickly Read Assets
  • No Individual Scanning of Assets Required
  • Real-time Tracking
  • Tracking of both Users and Assets without additional hardware
  • Minimal Battery Drain
Comparison of RFID and BLE Technique for Asset Tracking

Also Read: How RFID transformed asset tracking in oil and gas industry?

Conclusion

RFID technique requires several hardware components like tags, readers, antenna, application software. Whereas, BLE does not require a lot of hardware components which makes easy for managers and team to get an easy check over the system.

Moreover, they have few differences in their frequency ranges and cost-effectiveness. Talking about the trend, BLE might not that popular but it delivers a great user experience for asset tracking.

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