Did you know that RFID and barcode identification are more complementary than competitive technologies? RFID is often touted as a replacement to barcoding, but the reality is that both technologies are often used together, and both will be around for years to come. They should not be viewed as competitive technologies, rather a conscious choice should be made whether to use one, the other or both.

Why They Are Better Together

When used together, as with a “smart label” that is printed and encoded using a thermal printer, the combined solution can provide several benefits. For example, a barcode can serve as a back-up for data on the RFID chip. What happens if the chip gets damaged? Just as the Human Readable UPC number on your bottle of shampoo can be used in place of a damaged barcode at the supermarket checkout counter, a barcode can be used if the RFID portion of a smart label is damaged.

Another benefit of using both technologies is to allow all the players in a supply chain, regardless of whether they have implemented RFID readers or not, to benefit from the data on the label. Imagine that you are a garment manufacturer in Asia. You need to ship your garments around the world, and some of the companies in the chain have sophisticated RFID solutions installed at their facilities. These companies can quickly “scan” the hundreds of pieces of clothing and get an accurate inventory of the shipment. But a small retail store may only have barcode readers. This shop can still read the labels if they are barcoded. By having both technologies on your label, the various players throughout the supply chain can all leverage the benefits of auto ID technologies, such as increased productivity, fewer errors, more accurate inventory and time savings.

Many Industries Choose to Print and Encode

The Automotive industry leverages the advantages of combined RFID and barcode systems. It has been a pioneer in creating and implementing standards for solutions in open-loop supply chains. Many other verticals and industries, including Pharmaceuticals, Chemical industry, Aviation, Healthcare, Retail and Food and Beverage, often follow and adopt the standards shaped by the Automotive industry.

As a long-standing partner of the Automotive industry, Printronix Auto ID develops and manufactures its printer product range in accordance to the demanding standards of this industry. Its RFID thermal printer range, comprised of the high-end desktop printer T800, as well as the mid-range and high-end industrial RFID printers, T4000 and T6000e, provides the perfect solution to print and encode both standard barcode labels and RFID tags at exceptional production speeds up to 14 inches per second.

The Importance of Choosing the Best Printer for the Job

The Printronix Auto ID RFID printer range is affordable yet impeccably engineered for multiple applications. The RFID option is – depending on the model  – available in both 4.1 inch and 6.55 inch versions to print and encode a huge variety of labels, starting from roll or fan-fold labels, tags, paper, film, tickets in versatile materials, such as standard paper labels, synthetic labels, and on-metal tags. Supported labels can have a pitch as short as 0.625 inch (15mm) and be as thick as .047 inch (1.2mm).

Interchangeable printheads allow not only 203 dpi and 300 dpi but also 600 dpi print resolution. This greatly expands applications for users, from straightforward shipping tags to intricate labels with detailed Asian characters required on items like PCB assemblies.

Working with Challenging RFID On-Metal Tags

On-metal RFID tags typically include a foam insulator and metal foil backing that makes them incompatible with most standard RFID printers and encoders. Not so with the Printronix Auto ID RFID industrial printers. They were engineered specifically to handle such media. Being able to encode and print on-metal tags makes the industrial RFID printer range ideal for cost-effective asset tagging of tools and equipment, such as IT servers, safety deposit boxes, or gas canisters as used in manufacturing, supply chain, IT, healthcare, and service yard industries.

Printronix Auto ID’s RFID printers are easy to calibrate and have the built-in capability to back-up and completely overstrike RFID labels that fail to encode properly. The encoded RFID labels can also be recorded to verify successful encoding and for later tracking.

All Printronix Auto ID RFID models are built on the Printronix System Architecture (PSA) platform. The printers come with nine printer emulations for easy plug-and-play in any competitor environment. This simplifies and accelerates printer installation, allows remote printer control thus minimising any impact on productivity. Additionally, the printers are SOTI Connect compatible.

Want to Learn More – Register to Download Our eBook

Is your customer interested in implementing RFID technology to complement an existing Auto ID solution? Download the Printronix Auto ID e-book to get some helpful guidelines to ensure your next RFID project is a success. If you have additional questions you can also contact our RFID Business Development Manager at RFID@PrintronixAutoID.com.

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