RFID Vs Bluetooth Asset Trackers

RFID Asset Tracker

By Dan Barraclough | Published: June 14 2019

What are the differences between RFID and Bluetooth asset trackers, and which one should you invest in?

RFID and Bluetooth BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) asset trackers are both examples of Internet of Things technology. This means they form part of a network that consists of sensors, computers, and other pieces of technology, which communicate and send data through the internet.

These days, both methods of asset tracking are robust, and use minimal power to send and receive location signals. They’re suitable for both small scale and mid size tool tracking, and are used by companies from a huge range of industries – from healthcare to construction.

While RFID and Bluetooth asset trackers work on a send and receive basis, there are some differences between the two asset tracking systems that may influence you when choosing the best one for your business.

You can find out all you need to know about RFID vs Bluetooth asset trackers in the sections below. Alternatively, use the menu to navigate to the information you require.

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RFID Vs Bluetooth Asset Tracking

The table below explains the main differences between Bluetooth BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and RFID asset tracking.

What’s important to note is that RFID tracking is available as passive technology or active technology. This makes a difference to aspects such as the cost and lifetime of the equipment. You can find out more about the differences between active RFID tracking and passive RFID tracking in our main RFID tracking article.

Passive RFID TrackingActive RFID TrackingBluetooth Tracking
Lifetime20 years3-5 years2-5 years
Cost of reader$3,000-$20,000$500-$1,850$25
Range of reader1-2ft300ft20ft
Type of toolSmall/mediumMedium/largeMedium/large

RFID Vs Bluetooth Asset Tracking – Key Findings

Bluetooth – Best cheap asset tracking system

If you’re looking for a cheap asset tracking system, Bluetooth is the way to go. It’s soft on the wallet, offers up a good range, and because it’s Bluetooth, it’ll automatically hook up with a range of everyday devices. This means you can easily transfer usage data to your laptop, tablet or mobile phone, and use that data to keep on top of proactive maintenance and job allocation.

Active RFID tracking – Best for large assets

Active RFID asset tracking works in a similar way to Bluetooth asset tracking – both methods send information out to a reader using battery powered tags. Active RFID tracking offers up the largest range, making it a great choice for tracking large pieces of machinery on a building site.

You may also want to think about GPS asset tracking for your larger pieces of machinery. A GPS tracker can feed off the power source of the machinery you attach it to, meaning its lifetime is far longer.

Passive RFID tracking – Best for medium to large businesses

An RFID reader may be expensive, but don’t forget that you won’t be paying to replace expensive tags over the years. With a one-off payment and some passive RFID tag stickers, you’ve got yourself an asset tracking system. Simply stick these stickers onto boxes of inventory, and have instant access to inventory info.

What is RFID Asset Tracking?

RFID asset tracking

RFID stands for radio frequency identification, but the way in which RFID asset tracking works will differ according to whether it’s active or passive.

Active asset tracking essentially means the tags that you attach to your tools emit a radio frequency, which is picked up by the RFID reader. The tags require a small battery, which has a lifetime of around three to five years. This means you’ll need to replace your tags once the power runs out.

Passive asset tracking essentially means the tags on your tools don’t emit any kind of radio frequency. Instead, the reader emits a radio signal which bounces off the tags, feeding the location of the tag back to the reader.

What is Bluetooth (BLE) Asset Tracking?

Bluetooth asset tracking tag

Bluetooth asset tracking has come a long way in recent years. Thanks to the development of Bluetooth Low Energy technology, Bluetooth systems are costing less and lasting longer.

A Bluetooth Low Energy asset tracking system works in a similar way to active RFID tracking – the tags emit a signal to communicate with the reader. This means the tags are always sending location data back.

Which Asset Tracking System Should You Choose?

In this case, there’s no right or wrong answer. Both RFID and Bluetooth asset tracking have their advantages and disadvantages, and both RFID and Bluetooth asset tracking solutions are suitable for small, medium, and large assets.

What it should come down to is what kind of system your company can afford, and whether you want the hassle of replacing your tags once the batteries have run out of power. You can easily find out how much an asset tracking system will cost your company – all you need to do is fill in our online form, and the best suppliers for your requirements will be in touch.

Dan Barraclough

Dan’s a Senior Writer at Expert Market, specialising in digital marketing, web design, and photocopiers, amongst other topics.

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