Traditionally, GPS and RFID are regarded as two separate options for asset tracking technology. GPS is more applicable on a large scale but is more power-hungry. RFID is power-saving, but it is also more location-restricted. When these two technologies are combined, the solution presented is far more practical and sustainable than either on their own.
To fully understand, we must first examine the technologies separately.
Why Companies Need GPS and RFID in the First Place
Before discussing how GPS and RFID work separately and how they can be united to produce improved results, it’s good to establish why these technologies are important in the first place.
Both GPS and RFID provide forms of RTLS – real-time location systems. These systems provide location data for tracked objects, allowing companies to make better business decisions by informing them of use patterns and preventing loss of equipment. These systems allow operators enhanced visibility of important assets, empowering operators to improve operations with manufacturing and logistics industries alike.
It is important to establish these benefits because it creates a baseline of why GPS, RFID, or other forms of RTLS are necessary despite any potential downfalls. The true goal should be to find a way to improve or enhance these technologies in such a way that disadvantages are minimized, allowing companies to reap the benefits of the enhanced visibility they provide.
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GPS Trackers: Scalable, but Power-Hungry
Most people are familiar with GPS technology, to some degree. GPS distinguishes location through communication with earth’s satellites. It utilizes radio waves to detect location, applicable on either a large or small scale. This ability to translate on different scales makes it a popular choice for a tracking technology.
However, GPS trackers are incredibly battery-draining. Essentially, GPS requires other technologies to transmit location data in a readable format, often Wi-fi or cellular. This need to connect to another source makes for a power-hungry system, expending far more energy and causing far more battery waste than most other trackers. That being said, when it is used to track in-transit assets, many systems can be plugged directly into a vehicle to reduce power drain.
RFID Tags: Power-Saving, but Location-Restricted
Like GPS, RFID technology utilizes radio waves in order to locate and communicate with assets being tracked. It is a near-field technology that is equipped to communicate with multiple tags at once within a set area, which is dictated by a corresponding network of scanners. Unlike GPS, RFID technology functions in a way that preserves battery life in all contexts, as it can transmit data on its own and often have sleep functions that further assist in reducing energy drain.
However, while GPS can translate into large-scale outdoor settings, RFID tags are typically limited to a set location, as they require the presence of a scanner to be of use. This set location might be a building, job site, or the interior of a shipping trailer. Beyond these situations, an RFID tag’s ability to preserve battery and reduce energy consumption is rendered moot, as it does not easily translate into larger scales. That is not to say, however, that hope for a battery-saving, scalable solution is lost.
Combining GPS and RFID for Practical, Sustainable Results
A combination of GPS and RFID can create a robust system that is optimal for both on-site and off-site location tracking while reducing power drain. By using RFID on-site, GPS’s battery-draining tendencies can be minimized. Further, GPS has more power-saving capabilities when used in-transit, in a context where RFID is more difficult to employ.
As both technologies have their own benefits and drawbacks, implementing a coherent system that utilizes both can help you save both time and money by prioritizing a power-saving RFID solution for small-scale use with a farther reaching GPS solution for large-scale and in-transit use.
To find out if a combination of RFID and GPS could work for you, book a demo with Link Labs today.