An automotive manufacturing worker uses a Zebra RFD90 handheld RFID sled on a mobile computer to read a part label
By Matt Van Bogart | April 1, 2024

Industrial Automation Insider: Which is the Best Choice for Track and Trace, Quality Control, Loss Prevention and More: A Barcode, RFID or Vision System?

These veteran technology industry experts say you probably need all three. Hear why.

Editor's Note: This post and podcast episode originally published in August 2023. The post was updated April 2024.


What do you need to keep track of your assets, meet high quality standards, and provide customers with a stellar service experience, all day, every day, even when your team is tired? More barcode readers? RFID? Machine vision? Some other form of AI or deep learning tool? 

The answer isn’t that simple, but only because this is never going to be an either/or choice. These technologies are friends, not foes. You shouldn’t be pitting them against each other when trying to prep your team to knock it out of the park during peak season – or peak hours. You should be figuring out how to pair them up so they can cover more ground. 

But budgets are tight. I have to prioritize my spend,” you might object. To which I would say, “There are a lot of creative new ways that engineers are piecing together barcode RFID and vision technologies to work as one system – one solution. So, you don’t necessarily need separate line items for each system. You just need budget for the one total solution.”

Curious to learn how this might work? Or where it makes the most sense to have barcode, RFID and vision technologies working together in your manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, retail, hospitality, healthcare, utility or even government operation? 

Then tune into the latest episode of the Industrial Automation Insider now…

Industrial Automation Insider: Why RFID, Barcode and Vision System are Often Better Together

I sit down with Jim Witherspoon (a visionary in the vision space), Charles LaForge (who has the scoop on some cool new barcode tech), and Bob Grant (an RFID guru who got his start in barcode systems) to learn more about…

  • Why you shouldn’t expect the barcode to be replaced by some other technology in our lifetimes – and why it’s actually gaining value despite RFID and vision technologies becoming more prolific.

  • What your organization stands to gain from a data matrix, QR code or other type of 2D barcodes, and who will likely benefit most from these advanced barcode types.

  • What RFID is really good at (as compared to the barcode, for example) and areas in which RFID may never excel.

  • Some of the newer, more creative uses of RFID that we’re seeing in the market that may be relevant to your business, too. (RFID-tagged lettuce?!)

  • Why we’re seeing barcodes and RFID tags coexist – not just within the same organization, but also on the same package for different reasons. (Are they doing the same thing?!)

  • How machine vision and other vision technologies can be used to error-proof everything from self-checkout to order picking and production validations, and why you probably need both RFID and machine vision technologies to create an error-proofing system for package tracking and tote recovery efforts. 

  • Why you should take a few minutes today to learn more about deep learning, especially deep learning OCR. (This video is a great starting point.) As Jim notes, deep learning OCR is the closest thing to black magic you can get if you’re looking for a fast way to get an accurate, automated read on labels, products, packages and more. And it’s the best out-of-the-box solution I’ve seen for on-box text validations in a long time. (Thanks AI.) You shoud check out these two posts when you have a few minutes:  

A Deeper Dive on Deep Learning OCR


Deep Learning Isn’t a “Bleeding Edge” Technology, but It Can Help Stop the Bleed at the Edge of Your Business. Here’s How.

  • How machine vision is being used to ensure labels are accurate, and put in the right place, or ensure RFID tags are where they’re supposed to be on totes, pallets, products and more.

  • Where these different technologies live today, or where should they live in the last mile to ensure everyone’s expectations are met – business leaders, associates and customers. (Think retail stores, restaurants, and even hospitals and home delivery services.)

  • How exactly AI, deep learning and even firmware are being used to enhance or complement these technologies to achieve near-perfect operational performance and service delivery. (Remember, barcode, RFID and vision systems only capture data points. You still need to analyze, contextualize, and action them.)


Best Practices, Energy and Utilities, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Warehouse and Distribution, Automation, Transportation and Logistics, Podcast, Field Operations, Hospitality, Public Sector, Asset Tracking, Machine Vision, New Ways of Working, RFID, Scanning Solutions, AI,
Matt Van Bogart
Matt Van Bogart

Matt Van Bogart is a 20+ year veteran of the industrial imaging and machine vision market. He is currently responsible for machine vision-focused strategic business development at Zebra and previously drove the global channel strategy for industrial automation at the company.

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