Each system has some limitations, so how can you decide which type of system is right for your business? Barcode labels must be kept clean and in good condition to be readable by the scanner. However, printing a new label will cost only a few pennies, and labels can be placed on any type of item. Additionally, each barcoded item checked in or out must be scanned individually.
RFID tags must be purchased with the specific item in mind. Metal deactivates the antenna and interferes with the transmission of data from the tag. Special RFID tags can block this interference but can be quite expensive. RFID tags can cost as little as one dollar or be as pricey as $30 depending on the specifics of the tag. The hardware to run an RFID system is also more expensive than typical barcode scanners.
If you only want to know which items are in your tool crib, a barcode scanner system might be right for your needs. However, if you need to know at which jobsite the compound miter saw is in use, an RFID system will provide that information and more. Many inventory management systems will allow you to use a combination of barcodes and RFID tags. The more specialized pieces of equipment from your inventory could have RFID tags to assist you and your crew in maintenance and usage tracking, while the remainder of your tools are simply checked in or out.