Comparison of Bar Code and RFID Systems in Managing Garment Production Shop Floor

Question: Can you compare Bar code and RFID systems that used in shop floor management in apparel industry? What are their advantages and disadvantages if using in shop floor management? 

To manage production floor better way targeting better output, shop floor production information is very essential. For the purpose of line balancing, knowing hourly production and even individual operators performance at the end of the day the common method is capturing operator wise production quantity manually. To replace manual data tracking process with IT based technology, Bar code and RFID systems are available. Both system have their own advantages and disadvantages. In the following I have compared both systems in different parameters.

Process flow: Main differences in data capturing to report generation are.
           Bar code: Print Bar codes --> Bundling with Bar codes --> Stick Bar codes on gum sheet by operators --> Scan Bar codes by scanner --> Report generated

           RFID system: Writing on tags --> Bundling with tags --> Bundle tag scanning by operators --> Report generated

Scanning Speed: Multiple RFID tags can be scanned at a time and RFID reader scan tags from any direction within a limited distance. Only one bar code sticker can be scanned at a time and Bar code scanner scan a Bar code from front only. So RFID system is faster in data capturing.

Installation and running Cost: For Bar code initial cost is less compared to RFID but running cost will be high in case of Bar code system. RFID can be reused many times where Bar codes consumed once can’t be re-used.

MIS and Reporting: In RFID you will get real time information. Real time information can be displayed on terminals (operator console) in front of operators which is the most important part of shop floor controlling. Where in case of Bar code you will get updated information once someone scan bar codes. Normally after each two hours production data is scanned in bar code system.

Reporting formats depend on Bar code / RFID suppliers how they designed their package. Similar report can be produced from both Systems. In RFID system you will get update within a fraction of seconds.

Manpower requirement:  In Bar code system factory need to employ a scanning person. On the other hand sewing operators scan tags on their own at the time they start bundle.

Carbon Footprint: This point is also important because at present apparel industry is concerned on reducing carbon footprint. In bar code system you will consume lot of gum sheet and sticker which increases your factory carbon footprint. In RFID based system no use of any paper. Data is sent to the main server via wires.

Related Articles:

RFID Technology for the Garment Factory Management – An Overview

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