Clients tend to focus on the price of a specific RFID tag, in order to choose the least expensive one. While such an approach might appear to reduce the project's cost, that is often not the case.
The wiser approach would take into account the vision of the entire project's cost. Since each project has its unique needs, one kind of hardware can be cost effective to a specific project, but expensive to another.
Projects tend to have six key elements:
- RFID tags
- RFID readers and Room locators or Zone-IDs
- Additional infrastructure required
- Implementation time
- Ongoing maintenance
Each element has its relative price in every project. The relative prices of these elements vary significantly from one technology to another. Therefore, to optimize a project's total cost, the anticipated costs of each project and every technology considered must be consider vis-à-vis each one of these six elements.
Some projects involve simple tracking of thousands of items, identified only if they are in a specific location. Such an endeavor would require a large amount of tags but a small amount of readers. In such a project the price of the tag is more important than the price of the reader.
On the other hand, in a project with a small amount of items that have to be located in real time at a room-level accuracy with a large number of rooms, the readers and Room locators will be more important than the price of the tags.
Certain technologies require electricity and a network point while other are wireless and even sometime battery operated. Depending on the project, the impact of the additional infrastructure required can represent a very significant amount of money that can be a major factor in preferring one hardware solution over another.
The implementation costs, as well as the ongoing maintenance cost, can vary significantly between various technologies. These pragmatic aspects should not be overlooked either.
Last but not least, the majority of track and trace projects include items of very high value, as well as items of low value, that nevertheless have to be protected. The quantity of such low value items can be very large. While high value assets must be protected in real-time with Active RFID technologies, low value items can be protected with inexpensive passive RFID tags, and monitored in Pseudo Real-time using Intelligent Handheld passive RFID readers. Selecting a Software solution that can support mixing and matching different technologies will have a major impact on the total project cost as well.
Optimizing the cost of a project requires a wide perspective, far beyond the mere cost of the tags or any other individual item. Estimating the cost of the six aforementioned aspects is mandatory in the process of selecting the best suited hardware and software for each project.