April 9, 2024 | 8 minute

RTLS vs. RFID: The Pros and Cons of Both for Asset Tracking and Management

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Asset tracking and management are essential functions for optimizing business operations in a fast-paced environment. Two of the most popular technologies that solve the challenge of accurate asset tracking are real-time tracking systems (RTLS) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). In this post, we will dive into each of these technologies to help you understand the main differences to make an informed decision regarding which technology is best for your business needs and goals.

Exploring the Basics of Real-Time Asset Tracking

Traditional methods of tracking assets involved manually checking items against lists. This was not only time-consuming for staff but led to frequent mistakes due to human error, poor record keeping, and misplaced supplies. Fortunately, emerging technology tackled the problems associated with these manual methods to create real-time asset tracking, a streamlined, digital solution.

Real-time asset tracking uses technology like UWB, NBIoT, BLE, or RFID to continuously monitor tagged assets, enabling real-time location data and status updates to increase productivity. This tech is frequently referred to as a Real-Time Locating System (RTLS). Asset tracking in real-time allows you to monitor inventory levels, locate equipment undergoing maintenance, and learn when assets were last serviced. RTLS provides you with an easy tool to more efficiently manage all types of assets.

RTLS works by placing tags onto assets or people. These tags transmit a signal that gets sent back to the software where users can view real-time location data along with more information about the asset.

Components Utilized for Real-Time Asset Tracking

RTLS utilizes several different technologies. The one you choose for your business depends upon your budget and intended use cases. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is one of the best RTLS technologies to use for real-time asset tracking, which is why uses it for its RTLS and IoT solutions. The low-cost BLE tags and devices offer an affordable solution and the long battery life allows for infrequent maintenance.

BLE offers exceptional flexibility and scalability. Countless IoT devices already support BLE, seamlessly integrating into existing infrastructures without necessitating any alterations. Leveraging AFH (adaptive frequency hopping), BLE effectively minimizes interference, enabling seamless coexistence with Wi-Fi.

Real-time asset tracking systems use a combination of hardware and software. The software translates data sent by the hardware devices into readable information. uses the following BLE hardware devices:

  • Asset Tags: Small, BLE-connected, and cloud-managed devices that affix to assets and communicate their location by broadcasting an ID number. Data from these tags gets stored in the cloud and users can access it through the platform’s software. Mini tags similar in size to a standard postage stamp are ideal for smaller assets.
  • Sticker Tags: These tags are flat, lightweight, and attach to many daily-use items with an adhesive backing. They have a year-long battery life and use non-toxic, biodegradable materials.
  • Beacons: Small devices that transmit a signal with a unique ID to give location data for their attached asset. Readers like smartphones and computers can access the data transmitted by beacons from the cloud.
  • Gateways: These devices remain fixed in place. Their purpose is to pick up the data from tags and beacons and send it to the software. Increasing the number of gateways improves location accuracy.’s RTLS-powered platform has many applications for all business sectors. It is flexible and future-proof, allowing you to scale up your operations, or increase your applications. It also provides greater transparency in business operations for better asset utilization and informed decision-making.

Understanding the Technology of RFID

Another technology used in asset tracking is radio frequency identification. RFID technology identifies and tracks tagged objects using radio waves. RFID is often used for inventory control in place of bar codes.

RFID systems utilize RFID tags and readers, along with data management software that interprets the data into readable language, charts, and reports. RFID tags are either active, which broadcasts a signal, or passive which responds to readers. While passive tags are less expensive because they don’t have a battery, they are ill-suited for asset tracking because of their short range. You must physically scan a passive RFID tag over a reader, while active tags can transmit data when in close range to a reader.

RFID technology is not compatible with a phone or other common devices. Active RFID is generally an expensive approach to asset tracking because you must purchase expensive readers. This cost can also limit the scale and scope of RFID applications. The technology of RFID is older than other options and therefore has limited functions.

Differentiating Factors in Real-Time Asset Tracking and RFID

Integration and Compatibility

If you’re looking for easy integration, BLE-based RTLS is the way to go. This technology is compatible with common devices like computers and smartphones. You don’t need to purchase specific readers or change your infrastructure as you do for RFID-based systems.

Implementation Timeframe and Cost

The cost of implementation depends on the system you plan to deploy. Real-time asset tracking systems require either Wi-Fi or a mobile data plan for continuous data connectivity. Since most businesses already have Wi-Fi, implementing BLE-based RTLS is fast and low-cost as you don’t need to make changes to your infrastructure.’s RTLS platform can cut deployment time from months to weeks or even days.

Your investment to get started with an RFID system could seem high if you don’t have an existing infrastructure compatible with the technology. If you choose RFID, you must consider the scale of your operation because expansion isn’t easy with an RFID system.


RTLS platforms using BLE devices are highly scalable, especially with’s plug-and-play solutions. All you need for this type of real-time asset tracking system is a Wi-Fi network, BLE devices, and user applications. You can add more gateways and devices to your facility at any time.

Scalability for RFID is often limited. The higher cost of tags and expensive readers makes it less appealing for businesses that don’t already have the basic infrastructure in place.

Technology for BLE-based asset tracking continues to evolve and improve, while technology for RFID remains mostly unchanged.

Common Use Cases for Each Technology

BLE-based RTLS:

  • Asset tracking and management
  • Staff safety and workflow
  • Visitor and patient flow
  • Precision proximity tracking
  • Supply chain management

This technology has the additional option to track item conditions like temperature to avoid item spoilage. Its location-sharing capabilities make it an excellent choice for employees who work in potentially dangerous environments, as they can send out a distress signal requesting help at the push of a button. It can also send out alerts when people wearing the tags move into a restricted area.

RFID-based System:

  • Supply chain management
  • Inventory control
  • Access control

RFID is great for tracking inventory, particularly when it involves bulk scanning in warehouses.

Benefits of Using Real-Time Asset Tracking vs. RFID

Real-Time Asset Tracking Pros and Cons

The advantages:

  • Cost-effective tags aside from passive RFID (which aren’t suited to asset tracking).
  • Many IoT devices come equipped with open BLE capability.
  • Easy deployment and scalability of BLE-powered RTLS solutions
  • Fast cost savings from optimizing asset inventory and tracking.

The potential drawbacks:

  • Some RTLSs can be difficult to install and hard to scale. makes it easy with its plug-and-play capabilities.
  • Some RTLSs have security concerns. is SOC-2 and HIPAA compliant and integrates with your wireless and security infrastructure.

RFID Pros and Cons

The advantages:

  • Great for inventory as it’s faster than barcode scanning.
  • Discreet tagging with tags coming in sizes as small as a grain of rice.
  • Save time with automated tracking.

The potential drawbacks:

  • Requires expensive special readers that cost $1,000-$5,000 each.
  • Older tech with fewer use cases.
  • Radio frequencies can be interrupted by poor placement of other frequencies.

While both technologies have useful applications for asset tracking, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each to make the decision on which is right for your business. Providing Solutions to Your Most Pressing Business Challenges

When it comes to real-time asset tracking, BLE-based RTLS solutions deliver fast time to value through easy implementation. This technology offers multiple use cases and is easy to use and scalable.

RFID-based systems also have their uses, but the active RFID necessary for real-time asset tracking is less precise than BLE-based RTLS and more expensive to set up. The ideal asset-tracking technology for your business ultimately depends on your needs, budget, current infrastructure, and your capacity for future growth.

Reach out to today to learn more about our platform and learn how our solutions can help transform your business for greater success.