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Difference between RTLS and RFID Tracking

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Dec 14, 2023
  • RFID
Difference between RTLS and RFID Tracking

Two names commonly appear in the ever-changing environment of tracking technologies: RTLS (Real-Time Location System) and RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification). While both are useful for asset and personnel tracking, they work on different principles and provide various needs and applications.

Let's explore the complexities of RTLS and RFID, investigating their technology and identifying major differences.

RFID Tracking

RFID uses radio-frequency signals for identification and tracking. RFID tags and RFID readers are the two major components. RFID Tags are frequently small and passive and store data or additional information in ICs that an RFID reader can read. The reader sends out radio waves, which power the tags and extract information from them. RFID technology is commonly utilized in inventory management, access control, and logistics.


Inventory Management: RFID is widely used in retail and warehouses where quick and accurate product tracking is essential.

Access Control: RFID cards and tags are common in secure areas, providing for convenient and secure entry.

Supply Chain Visibility: Tracking items in transit helps to optimize operations and improve overall supply chain visibility.

RTLS (Real Time Location System)

Real-time location and movement tracking (RTLS) takes tracking to a whole new level by delivering real-time information about the location and movement of objects or individuals. It determines the specific location using a combination of technologies such as GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or UWB (Ultra-Wideband). Active tags with batteries provide signals to receivers or access points, allowing for accurate real-time tracking.


Healthcare: In hospitals, RTLS is essential for tracking medical equipment and guaranteeing efficient patient care.

Manufacturing: Real-time tracking improves visibility in manufacturing operations and optimizes workflow.

Asset Tracking: RTLS is perfect for tracking high-value assets in vast buildings or open areas.

Key Differences of RFID Tracking and RTLS

Real-Time Location System (RTLS) and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking are both asset monitoring and management technologies, although they differ significantly in terms of precision, technology, applications, and use cases.

The following are the significant distinctions:

1. Technology


1. RFID technology makes use of radio-frequency signals.

2. Active RFID tags (with their own power source for longer-range and continuous communication) and passive RFID tags (powered by the reader's signal) are included.


1. To determine precise location, multiple technologies such as GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or UWB (Ultra-Wideband) are used.

2. Active tags with their own power source are frequently used for ongoing communication.

2. Precision

1. RFID provides accurate item identification.

2. In terms of exact real-time location tracking, it is limited.

3. RTLS provides Real-time location tracking with great precision.

4. Ideal for applications that require precise and accurate location data.

3. Applications of RTLS and RFID based Location Tracking

1. RFID is ideal for situations requiring identification and data retrieval.

2. Inventory management, access control, and supply chain visibility are all common applications.

3. RTLS is designed for applications that require real-time visibility and precise location monitoring.

4. Used in healthcare to track medical equipment, in manufacturing to optimize throughput, and in huge organizations to track assets.

4. Power Requirement “Active Vs. Passive”

1. RFID tags that are passive rely on the energy generated by the reader.

2. In comparison to active RFID tags, passive RFID tags have a limited range and capability.

3. RTLS technology frequently employs active tags with its own power supply.

4. Allows for continuous communication and real-time tracking.

5. Use Cases

1. RFID is useful in situations where the primary purpose is to identify and manage goods or to grant access.

2. Ideal for tracking static or slow-moving objects.

3. RTLS is Ideal for dynamic environments requiring real-time visibility and precise tracking.

4. Tracking high-value goods or individuals in mobility is a common application.

6. Range

1. RFID has a limited range, usually a few metres.

2. Well-suited for close-proximity identification.

3. Depending on the technology utilized (e.g., Wi-Fi or UWB), RTLS can provide a longer range.

4. Suitable for tracking assets over vast areas.

Benefits of RFID Tracking and RTLS

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) and RTLS (Real-Time Location System) both provide a variety of advantages, each designed for certain applications and needs.

The following are the primary benefits of each technology:

Benefits of RFID

Asset Tracking Efficiency

RFID provides effective asset, product, and inventory tracking throughout the supply chain, minimising manual handling and errors.

Increased Visibility

RFID enables real-time visibility into the movement and placement of things, improving overall supply chain visibility and lowering the likelihood of lost or misplaced goods.

Improved Data Accuracy

RFID technology decreases data entry errors associated with manual operations, ensuring that product or asset information is correct and up to date.

Savings on costs

RFID's automation and efficiency benefits might result in long-term cost savings as organisations reduce labor expenses and increase overall operational efficiency.

Benefits of RTLS

Location Information in Real Time

RTLS offers organizations real-time and exact location information for assets, workers, or other monitored items, allowing them to monitor movements as they occur.

Improved Safety and Security

RTLS contributes to improved safety and security by allowing organizations to track the position of workers, assets, or equipment in real-time, particularly in critical areas such as hospitals.

Enhanced Workflow

Organizations can optimize workflows, track job progress, and detect barriers with accurate real-time location data, resulting in greater operational efficiency. 

Reporting and compliance

RTLS delivers data that can be utilized for compliance reporting and auditing, ensuring that organizations in diverse industries meet legal standards.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Dec 14, 2023

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