GPS vs. RFID for Railroad Tracking: Which is Best? - Geoforce

GPS vs. RFID for Railroad Tracking: Which is Best?

Explore the differences between GPS tracking and RFID while learning about the benefits of each to identify the best choice for your tracking needs.

When it comes to railroad tracking, there are two main options: GPS Tracking and RFID. Both have their advantages, but which one is the best for your needs? In this blog post, we will explore the differences between GPS Tracking and RFID and explain the benefits of each in order to help you determine which is the best choice for your railroad tracking needs. 

Overview of GPS Tracking and RFID

Railroad GPS tracking is a crucial component of efficient and safe railway operations. It helps in the optimization of railroad logistics and is essential for ensuring railroad safety. Asset tracking enables near real-time data regarding railcars, freight, and personnel to be collected and shared with decision makers. To meet these needs, GPS tracking and RFID technologies have emerged as the two primary solutions for railroad tracking.  

GPS tracking utilizes global positioning satellites and trackers to track the real-time location of an asset. By having detailed insight into the location of trains and railcars, logistics managers can quickly respond to any changes or issues that may arise. GPS tracking also provides valuable insights regarding speed, route optimization, and fuel efficiency, allowing railroad companies to reduce their operating costs.

RFID technology uses radio waves to identify and monitor assets. This allows logistics managers to quickly identify assets as they pass by certain checkpoints, enabling them to better understand their operations. RFID tags can be attached to cargo to ensure that items reach their destination without any issues while storing additional information such as date of manufacture and expiration dates which can be helpful in assessing product quality.

Pros and Cons of GPS Tracking

GPS tracking is a popular solution for many railroad tracking applications, from tracking assets to monitoring railcar safety and logistics. When it comes to railroad tracking, there are a few key advantages to using GPS tracking.  

+ High Accuracy: GPS tracking offers a much higher level of accuracy than RFID, allowing railroad operations to track the exact location of their railcars at any given time. 

+ Long-Term Reliability: GPS tracking provides long-term reliability, meaning that railroad operators won’t have to worry about the technology losing accuracy over time. 

+ Near Real-Time Monitoring: GPS tracking allows near real-time monitoring of railcars, providing a more comprehensive view of the entire railroad system.  

+ Long Term Cost Savings: GPS tracking can provide long cost savings when compared to traditional RFID solutions, due to the reduced need for replacement, maintenance and infrastructure investments.  

However, there are a few drawbacks to using GPS over RFID, including:

– Expensive Upfront Investment: In order to get started with GPS tracking, there is often a higher upfront cost.  

– Reliance on Satellite: GPS tracking relies on satellite signals, which means it may not be suitable for areas with weak reception or interference. Tracking devices cannot be covered and must have exposure to the sky limiting install locations. 

Pros and Cons of RFID

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tracking is a technology used for asset, railcar, and railroad tracking, as well as other applications. The technology uses radio waves to identify and track the location of items or objects. RFID has become increasingly popular in the railroad industry, as it can provide useful data on railroad logistics and safety. However, there are both pros and cons to using RFID for railroad tracking.  

The pros of RFID technology include: 

+ Multitasking Capability: Strong ability to track multiple items simultaneously. 

+ High Accuracy: Timely notification of location and movement data when passing checkpoints. 

+ Low Cost of Ownership: Lower initial investment in tagging. 

The cons of using RFID for railroad tracking:

– Lagging: While RFID technology does offer better visibility into asset location and movement data, it is not always able to provide real-time location updates.  

– Ongoing Maintenance and Costs: It may be necessary to invest in additional infrastructure such as readers and antennas for the system to function correctly, which can lead to higher costs over time.  

– Interference Prone: RFID tags can be prone to interference from external sources such as metal containers or nearby radio waves, reducing their effectiveness.  

Comparison of GPS Tracking and RFID

When it comes to tracking railroads and railcars, GPS and RFID both have their advantages.  

GPS provides near real-time updates on the location of a railroad asset with extremely high accuracy. It also allows for more detailed analysis of asset movements, providing useful data that can be used for asset tracking, railroad logistics, and railroad safety. GPS is also easier to install and maintain than RFID, as it does not require the installation of any additional hardware. 

On the other hand, RFID provides great data with a small footprint and is more cost effective in the short term. 

Overall, GPS tracking is the more robust, reliable solution for many rail tracking needs. Reach out to Geoforce to find out how GPS asset tracking can help improve the logistics of your organization today!