Tagging products and tracking real time

I want to create an project where products/ items need to be tagged and tracked realtime when they move from one location to anothe.
I understand that it can be done by RFID tags and reader. However, readers are costly option as i have several workstation. Is there any other method to do it without being expensiv?

Appreciate your support.

Hello there.

Ruling out the RFID option because of cost will eliminate most of the other options available as well , for example, optical and ultrasonic based readers. Are you looking at monitoring the products / items during transit, or is it a point to point solution you are after. I ask as whether a GPS based solution would be viable, e.g. I know Google has an android app based method where Vehicles are tracked in real time (look up Transport Tracker solution - Google).

The need for realtime would indicate the need for a networked solution. Again, is this project for a localised area (where the send and receive network can be covered over a single network / AP) or separate physical locations?.

Otherwise, the only other possibility would be a barcode type setup. I know there are lots of arduino based DIY barcode scanner projects if you’re looking for something relative simple. None the less, regardless of the setup, a reader of some sort will be needed on both the send and recieve ends with time stamping and the ability to wirelessly transmit data upon a send or recieve event to a central network location or computer to track the product.

Dear Paul,
Thanks for your quick response.
This is a localised project and can be covered by a network as under one rooftop.
Actually , i was looking for something in between barcode and RFID. Barcode is not an option as scanning will create difficulty. Rfid best option only issue becomes that i will require many readers which makes it expensive. :frowning:

Hope that i was able to explain my proble.
Thanks again

Hello Again Ai.bokor,

Sorry I have been a while with the delayed reply and Thanks for clarifying your problem for me. Ok, so by elimination, looks like we can rule out GPS, bluetooth, sonar as well as RFID and Barcode. You mentioned cost and complexity were issues too as well as localised movement environment. I guess the best thing I could probably suggest then would to perhaps use a simplified kanban ( visual card ) type setup widely used in production centres to monitor the stage (and location) an item is in the production and transport cycle. This will involve (as with all tracking systems) an attached tag, in this particular method, a physical card that accumulates marks,coloured stamps, hole punches etc. The number and colour of these marks could perhaps be used to trace back where (and when) the product is. A reader could be a webcam or colour sensor (if reading imagery with say open GL presents a complexity issue) which is connected to a wireless transmitter that sends the result to a server where the network is hosted.

Hiya, and welcome to the community!
If you’re happy to manually scan the items as they move from one station to another, then RFID may be the simplest option. An RDIF sticker can be purchased for around one cent, well, more like a roll of 100 can be purchased for $1 last time I checked.
If you only have one or two workstations, then readers are available from around $5 to $20, and I’ve seen some advertised as cheaply as $2.50.
A camera tracking system, while automated and possibly reducing the need for manual scanning, may only be viable if you can find cheap, used webcams and something to plug them all in to.
Depending on your price range and what you’re doing, RFID may be the way to go.

If what you want is for the movement of items to be tracked without being scanned by an operator, then you may be interested in longer range RFID, but these readers can get a little costly.

For absolute positioning of items inside a room, then we’re talking about a local positioning system, and that’s a whole new can of worms.
Please let us know in more detail if any of these may seem suitable or if anything I’m saying sounds like it’d be helpful, and I can go into further detail and assist you more specifically.
(I’ve played around with RFID a fair bit before and am pretty familiar with its limits, what I’ve seen in some cases is someone put a large reader under their workbench to automatically scan any items they place on it)
What matters most is your intended application, as that’d probably give us a clearer indication of what may best suit you, but if you don’t want to go into further details on the specifics of your project that’s fine, we’ll help you the best we can anyway.
All the best, Ryan.