The Low Cost of Mobile RFID
HLG Products & Functions Technical & Industry Thoughts

The Low Cost & Effort to Implement a Mobile RFID Solution

Last week we talked about the differences between Mobile versus Portal RFID solutions and their differing contributions regarding the Cost & Effort of introducing this technology.  While RFID offers tremendous advantages for an organization, what it takes to get there can be challenging and expensive.

This week we’re going to look at the mobile RFID solution more closely – specifically the out-of-pocket expenditures and the effort involved.

While utilizing RFID portals can be a great way to leverage this technology, a mobile approach will be less costly and risky – especially at the start.  Whichever way you choose to go, you’ll need to acquire the components and then take steps to create the solution.

For a mobile RFID solution, that looks like this:

The Solution Components

The Software

  • Host/ERP/System of Record – The eventual benefactor of the data capture process
  • Application – The tool that provides the communications and work direction

The Hardware & Media

  • RFID Tags – The media to be read (may include other markings like barcodes for optimal performance)
  • Device – The mobile tool that enables us to go to the item versus bringing that item to us (forcing an item to move through a portal or series of portals)
  • Scanner – The tool that works with the device to read the RFID tags – wherever they’re located

The Resources

  • People – what brings all of this together & makes it all work

 The Solution Implementation Process

The steps involved in standing up a mobile RFID solution include:

  • Define what items need to be captured with RFID and when
  • Identify the people that need to be involved and how
  • Select the application solution to manage the incoming data (will determine the best tags and devices for your needs)
  • Acquire & physically apply the RFID tags to the items
  • Set up the solution components: software, communications, devices
  • Train the application user team

The Solution Numbers

Now let’s look at what a Mobile approach could look like using a mobilePLUS-based scenario that leverages RFID:

In this example, our client has ten locations and 20,000 items.  In addition to the need for physical inventories, they need to ensure new items get tagged and recorded as they arrive and track them as they move around their different locations.

They elect a two-phase approach.  The initial project effort will focus on two locations and 5,000 of their items.

Phase One of the project (two locations & 5,000 items) requires the client to acquire:

  • Software license necessary for five users – $2,000 monthly software subscription (range is $1,500+)
  • 5,000 RFID tags – estimate at $2 each (range is 50¢ – $4)
  • 5 RFID Mobile Devices with Scanners – estimate at $2,000 each (range is $1,500 – $3,000)
  • Services & Training – approximately $5,000 (range is $4,500 – ?)
  • Total Investment – $25,000 for tags, hardware, and services, plus monthly software subscription

This two-stage approach enables the client to benefit from RFID within a few days of receiving the hardware & tags.  As a result, they’ll experience faster and more accurate information regarding the items they are managing.

Phase one also provides feedback on any additional tweaking beneficial for a full project rollout – all with 100% flexibility where RFID needs to be leveraged – no infrastructure buildout costs.

When the client is ready, they start Phase Two and expand the Mobile RFID solution to their remaining items and locations.    An estimate to complete the project to a full deployment could be around $90,000 ($65,000 for the remaining tags and hardware), plus monthly software subscription fees.

The bulk of investment (for any RFID implementation, really) is in the physical RFID tags and the devices.  Both tags and devices have a wide range of costs – but that also means that you’ll have many options in optimizing these tools for your specific situation.RFID Mobile Device Group

The foundation of the solution that makes these hardware and media investments work is the software application.  With mobilePLUS, you have a solution that is pre-built to manage everything necessary to leverage RFID technology.

The key is that the faster you deploy a solution – the faster you will experience the benefits and the return on your investment.  A Mobile RFID approach can quickly pay for itself in improved efficiencies, reduced asset costs, and much more.


HL Group has been supplying barcode and RFID-based solutions to the market for over 20 years for the Workday, PeopleSoft, DPAS, and other government and commercial markets.  Our white paper, “The Case for Automating Asset Management Inventories,” explores areas where you may benefit from improved tracking of your unique items.

If you’re curious if RFID may be a viable option for your organization – contact us.  We’d be happy to talk through what you’re trying to accomplish and help you get started.