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Asset Management Using RFID

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Definitions

Asset Management - the process of managing assets (usually physical assets) from purchase to disposal, including replenishment.

RFID - Radio Frequency Identification, a technology for uniquely identifying specific items, usually physical items.

Asset Tag with RFID and Barcode encoding

Asset Tag with both RFID and Barcode Encoding

Question...

Can RFID improve the efficiency of Asset Management Procedures?

Introduction

There are several ways that a new system can provide improved efficiency for the asset management process. The degree of improvement will depend upon the configuration. Configurations that should be considered would include: pen and clipboard, barcode, passive RFID with mobile readers, passive RFID with fixed readers, active RFID, and some combination of the above. We can perhaps take the pen and clipboard standard as the base reference, and examine all upgrades relative to that.

The All Barcode Solution

Moving to an all barcode solution with a mobile reader produce significant benefit. Asset identification is easy, fast and accurate. The operator knows exactly which assets have been processed and which have not. The system can be used to store notes providing a historical record for a given asset.

Passive RFID with Mobile Readers

Moving to the passive RFID system with a mobile reader provides some further benefits. The process of identifying assets is slightly faster, and potentially less intrusive. There may also be some benefit in identifying items which are not directly in line of sight, such as items which are already packed for transport.

But perhaps the biggest advantage is when there are many items to be confirmed. This can apply to file tracking, or when a large number of small items must be verified. In one recent situation we supplied a system which was able to verify several thousand items on a routine confirmation audit. This would have been slow with barcodes, was very rapid with RFID>

The disadvantages in moving from barcode to passive RFID include: cost of the tags, difficulty in placement of the tags (due to size), uncertainty of the readability of the tags due to surrounding materials, difficulty of marking small items such as BlackBerry phones, cosmetic issues relating to status items (such as executive laptops), difficulty in reading tags, confusion in reading through walls, difficulty knowing which item has been read.

Passive RFID with fixed readers

Moving to fixed mount readers with passive RFID reduces the effort required to identify assets. Assets can be read continuously with no human intervention.

Disadvantages in using fixed mount readers include most of those referenced for mobile readers but also include the cost of the reader, the difficulty in physically mounting the readers, the difficulty in providing and maintaining communication with the Reader (usually requiring a network drop), Reliability and the cost and management issues around maintenance.

Active RFID with static readers

Moving to the use of active RFID tags yields further significant benefits.The system is able to monitor assets over a large area without any human intervention.

Disadvantages of active RFID include: the higher cost of the tax. The difficulty in mounting the tags, due to their large size, are defined life-cycle for the tags (typically five years), the difficulty of mounting readers and providing access to those readers (usually through the network).

Conclusion

So to answer the original question, yes it is possible for RFID to provide significant benefits, but it should be noted that these come at some cost. Reviewing the above it may become apparent to the reader that each solution has its own difficulties. The most efficient overall solution is therefore usually achieved by using a combination of different technologies.

Barcodes can be used for very small devices that need to be tracked and for those where cosmetics is important. Passive RFID is used for the majority of items, with a mobile reader performing routine audits. Specific portals and key areas can be covered with static readers for passive RFID. The most expensive items, with timely knowledge is critical are best managed using active RFID.

Questions?

Call Keith Jackson or Doreen Wallace at 613 225 4404, or email to info@sagedata.com

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SageData is based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

We design, supply and support systems built around RFID, NFC, BLE, Barcodes and Handheld computers.

For further information, or for advice and assistance with your application, contact Doreen Wallace or Keith Jackson.

To reach us by phone:
from outside Ottawa, dial 1-888-838-1067
from Ottawa, dial 613 225 4404

Thank you for your interest in our products and services.bar

SDSQAP - SDSREF6363

RFID Reader
Barcode readers tethered Symbol LS2208
Everything makes sense.
- If it doesn't seem to make sense, it could just be that we don't understand it
Barcode Reader, Cordless, from Symbol
We built a system using Barcodes
to manage
Assets

- We called it BassetPro
RFID Tag, UHF, Passive
RFID and Barcode Reader

for file tracking, library and asset management

DS9808
Manage Assets in the cloud
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