Asset tracking management was forever changed when Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology was introduced around 40 years ago. Businesses of all types and sizes have greatly benefited in the features RFID brought as a useful asset tracker solution in 2020. Ask any business owner, and they will tell you the same thing; they want to have complete details on where their assets are and who has them at the time. If an efficient tracking system is absent, asset monitoring can be complicated and confusing.
Why asset tracking is vital to business
Business owners need instant access to all their company assets such as vehicles, equipment, machinery, and heavy equipment all the time. Having no complete picture of the asset’s status, availability, and location can result in delays, missed opportunities, unsatisfied customers, fines, and costly labor.
The traditional way of asset tracking management includes spreadsheets, property coding, and tagging, which all involve manual labor. Also, this method has a lot of human intervention; thus, accuracy is most of the time questionable. Both of this issue is solvable with the use of (RFID) technology which automates the process.
How RFID works
The way RFID works is a straightforward process. RFID makes use of electromagnetic fields to relay information from the source, or an RFID tag to the database. The database then can be accessible by a viewer and can also generate a report.
An RFID asset tracking structure is comprised of these components:
- RFID Tags
- Tracking Software
- RFID Viewer or reader
The above elements complete the asset tracking system of an RFID. Through the years, the customization options have dramatically improved, making it RFID asset tracking available to any business. Whether it’s warehouse items, office equipment, trucks, measuring instruments on an isolated location, RFID can guarantee you a real-time, and accurate information about your assets.
What are the types of RFID
RFID is usually available in two types of tagging systems, active and passive. Both can be utilized depending on your requirements. For assets that aren’t typically mobile or just stationary, you can use passive RFID tags. They cost less, doesn’t require power, but only has short-range capabilities.On the other hand, active RFID tags are more expensive, and bigger as compared to the passive type. However, they have broader coverage and can even reach 100 meters in some cases. Since it has active electronic components, it’s more vulnerable in the long run.
Also, active RFID tags have two major types, transponders, and beacons. Both serve the same purpose, and their only difference is how they transmit data. Transponder RFIDs can send on-demand data or anytime the user wishes to have it. Meanwhile, beacons only emit data on time intervals set by the user.
How to install RFID as an asset tracker
RFID installation and use both involve an uncomplicated process. Both tasks also only require a basic understanding of how hardware and software work together to provide users the intended result. To install and use RFID, you can follow these steps :
- RFID physical tagging. Electronically coded RFID tags are glued or fixed on the specific assets. Recent iterations of RFID tags can be as small and thin as ID cards.
- RFID Programming. The RFID will then be programmed to a specific asset where it was installed. This platform can be customized according to your needs. You can set it to time-based broadcast, proximity-based, or on-demand.
- Software installation. An application is installed on your smartphone or computer to access the specific information of a programmed asset. This will serve as your viewer or reader whenever you want to track your asset.
Asset tracking automation of RFID
Using your computer’s browser, smartphone, and other mobile devices, you can view or read the tracking status of an RFID tagged asset. This is without physically going to the asset because with RFID technology; everything is done remotely.
RFID’s innovation is a big jump from a barcoding system where you should go to the asset itself to do physical scanning using a device. This method is never easy as you have to look for the barcode sticker before a scan can be performed. With the help of RFID, you can be a few meters away and still receive a precise reading. You can quickly scan several assets at a time without the need to go to each one of them.
Also, RFID capability is not limited to asset tracking. Some RFID tags even offer extra features, such as detailed asset descriptions, history, maintenance records, and other relevant information. This feature is useful for businesses that have assets scattered across all different offices or warehouses. Updating the asset’s information can be done by a technician on-site and in real-time as well. All he has to do is access the asset’s database via a device like a tablet or a smartphone.
Other technologies, such as barcoding, are only limited to asset tagging and scanning. RFID, on the other hand, has multiple features that are many times better. Here are other advantages of using an RFID system for asset tracking :
- Multiple results. Scanning and tagging can all be done at once, even without the asset being on the line of sight. Asset tracking doesn’t require another device for scanning; a smartphone can do the job. Your employee can finish the task in only a matter of a few minutes.
- Multiple integrations to other tracking apps. Since RFID technology operates within the domain of broadcast and mobile signal, it can be integrated with Global Positioning System (GPS) system to generate more essential data related to the asset.
The RFID tags’ data is available online; thus, the report generated can be made available to authorized persons in just a matter of seconds. This can make asset tracking and inventory much faster. What used to be a day’s tedious process of manual inventory entry can be finished in a matter of hours.
- Asset data management. Since RFID tags have either a built-in or cloud-based storage, critical information about the asset can be recorded. This information is vital for the asset’s maintenance and life cycle purposes.
- Asset data security. RFID offers enhanced security features for any asset. Business owners can be alerted in real-time if an asset is moved to another area without authorization. This can help prevent theft and loss of assets, which can happen in any business.
- Save on labor costs. The RFID system can auto-generate time and situation based reports in just a few minutes. You can have an inventory, track, and pull out asset records right away. This can save you manual labor costs since you don’t have to hire or delegate an employee for the task.
As your business grows, you get to acquire more assets which you need in running your business. Inventory and logistics can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want an automated asset tracking solution that is efficient, accurate, and reliable, RFID is the answer. Investing in an RFID system for your business is worth it, considering the cost you can save in the long run.