Asset tracking with radio frequency identification

Some fixed assets are literally fixed in place, while others can be shifted throughout a facility, and may be hard to find. This latter situation is a particular problem when there is an ongoing need for certain assets among different departments. The problem can be resolved through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on assets, which signal the location of the assets. The basic steps required to implement such a system are:

  1. Buy battery-powered RFID tags, one for each asset to be tracked.
  2. Install a set of RFID receivers that collect the signals generated by the tags and store the information in a central database. Locations are determined based on the strength of signals received.
  3. Instruct users in how to view the tag location information on a facility map.
  4. Adopt a procedure for regularly reviewing the battery life on each asset tag, and replace batteries as necessary.

There are several advantages to tracking assets with an RFID system. Consider the following:

  • Asset audits. It is much easier to locate fixed assets for periodic asset audits.
  • Fewer assets. The company can invest in fewer backup assets, since there will be less demand for the additional units. Instead, the primary units will be more trackable, and so will experience a higher rate of utilization.
  • Equipment hoarding. It will be more difficult for anyone to hoard assets for their personal use, since the locations of all assets will be broadcast to all users.
  • Equipment maintenance. The maintenance staff can more easily locate assets in order to perform scheduled maintenance on them.
  • Equipment theft. If assets are stolen, the database can track the assets as they are moved off-premises, which may be used as evidence for an insurance claim.
  • Labor reduction. The staff spends less time looking for missing assets, since the system will tell them where assets are currently located.

Though there are a number of advantages to fixed asset RFID tagging, there is little point in using it when assets are completely immovable. Instead, focus on situations where assets are easily moved, have high value, and are needed in multiple parts of the business.

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