Explanation: What is RFID Asset Tagging?
Any physical asset is exactly that, an asset. Asset tagging will help you to track your assets, for a number of reasons:
- To ensure loss is minimised
- To ensure maximum use is made of your assets
- To manage repair / maintenance of assets
- To manage PAT testing schedules
- To manage asset flow through your off-site projects
- In some instances, managing one asset in turn manages other assets, logistics is a good example of this, by managing transportation boxes / cages / dollies etc. you manage the assets or more likely commodities within them
- Saving money, by understanding your assets better your make better use of them and save money against waste and loss
RFID is part of many asset management systems and forms the link between the asset itself and the database that stores the required information for that asset. But the system itself, is a process and system which allows you to maximise the usage of your assets.
How Does RFID Work and What Are my RFID Options?
There are a number of types of RFID tags using slightly different technology within them to communicate with a reader.
An RFID tag will usually contain an aerial and a microchip. Some will contain a battery but most will not. All RFID uses radio frequency to communicate, some operate on High Frequency some on Ultra High Frequency. The main difference is the distance the signal can travel, UHF travels further than HF as a rule of thumb. There are also both powered and passive RFID tags, put simply, powered tags have a battery and can send a signal further, passive has no battery and generates charge from the radio signal it receives from the reader, its signal is not as strong and therefore doesn’t travel as far.
Many systems on the market today, most systems, will use RFID instead of a barcode, though this is not a necessity it has a number of key benefits.
- Firstly, the ability to read multiple items quickly and simply. A recent retail application of RFID showed a more accurate read was achieved than a manual barcode scan process.
- Secondly, the speed of the data capture with the RFID system was less than 5% of the time taken in a manual process.
Example use case:
Picture a large warehouse full of inventory, any kind of inventory. Almost every organisation running such a place would require a monthly, perhaps quarterly or possibly just an annual check of that inventory. The cost of doing that is high, the accuracy in a manual process is low. So, you have a high cost low accuracy process, which basically means an expensive waste of time.
By using an RFID based, probably a UHF passive system, the process is entirely different. The read accuracy should be 99%+, the speed of the process should equate to less than a couple of percent of a manual process. The end result is a very accurate, very quick stock take, which has great value both in terms of time saved and stock management.
But, and it’s a big but, you shouldn’t need to do that at all!
The fact you have an RFID based asset tracking / management system operational means you should have a live asset database that’s accurate, wouldn’t that be a revelation.
What Are the Different Types of RFID?
The two most widely used RFID types are Active and Passive. Active RFID tags are self-powered, allowing the tag to have a larger communication distance and more memory capabilities. Passive RFID tags are powered by an electromagnet signal that is transmitted from the reader, making them a slightly cheaper option than active RFID. Passive RFID works by using the signal from the reader to charge the tags capacitor, supplying the power needed to communicate.
The simplest way to break RFID down however is by the frequency in which they operate. These are low frequency, high frequency and ultra-high frequency. The RFID tags radio waves act differently depending on these frequencies. Let’s take a look at the benefits of each.
Low Frequency RFID penetrates most materials, from water to body tissue, making it ideal for animal identification. Tags can also be easily applied to any non-metallic items and will provide a short-read range of around 10cm. LF RFID does mean a relatively low data transfer rate, so slower communication and it can be affected by electrical noise in an industrial environment.
High frequency RFID is not as effective as low frequency in the presence of water and body tissue but should not be affected by electrical noise in an industrial environment. Making this type of RFID system more popular in ticketing and data transfer applications.
HF RFID has a higher data transfer rate and this increase in speed allows for the reader to communicate with multiple tags at one time. A HF reader can read more than 50 tags per second with read range of between 10cm and 1m.
Ultra-high frequency is perfect for supply chain markets where a longer read range is required. UHF RFID has a read range as long as 12m, a faster data rate than LF and HF RFID and its performance remains high even in difficult environments.
On paper RFID is really quite simple, but its capabilities are huge and it’s becoming a powerful tool for all industries. Before implementing RFID a good understanding of the technology is advised in order to find a process that has the most benefit and return on investment (ROI) for you. This article gave you a basic understanding of what RFID is and how RFID works but please get in touch if you want to further discuss the benefits of RFID for your business.
What are the benefits to RFID Asset Tagging?
Retail stores have shown an 8% – 10% sales growth from knowing what they have in real time. Using RFID technology for real time stock analysis means popular items don’t run out of stock.
QUICK, PRECISE IDENTIFICATION FOR INVENTORY
RFID allow items to be identified quickly and reliably. The speed of data capture using an RFID system is less than 5% of the time taken in a manual process
RFID tags have a memory chip installed allowing storage of an items; location, seriel number, manufacturer, temperature throughout a journey, vibration data for fragile goods., use history and even a maintenance schedule
LIVE ACCURATE DATABASE
Having an operational RFID based asset tracking / management system, means you have a live asset database that’s accurate
The efficiency and accuracy of the selection process created by RFID management systems means a quicker distribution time
REDUCED LABOUR IN LOGISTICS MANAGEMENT
Keeping track of your assets can be extremely labour intensive and time consuming. RFID reduces this with greater logistics control
IMPROVED READ ACCURACY
The read accuracy of RFID is 99%+. The speed of the process should equate to less than a couple of percent of a manual process
MULTIPLE ITEMS AT ONCE
RFID tags use radio signals to identify an item so there’s no need for line of sight. The ability to read multiple items quickly means a faster read is achieved than a manual barcode scan process.
Who will perform the asset tagging procedure?
This is number 1 on the list of asset tagging challenges to consider for a very good reason. As a commercial asset tagging company we’ve seen the results of badly tagged assets, across a number of industries.
Your first instinct is probably to use your own staff to perform the task, that would be the natural conclusion. Please don’t, or if you do, make sure that the asset data being input is closely monitored. Managing the quality of the tagging process is essential.
The difference between using a commercial tagging company and internal staff, in many instances but not all, is the quality of the work. There’s often a temptation to use staff who may well see the system as a negative not a positive. Asset tagging is often seen as a big brother system, a security system showing a mistrust of staff, or an opportunity to have less staff. None of these things will help your asset tagging process. Other companies have used agency staff to perform the tagging, again not a good plan, we’ve seen the results, they are generally not good.
Bear in mind that your asset register is only as good as the data entered into it, if it’s wrong then the whole thing is useless.
If you’re worried about tagging standards and the affect that has on your overall tagging project, we can provide you with the stress-free help you need to nail the RFID asset tagging procedure!
Easy Implementation Plan
- Estimate your asset totals
- Tell us across how many sites
- We suggest a tag and software supplier to suit your needs
- We create a project plan
- We implement and complete to agreed deadline
Our Agreement Plan
- Guaranteed Deadline
- Guaranteed Quality
And if you don’t want our service we’re still more than happy to help! Here’s a link to a free RFID project plan to help ensure your project isn’t hampered or delayed.
RFID asset tracking is a method to quickly and efficiently monitor assets of almost any type. It protects from losses, manages the use of your assets, maximises returns on assets, increases overall efficiency and ultimately saves both time and money.
Maximum efficiency is achieved through intense management of any tagged assets, creating all the obvious benefits that surround that result.
The RFID element of the system is the conduit from the asset itself to the database that manages the asset data. A number of RFID system types can be utilised with different benefits and costs to each.
The key challenges revolve around implementation, from tagging your assets to setting up a reader infrastructure and integrating with your current systems.