Understanding RFID Tagging Project Implementation

Selling an RFID / BLE solution is an arduous process, all the system suppliers out there know only too well how many hurdles there are. It’s a tough job, you have our admiration! But selling it is only half the battle, implementing is the other half.

We’ve worked with system suppliers across many markets, tagging assets as diverse as you can imagine. But there are some things that are entirely consistent across all the industries we’ve operated in.

Underestimating the workload

Human nature leads both buyers and sellers of asset tracking systems to underestimate the amount of labour, and time, involved in tagging the assets. We used to do the same thing, 32 million items later we’ve just about got our heads around it. I’d liken it to doing many other tasks, have you ever painted your living room, I bet you thought it’d take half the time it did, it’s natural to think we’ll get it done quicker than we actually do.

But the effects of a delay in painting your living room are somewhat different to the effects of a delay in going live with your asset tracking system. What tends to happen is the process ends up being rushed, that’s assuming someone’s tracking it and knows the schedule is not being hit. When that happens there’s another natural process that takes over, quality suffers for the sake of speed. This is why an accurate knowledge of the labour and time required for an asset tracking project is absolutely critical to it’s success, measured by hitting the deadlines and the quality of the processing.

Do you like ironing?

Well if you’re going to be involved with asset tagging it’d be good if you do like ironing. If you don’t then a repetitive task is probably not for you. If the third shirt / blouse you iron is not as good as the first then neither will the third tag you apply, or thirty third, or three hundred and…you get my drift.

A certain kind of person is suited to asset tagging, and that’s not most people. Finding those people will be key to the success of your project, look carefully, and monitor everything they do because it’s critical work!

You won’t have anyone looking over your shoulder, or retrospectively checking your work when you’re ironing, but it’s an essential part of asset tagging.

You’ve missed a bit

Across many industries we’ve seen, and repaired, the same faults no matter what the asset type. Who’s fault was it? In a way it was ours, we hadn’t portrayed well enough how we could help in the process, so nobody asked us to until it was too late. By the time we arrive on the seen the problems are already there, badly tagged assets that can’t be read by the system, causing bad data, bad customer experience and delays in the system actually working.

But why did this happen? Just like when you do your own painting your not an expert, you perhaps don’t like the work, get bored or frustrated and didn’t do enough research on the process required. If you’d brought in an expert in the field to help there’d be no need to repair it afterwards. The same goes for asset tagging. There’s a need to understand the technology, be happy in the work and to be monitored closely.

When we fix these problems we see very clearly what’s happened, and the vast majority of errors fall into a few key categories;

  1. Lack of a clearly defined process for tagging each asset
  2. Lack of technical knowledge about the system and how it works
  3. Lack of quality through boredom or general disinterest
  4. Lack of quality monitoring and correction
  5. Lack of training – re-training where required

If you’re tackling an asset tagging project you need to bear all these things in mind, and plan accordingly.

Nothing works without a sense of responsibility

It’s essential that those performing the asset tagging have a sense of responsibility, that they see the importance of the outcome and feel responsible for that outcome. You should think very carefully about how to impart that sense of responsibility on the team you employ for the project, whether internal staff, agency or temporary staff, an outsourced labour provider, or better still a specialist asset tagging company who stand and fall on their reputation for excellent work.

Without that sense of responsibility can you really expect all members of the team to understand the potential consequences of their actions, every minute of every day. Because that’s exactly what you need them to do. A high volume repetitive task needs a level of care beyond the normal day to day working method of most people. It takes a certain kind of person to see the application of a tag to an asset as critical to the success of the project. The very nature of the process causes apathy to set in and that’s when mistakes happen.

Summary

Once you’ve done the hard work, building and then selling an asset tracking solution, then the RFID implementation becomes the important part.

Human nature makes us underestimate the timescale required for asset tracking, be careful not to.

There’s a small group of categories that cause problems with asset tagging projects, if you manage these categories your project will succeed.

A sense of responsibility from your team, whoever they are, is essential to success. Imparting that sense is one thing, keeping it at the forefront of everyones mind is another.

If you’re performing your own asset tagging project we have a free download of a generic asset tagging project plan below.

 

The Tagging Team have RFID tagged 32 million+ items by hand.

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About the Author:

Martin Parsons is the managing director of The Tagging Team Ltd., an asset tracking implementation service provider based in Manchester, England, with more than 36 million RFID tags correctly installed to date.
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