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What is RFID and how can it be used in asset tracking?

Supports Asset Tracking-1

Given the widespread use of RFID in everyday life, it’s surprising that more people aren’t aware of what it is and how it works.

RFID is often used in asset tracking, so we’ve taken a look at how RFID works specifically in relation to this area, and some of the ways RFID-enabled asset tracking can deliver advantages for your business.

What is RFID?

RFID stands for radio frequency identification. RFID technology encodes digital data in RFID tags or smart labels, and this data can be captured by a reader using radio waves. RFID is similar to barcoding in that a reader device captures digital data from a tag or labels, and stores the data in a database.

However, RFID has significant advantages over barcodes - we explore this more later.

How does RFID relate to asset tracking?

Asset tracking is one of the most common uses for RFID. RFID has offered organisations new possibilities when it comes to automatically tracking assets and eliminating the need for alternatives like serial numbers, spreadsheets, or barcodes – which may require significant manual labour. RFID-enabled asset tracking can be used on any asset, but it can be of particular benefit for high value, portable, and hard-to-reach assets.

How can businesses best use RFID in asset tracking?

RFID-empowered asset tracking offers enormous advantages for businesses and other organisations.

1. Locating assets and assigning usage

Using RFID-based asset tracking, organisations can keep track of large numbers of assets across large sites and multiple sites without needing excessive manual labour. For example, by installing RFID readers around the building or integrating tags with a wireless LAN, a hospital can automatically track the real-time movement of wheelchairs, beds, IV pumps, or other medical equipment. This makes locating equipment and assigning usage much easier, especially during emergencies. Asset visibility can help drive operational performance and staff productivity for all industries, and in industries like medical care it is fundamental for patient safety and treatment outcomes.

When integrated with sensors and GPS systems, RFID tags can also be used to locate and manage transport vehicles, which is essential for the logistics industry and others in the supply chain. And for construction sectors, RFID can be used to track the all-important materials. Another example would be that RFID systems can also be used to track books for libraries and staff uniforms for hospitality businesses.

RFID-based systems tend to be cost effective and scalable, making them appropriate for large as well as small organisations.

Smart Asset’s Tracking module supports asset location and usage assignment with features like rapid check in/out and trackable asset calendar.

2. Automated tracking

RFID supports efficient, cost-effective, and partly-automated asset tracking through the use of RFID tags or labels. RFID tags can be scanned without the staff member having to see the tag or point the reader directly at it. One employee can scan 20 or even 30 tags in a matter of seconds. Adhered to or embedded in assets ranging from office equipment to IV pumps in a hospital, these labels and tags can provide highly accurate real-time tracking data regardless of the type of asset.

3. Security

RFID can enhance asset security by preventing loss and theft. For example, you can set up RFID tags and readers to log movement data or even trigger CCTV, alerts, or alarms when assets are removed from a given zone. Additionally, the enhanced security could lead to lower insurance premiums and related cost savings.

In any sector, IT asset RFID tags could help with both protecting and better planning costly IT investments.

4. Budgeting and procurement

The loss and underutilisation of mobile assets costs sectors like the healthcare industry millions every year. With RFID-based asset management, you can enjoy better visibility and real-time knowledge about your assets. Organisations can make smarter asset procurement, budgeting, and asset lifecycle management decisions.

Understanding the status of all your assets at any given time also supports other lifecycle management considerations like depreciation management, disposal management, and tax and compliance.

5. Eliminate unnecessary capital expenditure

Relatedly, RFID-based asset tracking can be used to improve asset utilisation through better visibility. By using it to eliminate underutilisation and improve usage management, your business can save on unnecessary capital expenditure on new, unnecessary device and equipment.

Smart Asset’s powerful reporting functionalities make it an essential partner for making smarter decisions about capital items.

6. Maintenance

Some RFID tags feature memory capacity, and the tag can store maintenance update details and sensor data to help field technicians stay up to date. Maintenance could be more effective as a result, enabling businesses to reduce downtime and equipment breakdowns. This can also support better work health and safety outcomes by ensuring equipment and other assets are in good condition and well maintained.

7. Streamline inventorying and auditing

RFID eliminates the need for line-of-sight scanning necessary for barcode-based systems, and a single person can scan a roomful of equipment and tools in a matter of minutes. This means businesses can leverage RFID asset tracking to streamline the inventorying and auditing process, drastically cutting the time required by as much as 90%, with potential six-figure savings on auditing costs.

RFID-based asset tracking can deliver real gains

From enhanced asset visibility and utilisation to saving time and labour on locating assets, RFID-based asset tracking can be used to deliver real gains for businesses. With these could come increased automation possibilities, operational efficiency, and higher productivity.

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