RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology solutions have been widely adopted in asset tracking innovation across different industries to drive business efficiencies, cost-savings, and higher visibility over internal controls.
This article explores the cutting-edge integration of RFID solutions with Asset Tracking programs. As essentially a Tracking Technology, RFIDs efficiently monitor and manage assets in digital platforms. By tagging assets with RFID labels or tags, organizations can easily track their location and monitor their movement in real-time.
What Is Asset Tracking and How does RFID work?
Asset tracking refers to the process of monitoring and managing physical assets throughout their lifecycle. It involves using various technologies and systems to track and trace the location, movement, status, and other relevant information of assets in real-time. The goal of asset tracking is to improve operational efficiency, optimize asset utilization, prevent loss or theft, and enable informed decision-making regarding maintenance, repairs, and replacements.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is one of the technologies commonly used in asset tracking systems. RFID utilizes radio waves to wirelessly transmit data between RFID tags or labels attached to assets and RFID readers or scanners.
The RFID system consists of three main components:
- RFID Asset Tags or Labels are property identification labels that contain a RF Chip with an unique identifier electronically to store any information about the tagged asset.
- RFID Readers or Scanners are devices that capture the data transmitted by RFID tags. These readers can be handheld, fixed, or integrated into other devices such as smartphones or tablets. They receive signals from the RFID tags in their proximity and communicate with a central database or software system.
- RFID Software manages the collected data and stores the unique identifiers of the RFID tags to associate them with relevant information about the assets, such as accounting records, field visibility, maintenance records, locations, etc.
RFID technology offers several advantages in asset tracking. It allows for non-contact and wireless data capture, enabling fast and efficient tracking of assets. RFID tags can be read from a distance and even through materials, eliminating the need for direct line-of-sight scanning.
By automating data capture and providing real-time visibility, RFIDs streamline asset management and tracking processes to improve operational efficiency, and make data-driven decisions.
What is the difference between RFID asset tracking and barcode asset tracking?
RFID asset tracking and barcode asset tracking are two distinct methods used for tracking and managing assets. These methods differ in their underlying technologies, data capture mechanisms, range, automation capabilities, durability, scalability, and cost.
RFID asset tracking relies on radio frequency technology, where assets are tagged with RFID tags that contain unique identifiers and other relevant data. RFID readers or scanners communicate wirelessly with the RFID tags, capturing data from multiple tags simultaneously. This non-contact data capture enables efficient tracking and monitoring of assets.
On the other hand, barcode asset tracking relies on optical scanning technology. Assets are labeled with barcode labels that contain a series of black and white lines representing encoded information. Barcode scanners or smartphones with barcode scanning capabilities are used to visually scan the barcodes. Line-of-sight scanning is required, with each barcode needing to be individually scanned. Barcode asset tracking is a cost-effective solution for tracking assets on a smaller scale. It is commonly used in applications where a lower volume of assets needs to be tracked and where simplicity and affordability are prioritized.
Inventory data collection – RFID vs. Barcode
RFID asset tracking relies on radio frequency technology, enabling non-contact and bulk data capture at a greater range and faster speed. RFID provides scalability, allowing for the tracking of numerous assets simultaneously, while barcode tracking may become more challenging with increasing asset volumes.
In contrast, barcode asset tracking utilizes optical scanning technology, requiring line-of-sight scanning and individual barcode scanning.
Scanning distance – RFID vs. Barcode
RFID asset tracking offers a greater range compared to barcode asset tracking. RFID tags can be read from a distance of several meters, even if they are not in the line of sight of the reader. This range advantage enables efficient tracking in large facilities or environments where assets are not easily accessible.
Barcode scanning, in contrast, requires close proximity and direct visibility between the barcode label and the scanner.
Automation Technology – RFID vs. Barcode
RFID asset tracking also provides automation capabilities, as RFID readers can automatically detect and record the presence of tagged assets without manual intervention. This automation saves time and reduces the risk of human error. Barcode asset tracking, on the other hand, requires manual scanning, which can be time-consuming and prone to inaccuracies.
Can RFID asset tracking integrate with existing fixed asset management systems or ERP systems?
RFID asset tracking can integrate with existing fixed asset management systems or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems. Integration allows for seamless data exchange and synchronization between the RFID asset tracking system and the organization’s existing software infrastructure.
Integration with fixed asset management systems enables the RFID asset tracking data to be automatically transferred to the central asset management database. This integration ensures that the asset tracking information, such as location updates, maintenance records, and asset status, is synchronized and updated in real-time. It eliminates the need for manual data entry, reduces errors, and provides a comprehensive view of asset-related information within the existing asset management system.
Similarly, integration with ERP systems allows for the exchange of data between the RFID asset tracking system and other business functions such as procurement, inventory management, and financials. By integrating RFID asset tracking with the ERP system, organizations can streamline processes, improve accuracy, and enhance overall operational efficiency. For example, when an asset is received or moved, the RFID system can automatically update the ERP system to reflect the change, triggering actions such as updating inventory records or accounting information.
The specific integration capabilities will depend on the RFID asset tracking solution and the compatibility with the existing fixed asset management system or ERP system. It is important to choose an RFID asset tracking solution that offers flexible integration options, such as APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), web services, or pre-built connectors, to ensure smooth integration with the desired software systems.
Before implementing integration, it is recommended to consult with the RFID asset tracking solution provider and the provider of the existing fixed asset management or ERP system. They can provide guidance on the integration process, compatibility requirements, and any necessary configuration or customization needed to establish the integration successfully.
How accurate is RFID asset tracking?
RFID asset tracking can provide 25x faster data collection with more than 99% data accuracy in tracking and locating assets, when compared to barcodes data collection. However, the accuracy of RFID asset tracking can be influenced by various factors, including the quality of the RFID system, environmental conditions, tag placement, and interference from nearby objects or radio signals. Proper RFID Tagging is important for accurate asset management and tracking. Ensuring that RFID tags are attached or embedded in a way that optimizes readability and minimizes interference can improve accuracy.
RFID asset tracking systems are designed to provide accurate and reliable data capture. When an RFID tag is within the range of an RFID reader, the reader can capture the unique identifier and other information stored on the tag with a high degree of accuracy. The technology allows for fast and non-contact data capture, reducing human errors associated with manual data entry or barcode scanning.
How to select the right RFID tag for your asset tracking system?
Selecting the appropriate RFID tag for your specific situation and environment is crucial. With numerous options available, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. For instance, metal-mount and rugged RFID tags are typically custom tags used for asset identification and tracking, while flexible RFID labels are typically used as property asset tags for managing fixed assets.
- Off-metal RFID tags are flexible RFID labels to non-metal assets. Available in various sizes and shapes, they offer read ranges of up to 20 feet. Standard RFID tags are particularly suitable for plastic surfaces.
- Metal mount RFID tags are flexible RFID labels designed for metal surfaces, these tags use foam adhesive to reduce RF interference. They typically have a reading range of 5-6 feet.
- RFID hang tags can be attached to assets using cable ties or other similar fasteners. They are easy to remove and reattach when needed.
- RFID windshield tags are commonly used for access control in vehicle tracking, parking garages, and toll collection systems.
- RFID hard tags are designed for heavy-duty use. These tags are resistant to impact and water submersion. They can be affixed using mechanical fasteners or adhesives and provide a long read range.
Consulting with RFID experts and providers can help you make an informed decision and select the optimal tag for your situation.
How does RFID asset tracking improve supply chain management?
RFID asset tracking can significantly improve supply chain management by providing real-time visibility, enhancing inventory accuracy, enabling efficient logistics operations, and improving overall supply chain efficiency.
Below presents a few ways RFID asset tracking contribute to supply chain management improvement:
- Real-Time Visibility can be achieved using RFID asset tracking, since it allows for real-time monitoring and visibility of assets throughout the supply chain. By attaching RFID tags to products, containers, or pallets, their movement can be tracked automatically as they pass through RFID readers installed at key checkpoints. This real-time visibility provides accurate information on the location, status, and movement of assets, enabling better planning, decision-making, and proactive management of the supply chain.
- Higher Inventory Accuracy is reached with RFID asset tracking, which provides more reliable and automated data capture compared to manual or barcode-based systems. With RFID, inventory counts can be conducted quickly and accurately, reducing the need for manual stocktaking and minimizing inventory discrepancies. Real-time inventory data helps optimize stock levels, prevent stockouts, minimize excess inventory, and improve demand forecasting.
- Data Analytics and Process Optimization – The data collected through RFID asset tracking can be analyzed to gain valuable insights into supply chain performance and identify areas for improvement. By analyzing the movement patterns, bottlenecks, and dwell times of assets, supply chain managers can optimize processes, identify inefficiencies, and make data-driven decisions to streamline operations.
Where to start if you think RFID Asset Tracking can help
The most appropriate place to start is to reevaluate those business processes and internal controls you wish could be automated. For instance, one may choose to streamline Fixed Asset Management tasks with the implementation of RFID Asset Tagging systems to their facilities, plants, and departments. By integrating RFIDs with ERP Systems, firms eliminate manual data entry, individual scanning, data verification (reconciliation), and asset searching. As well as creating real-time visibility for Asset Tracking and Management operations.
CPCON has vast experience in guiding firms to business processes solutions and advanced RFID technology. So let us help you get started today.