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Ask the Experts: How Does RFID Improve Fixed Asset Management?

Updated from a 2016 blog post.

Why RFID is the best solution for fixed asset management

Taking accurate inventory of physical assets for financial and/or compliance reasons can be time-consuming, expensive and disruptive to normal operations. Applying RFID tags to the asset management problem can streamline this process and reduce the associated duration and cost.

Traditional asset identification methods, using serialized asset tags with printed or embossed human- and/or barcode-readable serial numbers, have been in use for years. For the longest-lasting assets, these identifiers can be metal plates riveted in place. For assets with shorter lifespans, they are simple poly or paper labels affixed to the assets with pressure-sensitive adhesive. Some asset tags have human readable information, others also include a barcode.

Replacing these traditional identification methods with RFID tags has many potential advantages:

Efficiency of data collection

RFID tags can be read at a distance without direct line of sight. Information on dozens or even hundreds of assets can be gathered in seconds. This eliminates the need to locate and read individual asset tags – saving many hours of auditors’ time.

Error reduction

Damaged barcodes or labels can be misread, and human-readable methods rely on accurate reading and transcription. RFID eliminates these potential errors.

Durability

Although traditional asset tags can be made very durable, the less expensive paper and poly labels are easily scratched or otherwise damaged so that reading them becomes difficult. RFID tags can be engineered to survive most conditions. The identifying function in RFID is the antenna, which can be protected from damage by a protective layer of material.

Flexibility

Traditional tags are write once and done. RFID tags can be reprogrammed with new information, to update the data on an asset, or to re-assign the tag from a retired asset to a new one.

Data Capacity

RFID tags have user memory, which can be utilized to store information about an asset’s attributes, chain of custody or life cycle management. Traditional asset tags have no ability to have information added or changed during the asset’s life.

Security

  • Traditional asset labels are relatively easy to counterfeit. RFID tags contain unique identifiers that cannot be altered.
  • Traditional asset tags must be visible and can be located easily by someone wishing to alter or remove them. RFID tags can be completely invisible, hidden inside covers or mechanisms. In the most extreme case, RFID tags can be molded into the plastic or fiber components of the asset, where they cannot be accessed without damaging the asset.
  • RFID asset tags can be used to passively monitor the location of assets. RFID portals can detect the movement within the facilities of a firm, or when the asset is removed from the premises.

RFID tags are, generally, more expensive than traditional asset tags, and RFID readers are more expensive than barcode readers or clipboards. However, these more sophisticated RFID tools provide a very quick payback, with dramatically reduced audit times, reduction of error rates, improved asset security and diminished impact of audits on operations.

If your firm keeps track of assets with physical audits, you can reap serious benefits by shifting to RFID based asset management.

Need an easier way to manage fixed assets? We can help. Contact us today to get started.

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