Case Studies

Two-Tag Passive RFID Solution Designed for Data Centers Makes IT Asset Tracking Affordable

When the choice was expensive but robust active RFID or inexpensive passive RFID that couldn’t provide sufficient location information, this manufacturer of data center equipment decided to forge a third path and create a solution that delivers real time location data at a fraction of the cost of active tags using an innovative combination of passive tags.

Most asset tracking systems for data centers take one of two approaches. Active tags facilitate real time location systems (RTLS)—the ability to locate specific assets within the data center quickly and accurately. But they’re also expensive, coming in at 10 to 25 times more than passive tags. This is a daunting expense when you’re talking about a building full of IT assets. Active tags also require maintenance with batteries that need replacing at intervals.

Passive tags are much less expensive, nearly maintenance free and greatly speed the process of periodic inventories, significantly streamlining the locating of assets that stay put. Unfortunately, data center assets aren’t static; they’re moved regularly for maintenance and facility reconfiguration to accommodate growth. A standard passive RFID system just wouldn’t track these location changes very effectively.

A maker of data center cabinets and other equipment, when faced with deciding between these two compromises, developed an idea that would allow them to secure the benefits of an active tag in an all-passive solution—and they approached Vizinex to help make it happen.

Creating Custom Solutions That Save

The manufacturer conceptualized a two-tag system that would solve the real time location problems of a standard passive RFID without the high cost and maintenance headaches associated with active solutions.

The primary tag is an HF, short-read-range tag that is applied in a specific position on the side of the asset. Antennas are built into each data center rack, which read the tag on the asset when it is mounted in the rack. The system then pinpoints the asset location based on which antenna is reading the asset tag. This locating system is exceptionally accurate and functions in real time; as soon as an asset is installed or removed, the system captures that information.

Secondary tracking is accomplished with a standard UHF tag applied to the IT asset that is used to locate the device when it’s not in the rack. When the asset is removed for repair or upgrade, or moved to storage, it can easily and automatically be logged into or out of these other locations.

The manufacturer could use off-the-shelf UHF tags for the secondary tracking, but they needed a custom tag to complete the primary tracking step that would see the most traffic.

Vizinex quickly and inexpensively created tough, reliable HF tags that would work on both metal and non-metal surfaces and would withstand rough handling during maintenance and configuration changes in the data center. Since the tags would be mounted on the outside of the assets, which would be sliding in and out of racks, they also had to be low profile so as not to interfere with operations.

The data center asset manufacturer has successfully used the new two-tag system in pilot applications and Vizinex is looking forward to seeing data centers taking advantage of this innovative and affordable RFID solution.

If you have a challenging RFID tag application, contact us today and realize the benefits of Vizinex RFID.

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