Until recent years, production-equipment rental firms had largely relied on manual systems to track their assets, identifying and recording serial numbers and descriptions rented to each customer by hand.
Unfortunately, this method is time-intensive and error-prone, especially for cables, which are often wound for storage and transport. Although they may look very similar, different cables must be properly identified by distinct attributes including length and end connector in order to properly power equipment.
More recently, barcode-based systems have been adopted to add a level of ‘auto-ID’ to the process. However, these systems still have shortcomings. Barcodes require line of sight, one at a time scanning, so that every asset must be handled and maneuvered to effect a scan. In this rugged environment, damaged or missing barcode labels are often a problem that thwarts effective scans.
Faced with the lost labor hours and slow transaction speeds of manual or barcode-based systems, one of the entertainment industry’s leading providers of lighting, grip and production supplies transformed its workflow using RFID. Software developer Database Works implemented an integrated RFID solution that included Vizinex’s cable tags and tag holders.
Redefining Rental Workflows With RFID Technology
The most important asset class to tag with RFID was cables, since they were a major check in/check out bottleneck. Using Vizinex’s Sentry Cable RFID tag and cable tag holders with an integrated rope holder feature, all of the cable assets could be tagged. The cable tag holder’s unique window feature allows operators to see the asset’s serial number and barcode, so that cables can be identified even when no RFID scanner is on hand.
Corresponding RFID tag numbers were assigned to each cable style using asset management software RentalWorks. Together with the RentalWorks QuikScan mobile app, workflow transformation was achieved by pairing an Apple device with a handheld RFID reader to scan the asset ID’s. Now entire cases of cables, camera components, light stands and fixtures and other production equipment are scanned in batches, quickly and accurately. The time staff previously spent identifying and logging equipment out to customers and back into inventory has been dramatically reduced. This frees staff for quality control and other higher value add tasks that improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs.
A well-designed RFID inventory tracking system can provide rental asset companies with a more accurate and efficient inventory workflow – and give clients the assurance that with the right equipment in place, the show will go on.