RFID is quickly becoming critical for weapons tracking, and the reasons are obvious. For any military installation or law enforcement agency, losing even one weapon presents a potentially catastrophic scenario. But the reality is that many of these organizations still rely on outdated, error-prone systems that can actually expose them to greater liability. In this post, we take a look at the top 4 ways RFID can help.
If a single military or police-owned weapon is stolen or misplaced, and then used in a crime, the fallout can be catastrophic. And that’s just one weapon. It’s impossible to quantify the damage when a larger number of weapons is at stake.
For military and law enforcement, government mandated audits and tight security are the norm. Because of this, most armories have strong auditing and security systems in place. But conducting these audits and security checks using traditional manual methods can be labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Fortunately, RFID can automate much of the weapons auditing process. But before we get into the benefits, let’s quickly review which RFID tags work best for weapons tracking applications.
Best RFID Tags for Weapons Tracking
Tracking weapons is a tough job. The RFID tags that make this possible have to survive things like:
- Aggressive cleaning agents
- Severe vibration
- Blunt force
- Extreme temperatures
For these reasons, you need an RFID tag made to withstand such demanding conditions. Or, if you have more nuanced requirements, you should consider something engineered for your specific dimensional, environmental and spatial needs.
But regardless of your specific needs, when it comes to weapons tracking, Passive Ultra High Frequency (UHF) tags are ideal. They’re inexpensive, very reliable, have short read ranges (8-20 feet) and can last a long, long time. This makes them perfect for weapons tracking.
Passive UHF tags make it easy for personnel to walk through an armory with a reader and audit all of the weapons in minutes. And because passive UHF tags draw power from the reader, you can install an antenna on the window of the checkout area to automate check-in/check-out transactions.
4 Benefits of RFID for Weapons Tracking
#1 Streamlines Audits
Manually running equipment audits to verify assets can be extremely time-consuming. When using barcodes or pen and paper, this usually involves a person manually removing every weapon in the armory and then reading and recording the serial number.
These processes often lead to low quality data. When you have someone using a clipboard and writing serial numbers down, there’s a chance for errors in data. Barcodes are slightly better, but there’s still opportunity error.
In addition to being error-prone, this work can take up an entire workday. But for weapons tracking, frequent checks are required, sometimes daily. This creates a huge demand for labor, taking up countless hours of time.
What does this mean for large armories? At some of the largest military bases in the U.S., there are personnel whose only job is reading serial numbers all day.
RFID uses automation to drastically reduce the time it takes to conduct a daily audit while vastly improving the quality of the data. Now, someone can walk through the armory with an RFID reader and gather info on hundreds of weapons in seconds.
With an RFID weapons tracking solution, you can do eight hours of work in half an hour. This makes it possible to conduct fast and comprehensive weapons checks every day – which, in turn, cuts auditing expenses and frees up manpower for other jobs.
#2 Enforces Safety
When managing armories or supplies of weapons, having a system that keeps the right weapons in the right hands is essential.
Fortunately, RFID excels at automating the tracking of equipment. For weapons, this means a comprehensive system to track weapons issuing, returns and storage. This data accounts for the weapon’s entire history, recording a clear chain of custody.
When issuing weapons to personnel, RFID can automate the transaction and pair personnel clearances and equipment qualifications to every weapon in your arsenal.
Simply scan an I.D. badge and scan the RFID tag. The two databases do the rest, pairing the weapon to the operator.
When the weapon is ready for return, the systems automate the transaction in reverse. This is helpful for making sure the right person is returning the weapon. It also helps when issuing weapons for deployments. In those cases, RFID can assist in matching weapons to personnel based on qualifications and mission and team needs.
For additional security, armories can also utilize RFID portal readers. When installed at key entrances and access points, portal readers can monitor weapons departures and keep a record of when weapons leave the facility.
With an RFID portal reader system in place, organizations can wield greater control over their weapons. Furthermore, RFID tags can be added to additional items, such as ammo, explosives and weapons attachments, to further increase security measures.
#3 Protects Against Liability
Weapons are highly valuable and expensive assets. They also come with huge liabilities. And, when these costly assets disappear, the expenses don’t. The liability of just a few lost weapons can range from thousands to millions of dollars.
RFID alleviates this liability by improving the way weapons are secured, tracked and recovered. They do this by providing real-time weapons location data that detects when assets slip out of custody and assists in locating and recovering the weapon.
Because of their high performance and low cost of implementation, RFID tags can effectively alleviate hundreds of thousands of dollars of liability for just a few dollars per tag.
#4 Simplifies Upkeep
Weapons require a lot of upkeep. While operators will tend to clean the weapons on active use, more comprehensive maintenance on active and inactive weapons requires its own system.
Conducting and tracking performance tests and repairs can be painfully time consuming. And if you don’t keep track, lots of time and money will be wasted on unnecessary or overlapping upkeep of weapons that don’t need it.
For these reasons, many armories utilize preventative software maintenance systems to track this data. A maintenance system will flag when a specific weapon needs to be maintained.
However, you then need to manually locate the weapon you’re looking for. And when you’re regularly conducting maintenance on hundreds of weapons, this can take countless hours.
RFID helps you quickly locate the weapons you need to conduct maintenance on. This streamlines the upkeep process by drastically reducing the amount of time it takes to locate weapons for preventative maintenance.
RFID offers an automated, far more reliable way to track and manage weapons assets. Still, it’s important to find the right tag type – and tag vendor – for your needs. And the right solution will always be one meets the exact specifications of your environment.
Need an exact RFID weapons tracking solution? Vizinex can help. Contact us today with your RFID questions.