What is RFID Asset Tracking?

Osmand Vitez

Radio frequency identification (RFID) allows a company to track various items through the use of a micro-computer chip and scanner. RFID asset tracking allows companies to place trackers, or tags, within large and small assets to ensure the items do not leave the company’s buildings. Costs have come down significantly since the introduction of RFID asset tracking. Wireless options are also available so companies can track assets outside of a home location.

RFID tracking can help cut down the time warehouse personnel spend managing inventory.
RFID tracking can help cut down the time warehouse personnel spend managing inventory.

RFID systems are highly customizable for a company’s operations. The two most common system types are active and passive. In an active system, each RFID tag has a small battery that allows the tag to transmit information to the home base. Companies can glean information at any time, and often use these tags for wireless operations. Most active tags have a limited range, however; 100 feet may be the maximum distance to transmit signals from the tag. A passive system does not include batteries in the RFID asset tracking tags. Once the tags come near the receiver or home base, the tag will activate and transmit information relating to the asset for tracking purposes.

These systems may also have a web-based receiver system or allow for the use of a custom hand-held computer tracker. Companies with extensive assets in multiple locations may benefit from a hand-held device, as an employee can walk around company facilities and pick up the information from tags on different types of assets. A passive system may also work best in this case, as the tags are cheaper and not as labor intensive in terms of replacing, especially for batteries.

Another benefit of RFID asset tracking is the ability to detect when assets are leaving areas that they should not. Not only does this prevent employees from stealing assets, but it can also prevent the misuse of assets by employees. This is particularly true in terms of computer assets. Companies typically do not want employees to use computers, servers or other hardware in multiple locations. Therefore, installing an RFID asset tracking system will make owners and managers aware when an item leaves its secured area.

Disadvantages do exist with an RFID system. They are often costly to implement and need constant maintenance. The tags may also become outdated and require the company to upgrade the system. This represents an additional but necessary expense for the company. Employees may also be able to manipulate the system by removing tags or placing them on other items, creating confusion for tracking assets.

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