Updated: Jan 22
Asset tracking software for commercial use has witnessed a significant increase in the last few decades, which is unsurprising. After all, relying on pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets to manage, monitor, and track physical assets – such as IT equipment, trucks, portable tools, machinery, inventories, or even workers – is a suboptimal approach for reducing errors.
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) has become a must-have tracking tool for organisations that rely heavily on their assets, thanks to the technological growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). The capacity to connect physical assets to data-collecting tools such as Asset Tracking Software has proven nothing short of revolutionary, from tracking airline bags to increasing security in retail outlets.
Radio-Frequency Identification, or RFID, is a technology that, despite its long history, has come to play a significant part in asset-tracking software. The global use of asset monitoring technologies has peaked in the recent 20 years across the commercial world. Manufacturing, Logistics, Retail, and Healthcare are leading the way.
RFID asset tracking has proven to be a 'go-to' technology for companies striving to manage their revenue-critical assets. It makes sense because it reduces labour time and allows real-time location tracking.
But what exactly is RFID, why has it become so important in physical asset management, and what else should businesses know about this technology?
What is RFID?
As a company that depends on the availability of high-value assets to generate income, you realise the significance of asset tracking and good inventory management. Whether it's inventory, tools, IT equipment, cars, or even personnel.
Although there are numerous alternatives for simplifying the process of monitoring and tracking assets, there is one tracking technology that provides perfect efficiency at the lowest possible cost: RFID. RFID has gradually become much more commonly accepted for the tracking of physical 'things' as it has matured over the succeeding decades.
RFID asset tracking is a method of automating the management and location of physical assets. It entails loading data onto an RFID tag and attaching it to a relevant object. The data can include information about the asset's name, condition, cost, and location, among other things.
An RFID tag emits pulsing radio waves that an RFID reader uses to read the data stored on the tag. This data can then be compiled in an asset tracking system, which enables data monitoring and action.
The capacity to automate your tracking and monitoring operations seeks to eliminate the very error-prone methods of pen-and-paper and excel spreadsheets. Among the additional advantages are:
Keeping track of several assets at the same time
removing all human intervention
Real-time data collection
Enhancing asset visibility
locating missing or lost goods
Inventory correctness should be maximised.
How does RFID asset tracking work?
The fundamental principles behind RFID asset monitoring are reasonably constant across a wide range of applications. The basic concepts of how an RFID tracking system works are quite similar whether it is used in agriculture to track livestock or in a warehouse to monitor a manufacturer's supply chain. First, you'll need the right tools:
RFID Tags (Passive, Active, or Semi-Passive)
A type of antenna
A computer database with Asset Tracking Software
Data is essentially saved on an RFID tag with a unique Electronic Product Code (EPC), which is affixed to an asset. An antenna detects the signal of a nearby RFID tag and gets the tag's stored data before sending it to an RFID reader.
The RFID reader, which is wirelessly connected to the antenna, then sends this data to an asset-tracking database, where it may be saved and analysed.
The initial step is pretty simple, depending on how you choose to deploy your RFID asset monitoring system. However, there are a variety of considerations to consider while selecting the correct hardware.
RFID tags are classified into three types: active, passive, and semi-passive. Each tag works differently and might help or impede your tracking procedures.
Active RFID Tags
Are battery-powered tags that send a signal continually? Commonly used in real-time asset tracking operations such as vehicle tracking and tolling. Active RFID tags have a signal range of up to 150 metres depending on the frequency of the tag. In general, they are more expensive than passive RFID tags.
RFID Passive Tags
It is powered by an RFID reader or antenna and has no internal power source. Inventory tracking, supply chain management, and access control are all common applications. Active RFID tags have a lower signal range. It's small and light. Active RFID tags have a shorter life expectancy. A low-cost option, with average prices ranging from $0.02 to $0.08 per tag.
Semi-Passive RFID Tags
It has an internal battery, an antenna, and an RFID chip. When compared to an Active RFID tag, it has a limited signal range. The installation of a battery enables the inclusion of additional functionalities such as real-time tracking and sensors. When used in close proximity to an RFID reader. Temperature-controlled transit is a common application for environmental and condition monitoring.
The frequency output of RFID tags is another issue to consider when designing an RFID asset monitoring system. Because frequency output affects the size, cost, and communication quality of tags and readers, it's critical to understand which is optimal for your tracking needs.
They have a frequency range of 125-134 kHz. Because of its long wavelength, signals can penetrate solid materials and high water content more effectively. Has a signal range of up to 10cm in most cases.
The frequency of operation is 13.65 MHz. It is effective at penetrating metal items and has medium-to-high water content. The signal range is limited to one metre in most cases. Small assets and inventories are frequently tracked using this method.
It operates at 433 and 860-960 MHz frequencies. It has a longer read range of up to 150 metres. Faster data transfer rates than low-frequency and high-frequency RFID tags. Signals are unlikely to flow through metal or water at shorter wavelengths. It is commonly used to communicate data on several assets at the same time at high data transfer speeds.
What value does RFID bring to Track Assets?
The use of RFID technology for asset tracking has been proven to provide a variety of benefits for asset-heavy organisations.
These advantages include significant cost and labour savings as a result of the automation of procedures such as asset monitoring and data collection. An RFID asset tracking system necessitates far less human intervention.
Staff can effortlessly scan one or more asset tags using a portable RFID reader embedded into a mobile PC without needing to view the tags physically. Employees would have to point a barcode scanner directly at the tag in order to achieve an accurate scan with typical barcode labelling. In some cases, crawling under desks, behind server racks, or climbing ladders to scan hard-to-reach assets would be required. RFID readers can be several feet away and still provide an accurate scan. In a matter of seconds, one employee might scan several dozen assets in a room.
RFID tags with a bigger onboard memory capacity can potentially store additional asset information. For applications in distant places where connecting to a back-end application or database may be difficult, the tag itself can contain information about maintenance activities or sensor data that a field technician using a mobile computer can read and write to.
Although barcode or QR code labels can be used for asset tracking and are a more efficient alternative to manually searching for serial numbers, an RFID asset tracking system has several advantages over barcoding. These are some examples:
Reading many tags at the same time without requiring a direct line of sight between the tags and the scanner. In a handful of minutes, one employee could inventory an entire room's worth of equipment.
Critical service information can be stored on assets, allowing for more accurate asset life cycle management.
RFID tags can be used with sensors and GPS technology to offer asset condition data as well as position data.
By combining the solution with a wireless LAN, assets may be identified and located remotely in seconds.
Inventory times can be cut down from days to hours.
Asset security can be enhanced by providing real-time notifications and alarms when assets are moved to unapproved locations or removed from premises.
Increased productivity since assets can be found nearly instantly, and most asset management chores can be made more effective with RFID.
It doesn't have to be a logistical headache to track a big number of assets. RFID-enabled asset tracking provides a comprehensive view of your asset fleet without the costly and time-consuming processes involved in manually maintaining equipment.
Advantages of RFID Asset Tracking
RFID technology has several advantages over traditional asset-tracking technologies. Here are some of the most significant benefits of RFID asset tracking:
Data Reports Fast and precisely
RFID tags are the most effective approach to obtaining accurate inventory and asset information in real-time. This technology can offer regular location updates without the need to manually scan a barcode, reducing the possibility of human mistakes. It can also transmit immediate alerts in the event of a problem, such as high humidity.
Lowers Theft and Loss
RFID enables businesses to quickly track their assets at all supply chain stages. This significantly decreases the possibility of error, loss, or theft. Companies may save thousands of dollars by preventing these concerns with an RFID system. They will also spend less time looking for lost or stolen items, which will save on labour costs.
It is tough to manage assets that are not visible. RFID enables personnel to precisely locate every single item in a facility, even those that are out of reach or out of sight. This has the potential to greatly enhance the organisation and streamline the supply chain.
RFID saves employees time since it eliminates the need for them to manually track assets. Workers can focus their energies on other vital duties instead of spending all of their time on tiresome tasks like scanning barcodes or searching for missing things. This boosts workplace productivity and efficiency.
Let’s Wrap up
An RFID asset tracking system is a valuable tool to monitor assets and minimise losses in any industry. Implementing an RFID system is a significant undertaking, but the returns are well worth the effort. As technology advances, an increasing number of firms will adopt RFID tracking to safeguard their assets, organise their facilities, and boost efficiency.
DXSolution's ability to give visibility, range and customization goes beyond tracking. Talk to us about how we can help with your asset tracking and visibility needs. Connect with us, for a free consultation. You can follow our LinkedIn page and our hashtag - #dxsolutionadvisor, on LinkedIn.