The DoD has worked diligently in recent years to provide our soldiers with the best technology and computer equipment to help the armed forces perform their jobs better and more efficiently. Many believe that the development of these digital communication, navigation and communication systems have been instrumental to the success of the modern US military.
Of course the downside is that all of this emphasis on digital IT equipment comes at a cost. IT assets obviously incur an upfront cost that will hit the budgets; but, maybe more importantly are the ongoing logistical costs. US Congress mandates that the DoD maintain accountability on each and every asset in their possession. Tracking the location and movement of all of the computer equipment in any one of the branches of the military (let alone the entire armed services and the organizations that serve them) is a massive undertaking.
Military IT equipment
To further compound and complicate this issue, many of these computers and IT assets contain highly sensitive data and need to be stored in secure areas. Often this same digital equipment needs to be mission-ready — which includes being fully charged, operable, compatible and in a portable storage container for transport ready to go at a moment’s notice. Maintaining frequent and regular accountability of the data and the storage devices along with managing the location and the readiness of this equipment is a major security issue along with being a formidable logistical challenge.
Many of the IT systems that the military uses rely on interoperability and thus there are computers with very specific configurations that are set to integrate with other devices. This level of system integration can complicate the process and increase the amount of labor required to perform an inventory.
Digital assets are often embedded in larger assemblies and many times end up being very difficult to gain access to. Unfortunately, even though they are a component or a subcomponent, of a larger system they still need to be accounted for. There is also a concern, in some circles, for authenticating the integrity of the hardware and to prevent the infiltration of counterfeit computer components into the supply chain.
Logistical Challenges with Military IT Equipment
The DoD has an enormous amount of computers and digital equipment that they need to maintain accountability for. Performing manual inventories on equipment at this scale of magnitude is difficult, time consuming and risky. Recording serial numbers with a clipboard or even with a spreadsheet is error-prone and very labor intensive. Add to this, the challenge that some of the assets needing accountability are embedded in a larger assembly or are in a storage container that needs to be opened — make a challenging process even more difficult. In short, using a manual method to track IT assets is asking for trouble.
The US military does not have the luxury to perform manual inventories on their digital equipment — there is just too many items and not enough time. An organization that is the size of the Department of Defense needs to be able to automate their IT asset management process in order to maintain accountability, track each individual asset and fulfill the required annual audits.
Auto-ID Asset Tracking Technology
The two most common Auto-ID Asset Tracking Systems in place today utilize either barcodes or the use of radio frequency identification technology (or RFID). Barcodes have been accepted as an asset tracking best practice for many years and organizations around the world, including the US military, have relied upon its effectiveness. RFID has also been around for many years but is just recently gaining greater acceptance and adoption as the costs reduce and the technology performance improves. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses.
To learn how RFID can provide immediate benefits and superior performance when tracking and managing military IT equipment read our latest white paper: RFID Tracking for Military IT Assets. We will take you through the process of why RFID is the preferred auto-ID technology for IT equipment and provide you with the tactics you need to be able to keep the system implementation costs manageable. Download and read this free white paper today.