RFID (or Radio Frequency Identification) is an auto-ID technology that has been used to track inventory and locate items for years. Recently, RFID has been gaining more and more attention as the costs have come down and the technology has improved. In this blogpost, I would like to explore the benefits of tracking IT assets with RFID technology.
How RFID Works
Similar to Barcode technology, RFID uses a unique tag (or a “license plate”) which is associated with a unique asset — however, assets can be scanned at a much faster pace as the scanner does not need a line of sight to the asset tag. With an RFID asset tracking system, you don’t need to “touch” each item individually. You can rapidly inventory high volumes of assets within minutes…
RFID enables the use of mobile computers to locate missing assets with Smartphones coupled with mobile RFID readers. Mobile RFID allows a user to walk through an area and quickly capture all of the RFID tags within read-range. A painfully slow process of physically searching for an asset can be reduced to finding that asset within minutes using a mobile RFID system.
Fixed RFID readers can also provide significant visibility to the movement or current location of IT assets within a facility. As assets move, readers that are mounted in areas such as a doorway or dock door will capture the RFID asset tag of the item in-transit and record that items date and time of movement while recording location change. This is referred to as the capture of an assets’ last known location.
Compare this to barcode asset tracking for a moment. If you were to attempt to take an inventory, for example, of an office space that contained multiple rooms of computers and digital equipment. Using a barcode system for this inventory you would need to find every barcode on each piece of digital equipment. The barcode capture process would require that you methodically go through your rooms and handle each unique item so that the barcode reader had a direct line of sight with each barcode and scan them one at a time.
If that same office space was utilizing an RFID tracking system, the employee could have walked through each room and within a matter of minutes captured a complete inventory.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how RFID technology works – here are our top benefits of tracking IT assets with RFID.
1. Save Time with RFID
Even if we only consider the time that it takes a worker to open-up a cardboard box and record an item. That small amount of time over enough repetitions adds up. Now locate that cardboard box in a hard-to-reach spot where the worker has to get to the box and move it down to a place where he can open it up. This is when an RFID system can really save an organization an enormous amount of time and labor.
Another additional benefit of RFID comes into play when you are looking for lost items, for example on a variance report when you’re trying to reconcile against the expected inventory. An RFID system will be able to show you all of the RFID tags in a particular area –whether you expect to see them there or not -often uncovering items that have gone missing. In a well-designed scenario along with proper implementation RFID has the potential to provide instant accountability with the pull of a trigger.
2. Improve Security with RFID
There are common situations where inventory needs to be accounted for on a regular basis. Of course there are the annual and semi-annual inventories; but, there are also inventories that need to have full accountability on a daily basis or at every shift change and in certain situations there is a desire for real-time accountability. Think of a high security IT data center.
By utilizing RFID choke points, where all items are required to pass through a portal window, mounted readers and antennas can capture items as they enter or return through this gateway. This kind of a “lock-down” scenario records the movement and location of items as they move in and out of the secure area (while creating a very valuable audit trail) — but also, allows for a much faster and more efficient process to account for the current inventory that is on-hand.
3. Improve Accuracy with RFID
RFID can improve accuracy by adding a higher level of detailed asset tracking information. Because RFID has the ability to capture asset information so rapidly, systems can be put into place to record more detailed and frequent information. Because RFID allows for faster data sharing and decreases data processing – performing an inventory is more efficient and easier to share.
RFID Systems can also be set up to manage and monitor configuration controls. The actual configuration of an embedded component in a digital asset can be checked against the expected configuration using RFID without having to physically touch or open any of the assembly.
In our most recent white paper we explain further why RFID provides immediate benefits and superior performance when tracking and managing IT equipment. Get a better understanding of how RFID systems work and how it can improve accuracy, security and save time for your organization.
Download and read our white paper now to learn more about the benefits of Tracking IT assets with RFID technology.