Before we answer the question of What is driving the need for RFID Asset Tracking – we should give you some quick background information on RFID Technology and how it works. Or if you prefer click here for our video.
A Brief Background on RFID
One of the most important building blocks of RFID technology is the tag. Every asset that needs to be identified with RFID must have a unique tag present. The tag will get stimulated by the reader. Once the energy from the reader excites the tag, the tag responds with its unique tag ID.
One of the major differentiators that RFID has over a conventional barcode system is that the tag can be read without a direct line of sight. In comparison, a barcode scanner needs to “read” each individual barcode – meaning that it needs to physically be placed in sight of the barcode – in order to capture the data. An RFID scanner can allow you to capture many RFID tags with a single pull of the trigger. As the scanner emits the radio frequency, it can “read” any tag in range. This allows RFID to perform inventories and to track assets at a much faster rate.
This ability to capture data without a direct line of sight becomes even more beneficial when you need to inventory hidden or embedded items. RFID allows you to scan tags that are inside of boxes, containers or are simply on a high shelf that is difficult to reach. If you’re working in an environment where items require that you to open-up a container to find the barcode – or even worse – require that you take apart an assembly to find a subcomponent inside of a larger assembly this feature becomes a game changer.
There are two major types of RFID readers — mobile and fixed. A fixed reader can be mounted over an area such as a doorway (think of an entry or an exit) or a loading bay. Fixed readers provide a choke point or a gateway where every item that has been tagged with an RFID chip will be captured. On the other hand, a mobile reader allows portability to move throughout a facility and provides you with the flexibility to focus on particular areas that need attention.
Passive Tags Vs. Active Tags
There are a few different types of RFID tag technologies; but, we can put them into two major categories.
Active RFID technology uses battery powered tags to continuously broadcast their signal. Often the signal will be broadcast very rapidly providing near “real-time” tracking. Active tags have the ability to transmit further than passive tags giving them a much longer read range. But, they also require long‑term maintenance to ensure proper functionality. In short, there are some distinct advantages to Active RFID systems; but, there’s more cost and infrastructure involved.
Passive RFID tags do not have an internal power source. Instead they rely on the electromagnetic energy transmitted by the RFID reader that excites the passive tag which returns a signal back to the reader. The lower price point for passive tags make the passive RFID systems very attractive for many applications.
At A2B Tracking we have embraced a passive RFID approach that we feel is the more economical and a more effective way to implement RFID in the UC! Web platform which is A2B Tracking’s proprietary cloud-based asset management system.
What’s Driving the Need for RFID?
1. Improved asset visibility
RFID allows you to locate assets and perform complete inventories in much less time. A major benefit of this faster capability is that it facilitates more frequent inventories which dramatically improves asset visibility. In fast-moving and dynamic warehouse or tool crib situations, manual or even barcode tracking systems can not move fast enough to keep up with the natural flow of inventory. In situations like this, an RFID system can capture data much more frequently and efficiently than other systems improving visibility and accuracy.
2. Hands‑free automated tracking
Fixed RFID readers provide the ability to capture data automatically. Creating portals, gateways or choke-points which force the assets past these fixed readers creates a secure area and ensures hands-free automated data capture each and every time that they enter or exit.
3. Reporting and audit readiness
Being able to access historical data that shows asset location is vital to your audit readiness plan. The ability to automatically track the movement of your asset from one location to another is a cornerstone element of an RFID system. This kind of asset visibility and reporting capabilities makes preparing for an audit much easier.
4. Assets “last known location”
When an item comes up missing, the ability to go back to its “last known location” is a common practice. As any warehouse manager will tell you, the more frequently an inventory is performed the more likely that last known location is correct. RFID provides faster and therefore more frequent inventories creating more accurate asset location data.
5. Rapid, accurate inventories
As stated throughout this blog – RFID technology allows for faster data capture than barcode systems. Because of this faster read rate it is much easier and more feasible to create complete inventories on a much more frequent basis. RFID systems provide for automatic reads at an increased frequency providing the user with a much higher level of accuracy.
Organizations that need improved asset visibility and increased audit readiness should consider utilizing an RFID asset tracking system. A2B Tracking’s software platform UC! Web can help your organization take advantage of RFID and leverage this modern technology to your advantage. To learn more about UC! Web feel free to download our brochure.
To take a deeper dive and learn more about what is driving the need for RFID Asset Tracking and the role that it plays in our flagship software platform UC! Web watch this video segment taken from our recent webinar: The Power of UC! Web with RFID Asset Tracking.