Asset Tracking FAQs

Asset Tracking FAQs

Answers to Your Asset Tracking Questions

Asset tracking technology has revolutionized the management of physical assets, streamlining operations across multiple industries with a variety of tools including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). These technologies not only simplify tasks that were once labor-intensive and costly but also continue to reveal new possibilities for efficiency and cost reduction. From manufacturing to healthcare, logistics to retail, and beyond, asset tracking systems enhance productivity and provide substantial savings. Our team of experts is here to help you navigate through the complexities of these technologies, answering your most frequently asked questions and showcasing the potential of modern location-tracking solutions.

(Click on a question to view the detailed answer.)

Q. What Is Asset Tracking?

A. Asset tracking is the method of tracking physical assets, either by scanning barcode labels attached to the assets or by using tags using GPS, RFID, or BLE technology that broadcast their location. This process helps organizations monitor the status, location, and availability of their assets in real time, facilitating better asset utilization and enhancing security against theft or loss.

Asset tracking systems range from simple barcode scanning used for inventory management to complex RFID systems designed to automatically track the movement of assets across large areas. These systems are critical for optimizing asset use, reducing operational costs, and improving service delivery in various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, and retail.

Q. How Does Asset Tracking Save Money?

A. Effective asset tracking is key to reducing operational costs. By deploying a customized asset tracking system, businesses can dramatically reduce the time and resources wasted on tracking down lost or misplaced items. Today’s sophisticated RFID systems enable real-time or near-real-time monitoring, greatly enhancing the efficiency of warehouse and inventory management. This not only accelerates production processes but also reduces costs by decreasing the likelihood of inventory overstock and minimizing the need for emergency reorders. Additionally, by streamlining the tracking of work-in-process, such systems can lessen the need to expedite customer orders, further reducing labor-intensive searches for assets or orders. These improvements in asset management lead to more streamlined operations and substantial cost savings.

Q. Which Industries Use RFID Tracking?

A. RFID solutions are invaluable across a wide range of sectors, optimizing operations and compliance. They enhance manufacturing workflows, streamline military and aerospace logistics, and ensure precise inventory management and asset tracking in hospitals, track consignment inventory for medical device manufacturers, assist in managing inventory and locating specific chemicals in laboratories, and more. Additionally, RFID technology is instrumental in improving the efficiency of warehousing, distribution, and construction operations.

Q. What Are Some Common Applications of RFID Asset Tracking for Manufacturing?

A. RFID technology significantly enhances operational efficiency across the manufacturing sector. It tracks work orders from inception through production to shipping, ensuring seamless progress to completion. Integrating both fixed position and handheld RFID readers, manufacturers can enhance asset visibility and prevent the loss of crucial items. Searching for a missing item is as simple as checking the last-observed location and then using a handheld reader to locate the misplaced tools or parts. The reader will emit a Geiger counter signal that beeps louder and faster as it approaches the targeted item. This capability transforms audits into simple procedures, providing visibility and improving inventory management within any manufacturing facility.

RFID’s versatility extends to tracking a variety of assets, including:

  • Manufacturing work-in-process
  • Tooling and parts
  • Chemical inventory management (including expiring chemicals)
  • IT assets
  • Annual and periodic inventory audits
  • And more

Q. What Are Some Common Inventory Management and Asset Tracking Applications in Healthcare and Hospitals?

A. In healthcare settings, automated data capture technologies such as RFID are revolutionizing how inventory is managed, delivering full ROI by optimizing inventory levels and ensuring full charge capture. By substantially reducing administrative hours, staff can refocus their efforts on patient care rather than inventory management. RFID technology supports supply chain excellence by eliminating shortages and preventing expiry issues in critical supplies, thus enhancing confidence in inventory accuracy and reducing excessive stock levels. Smart Cabinets simplify the management of medical devices for hospitals as well as consignment inventory, making it easier for medical device manufacturers to track consignment sales efficiently.

RFID tracking may also be used to track and locate important equipment like IV pumps, wheelchairs, and more. Today, emerging IoT, Bluetooth (BLE), IMDF, and other innovative solutions are helping hospitals to enhance nurse safety, automate workflow, and even optimize patient transport.

In the OR, hospitals and healthcare facilities may also benefit by using automated data capture solutions like the Snap&Go™. This unique system features an optical image recognition sensor for real-time data collection and billing of medical implants and consumables used in surgery with an insight-driven cloud platform. Not only does a solution like this improve charge capture, it also helps to mitigate the risks associated with expired or recalled devices while freeing up administrative tasks so the team can focus on patient caregiving.

Q. What Asset Tracking Technologies Are Recommended for Use in Dental Surgery Centers?

A. In dental sectors, RFID-enabled digital dental inventory management solutions, like RFID smart cabinets, make it easy to oversee a wide range of inventory types. The smart cabinets also help dental medical device manufacturers manage their device consignment sales effectively, and ensure accuracy and product availability within dental surgery centers.

Smart Cabinets Can Effectively Manage a Diverse Range of Inventory:

  • Dental implants
  • Orthodontic appliances
  • Restorative materials
  • Endodontic instruments
  • Prosthodontic devices
  • And more

Q. How Can RFID Technology Enhance Chemical Management in Laboratories?

A. RFID technology significantly improves the management of chemicals in laboratories by enabling the quick and accurate location of necessary items for testing and experiments. This capability not only reduces the costs associated with purchasing duplicate chemicals but also minimizes waste by preventing the use of expired substances, thereby streamlining laboratory operations and boosting cost efficiency.

Modern RFID chemical inventory management systems excel in their ability to dynamically integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and cloud-based platforms. This integration facilitates real-time updates and comprehensive visibility of inventory levels, ensuring that chemicals are used efficiently and sustainably. Moreover, the use of RFID technology supports better compliance with safety and regulatory requirements by maintaining accurate records of chemical usage and storage conditions. These advanced tracking capabilities enable laboratories to optimize resource allocation, enhance operational workflows, and improve overall safety and compliance.

Q. What Asset Tracking Technologies are Commonly Used in Aerospace and Military Applications?

A. In the aerospace and military sectors, asset tracking is critical for managing inventory, ensuring maintenance compliance, and enhancing operational security. A combination of advanced technologies including RFID, barcoding, and IUID is employed to meet these needs efficiently.

RFID technology is extensively used for its ability to provide real-time tracking of parts and equipment. This is especially critical in aerospace for tracking components throughout their lifecycle, from manufacturing to maintenance. RFID tags conform to ATA Spec2000, which sets standards for automated identification and data capture to improve productivity and safety in the aerospace industry.

Barcoding and smart scanners are also integral, offering proven solutions for inventory management and IUID validation. These tools ensure accurate data capture, important for maintaining the integrity of supply chains and operational processes. Smart scanners, equipped with BarCodeOS®, enhance the functionality of standard barcode readers by allowing dynamic switching between different application modes and improving data accuracy through advanced filtering and parsing capabilities.

Barcode cybersecurity is another vital aspect, as it protects against potential data breaches that could compromise military and aerospace operations. Our intelligent scanners include our patented BarCodeOS® Security Filter to prevent unauthorized data access and ensure compliance with stringent regulatory standards. This security filter avoids malicious barcode operating system commands that may be embedded in data matrix, QR, PDF417, and other symbologies.

IUID is a specific technology mandated by the Department of Defense for marking and tracking military assets. It provides a unique identifier for each item, facilitating better logistics support, lifecycle management, and cost tracking. IUID compliance is critical for ensuring that military equipment is tracked and managed with the highest level of accuracy and security. There are a range of technologies involved in providing efficient solutions for IUID compliance applications including intelligent barcode scanners, marking hardware/software, barcode validation and verification.

Q. How Do Asset Tracking Technologies Like RFID Enhance Inventory Management in the Retail Industry?

A. In the fast-paced retail sector, managing inventory efficiently is necessary for maximizing profitability and enhancing customer service. Asset tracking technologies, particularly RFID, play a pivotal role in revolutionizing retail operations by providing precise and real-time tracking of products as well as non-sale assets such as signage, point-of-sale graphics, and store fixtures.

RFID systems enable retailers to capture and track detailed asset information across the entire supply chain—from warehouse to sales floor—ensuring items are well-stocked and available when needed. This level of tracking helps prevent stock-outs and overstock situations, both of which can significantly impact retail operations. By automating data capture, RFID technology not only speeds up inventory processes but also provides valuable insights into asset utilization, turnover rates, and consumer behavior patterns.

Furthermore, integrating IoT RFID solutions and cloud-based software allows for seamless management of both inventory and fixed assets. Retailers can quickly locate essential marketing assets and furnishings, streamlining store setups and promotions. This integration also supports better merchandise management, reducing shrinkage and losses while increasing overall operational efficiency.

Q. How Do You Keep Track of IT Assets in a Company?

A. Effective IT asset tracking involves several key practices and tools designed to monitor, manage, and optimize the use of all IT-related equipment within an organization. Keeping track of IT assets is critical for maintaining operational efficiency and safeguarding a company’s technology investments.

Here Are Some Additional Considerations for Tracking IT Assets:

Utilize Cloud-Based Solutions:

Consider cloud-based IT asset management solutions for greater scalability, flexibility, and accessibility. Cloud solutions can provide enhanced data security, backup options, and remote access capabilities.

Thoroughly Evaluate Asset Tracking Software:

Implementing a proven IT asset tracking system is essential. The best solutions enable companies to keep a real-time inventory of their IT assets, including hardware, software, and associated peripherals. Asset tracking systems should provide detailed insights into asset performance, usage, and lifecycle.

Regular Audits Should Be Conducted And Automated Solutions, Like RFID Technology and Intelligent Scanners Can Ease the Burden of Labor:

Equip all IT assets with RFID tags or barcodes that can be scanned to record and track each asset’s location and status. This facilitates easier and faster audits, reduces the chances of theft, and helps in quick recovery of assets when needed. Conduct regular audits to ensure the data in your IT asset tracking system is accurate and up to date. Audits help to identify discrepancies, such as unrecorded assets or items no longer in use, which can then be corrected to maintain the integrity of the asset database.

Consider Integration with Other Systems:

Integrate IT asset tracking software with other systems to align IT with broader business processes, strategic insights, and enhance visibility across departments.

Q. What Asset Tracking Questions Should You Ask Yourself, When Considering Automation Technologies?

A. Implementing automation technologies for asset tracking requires thoughtful consideration to ensure that the solution fits your organization’s needs.

Here are essential questions to guide your decision-making process:

  • Usage Frequency: How frequently do you need to track or inventory your assets? Understanding this will help determine the scalability of the system required.
  • Inventory Size: How many assets need to be tracked? This will influence the scope and complexity of the technology solution needed.
  • Asset Value: What are your assets worth? Valuing your assets can help justify the investment in tracking technologies and prioritize which assets to track.
  • Asset Accessibility: How accessible are your assets for scanning or tagging? This affects the feasibility of deploying certain types of asset tracking technologies.
  • Asset Location: Where are your assets located? Knowing if your assets are centralized or spread across multiple locations will impact the tracking technology choice.
  • Asset Mobility: Do your assets stay in one place, or are they frequently moved? The mobility of assets can affect the type of tracking technology used, such as the need for real-time tracking systems.
  • Physical Characteristics of Assets: What are the physical dimensions of your assets and the space available for attaching tags? The size and shape of assets influence the type of tags or labels you can use.
  • Environmental Conditions: Are your assets subject to extreme conditions such as high temperatures or moisture? The environment in which your assets are stored or used will dictate the durability requirements of tags and devices.
  • Readability Requirements: Is there a need for both visual (human-readable) and electronic (machine-readable) tagging? This will determine if you require tags that support both identification methods.
  • Accuracy Requirements: How precise does the tracking need to be for operational success? Accuracy levels will guide the specification of technology and systems to deploy.

Q. Are Traditional RFID Technologies Still Viable?

A. Absolutely, passive RFID technology has significantly advanced and continues to be a cornerstone for asset tracking across various industries. Today’s passive RFID systems are adept at enhancing operational efficiencies and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

Modern passive RFID setups include both fixed-position and handheld readers that effectively streamline the tracking process. These devices utilize the last observed location to quickly locate missing assets, drastically reducing search time, and increasing productivity.

Many current tracking solutions also integrate handheld 2D data matrix barcode scanners and fixed-station 2D matrix verification systems, ensuring that all compliance barcodes are readable and registration-ready.

At ID Integration, we provide comprehensive systems that mark, scan, verify, and register items efficiently, keeping your operations compliant and streamlined. Our experienced consultants customize these systems to meet the specific needs of your industry, ensuring you achieve the best possible results with minimal investment. For more information on how our asset tracking solutions can optimize your operations and compliance strategies, call us for a no-obligation consultation at (425) 438-2533.

Q. What Do the Latest Innovations in RFID Offer?

A. RFID technology continues to evolve, with advancements extending its capabilities, improving read ranges, and reducing costs. Today’s RFID solutions offer versatile applications both indoors and outdoors, providing robust tracking capabilities even in remote locations where WiFi might be unavailable.

Modern passive RFID systems have significantly improved in efficiency, becoming a cost-effective solution for a wide range of industries.

These systems are perfect for tracking everything from small tools in a warehouse to large medical devices in hospitals, ensuring real-time visibility and operational control. The integration of passive RFID with other technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) further enhances this capability, enabling automated data capture that reduces manual entry and streamlines inventory management.

The IoT revolutionizes how assets are monitored by connecting RFID systems to a cloud-based platform. This integration facilitates seamless communication across devices, allowing for real-time analytics, comprehensive reports, and predictive maintenance alerts. Such connectivity not only increases the accuracy of asset tracking but also improves the overall efficiency of production processes and inventory management.

With the decreasing cost of RFID components and the expanding capabilities of RFID technology, organizations can now implement more sophisticated tracking systems that were once cost prohibitive.

These advancements make RFID an even more attractive option for companies looking to enhance their asset and inventory management strategies, prepare for audits, and maintain high standards of operational security and efficiency.

To discover how these state-of-the-art RFID and IoT solutions can transform your asset management approach, reach out to our RFID team. Let us show you how the latest innovations in RFID technology can streamline your operations and contribute to smart manufacturing and precise inventory control. Call us at (425) 438-2533.

Q. How Do Intelligent Scanners Provide a Competitive Edge In Asset Tracking?

A. BarCodeOS® enabled scanners leverage their internal processor and memory to analyze, filter, parse, validate, and format decoded data before it even reaches your PC. This preprocessing eliminates the need for costly middleware or additional hardware, offering a cost-effective solution that enhances data integrity and expedites workflows. Explore the modular applications of BarCodeOS® and see how they can extend the value and functionality of your barcode scanning systems.

Q. What Asset Tracking Technologies May Also Mitigate Cybersecurity Threats?

A. In today’s digital age, barcode security is a growing concern for many businesses. BarCodeOS® equipped scanners are designed to address these security vulnerabilities by offering advanced filtering and validation capabilities. Learn more about how BarCodeOS® can safeguard your scanning processes against potential threats by reading our white paper, ‘Is A Barcode Security Threat Looming In Your Company’s Future?

Q. How Does Changing from Metal to HDPE Shelving Impact RFID Effectiveness?

A. The material of storage shelving can significantly influence the performance of RFID systems. Metal shelving, while durable, often causes interference with RFID signals, which can lead to reduced read rates and tracking inaccuracies. Switching to High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) shelving is increasingly recommended because HDPE does not interfere with radio waves, allowing for more consistent and reliable RFID tag reading.

HDPE shelving enhances the effectiveness of RFID asset tracking systems by ensuring that the RFID readers can capture data from tags without signal reflection or absorption issues typically encountered with metal. This switch not only improves inventory accuracy but also optimizes the overall efficiency of asset management processes. By adopting HDPE shelving, organizations can overcome one of the common physical barriers to effective RFID implementation, leading to smoother operations and better asset visibility.

Q. What Are the Benefits of Integrating Asset Tracking Technologies Across Different Departments?

A. Integrating asset tracking technologies such as RFID and barcoding across different departments can significantly enhance operational efficiency and data accuracy within an organization. By providing real-time visibility of assets, these technologies ensure that all departments—from logistics and inventory to sales and customer service—have up-to-date information. This integration helps in reducing asset misplacement, speeding up processes, and improving decision-making. Additionally, it fosters better collaboration between departments, leading to a more cohesive and agile operational environment.

Q. How Do Advanced Tracking Technologies Optimize Warehouse Management?

A. Advanced tracking technologies, including wearable computers, handheld RFID readers, RFID-enabled devices, fixed RFID readers, RFID antennas, and comprehensive RFID infrastructure, are crucial for optimizing warehouse operations. Wearable computers and handheld RFID readers enhance mobility and efficiency, allowing staff to access and update inventory data on the go. Fixed RFID readers and robust RFID infrastructure automate tracking at critical points, such as dock doors, to streamline the flow of goods in and out of the facility. RFID antennas improve the accuracy and range of data capture, ensuring real-time visibility across the warehouse. Collectively, these technologies increase inventory accuracy, reduce manual labor costs, and enhance overall operational efficiency, leading to smarter, more responsive warehouse management.

Q. How Can I Learn More About Asset Tracking and RFID Before Getting Started?

A. Watch the replay of the recent CAMPS Innovation Forum for a helpful discussion, including Q&A about RFID technology with our President/CEO, Gary Moe. Our asset management team answers your basic questions about RFID on our RFID FAQs web page. Go there to learn about how RFID works, the difference between passive and active RFID tags, the typical read range of RFID systems, how to combine RFID systems with barcode tags, which RFID solution may best fit your business applications, and much more.
Look to ID Integration to also provide additional resources for your in-depth RFID research. Visit our blog as well as our Applications and Industry pages to find a range of helpful resources. Contact us at (425) 438-2533 to discuss your specific asset tracking or RFID application.

Q. Can I Combine Systems Without Running the Issue of Receiving Dissimilar Data?

A. Integrating different asset tracking technologies—such as barcoding, RFID, and software—into a cohesive system might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be a challenge. While each technology has its strengths, combining them can provide a comprehensive view of your assets throughout their lifecycle, from individual part registration to tracking movement on the warehouse floor. The key to successfully merging these technologies lies in not discarding your existing systems, such as barcode tracking, but instead enhancing them with RFID capabilities.

Partnering with an experienced systems integrator is helpful.

A skilled integrator can provide the necessary guidance and technical expertise to ensure seamless integration and interoperability between different data types.

By working with a systems integrator, you can create a unified solution that leverages the best features of each technology, maximizing data accuracy and operational efficiency. This holistic approach not only preserves your initial investments in existing systems but also enhances your asset management capabilities, leading to better inventory control, reduced loss, and improved overall efficiency.

Q. How Scalable Are Asset Tracking Systems for Businesses Experiencing Growth or Changes?

A. Scalability is a vital feature of any asset tracking system, especially for businesses that anticipate growth or need to adjust to dynamic market demands. Modern asset tracking solutions are designed to be highly scalable, accommodating increases in inventory, expanding operational areas, and integrating new types of assets as a company grows.

RFID systems are ideal for scaling due to their ability to handle large volumes of data and track numerous items simultaneously without significant increases in manual labor or operational disruption. As businesses expand, additional RFID tags and readers can be easily integrated into the existing system to cover new products and locations.

Moreover, cloud-based asset tracking platforms facilitate scalability by providing robust data storage and access capabilities. These platforms allow businesses to manage and analyze data from anywhere, accommodating new outlets, warehouses, or even temporary locations without the need for extensive infrastructure overhaul.

Additionally, these systems support the integration of various tracking technologies such as barcodes, IoT devices, GPS trackers, and vision sensors enabling a comprehensive asset management strategy that can evolve with the business. This flexibility ensures that the asset tracking system can continue to meet the business’s needs, providing consistent efficiency and accuracy regardless of the scale of operations.

Businesses considering asset tracking systems should evaluate their long-term goals and potential growth to ensure they select a solution that not only meets their current needs but can also scale effectively to support future expansion and complexity.

Q. How Do I Find Out Whether Asset Tracking Technology Will Fit My Business Needs, Without A Huge Financial Investment?

A. Determining if RFID asset tracking technology is right for your business need not be costly or complicated. At ID Integration, we recommend starting with a comprehensive site survey conducted by our experienced team. This approach allows us to assess your specific needs and operational environment directly.

During the site survey, our specialists will evaluate your current asset management processes and identify potential areas where RFID technology can enhance efficiency and accuracy. This tailored assessment ensures that any solution we propose is perfectly aligned with your business objectives and operational requirements, avoiding unnecessary expenses and disruptions.

Our goal is to provide you with a clear understanding of how asset tracking technology can be seamlessly integrated into your operations to improve both short-term functionality and long-term scalability. This service is designed to give you the insights needed to make an informed decision about adopting RFID technology without the initial high costs typically associated with trial and error methods.

Q. How Does Effective Asset Tracking Contribute to Environmental Sustainability in Operations?

A. Effective asset tracking helps businesses reduce waste by optimizing the use of resources and extending the lifespan of assets through better maintenance schedules. Precise tracking can lead to less overproduction, decrease the need for physical space, and lower energy consumption, aligning with sustainability goals.

Q. How Do Businesses Measure the ROI of Asset Tracking Systems?

A. Measuring the return on investment (ROI) for IoT/RFID asset tracking systems involves analyzing costs against the significant benefits they deliver over time. Initially, businesses must account for the total cost of ownership, which includes the installation, hardware, training, and any ongoing maintenance and subscription fees. The benefits, often more substantial, can include enhanced operational efficiency, better asset utilization, and significant reductions in labor costs due to automation.

Businesses also experience improved asset security, regulatory compliance, and customer satisfaction, which can lead to a competitive advantage. To quantify these advantages, companies should consider both direct financial gains, such as reduced asset loss and improved inventory turnover, and indirect benefits like customer loyalty and market reputation. Finally, assessing the timeline for expected returns is important, considering both the short-term impacts and the long-term strategic value of the investment.

Q. Why Is it Important to Work With Experienced System Integrators When Implementing Asset Tracking Solutions?

A. Working with experienced system integrators is critical when implementing asset tracking solutions because they bring specialized knowledge and expertise in assessing a company’s specific challenges across various technologies. System integrators excel in evaluating a company’s current infrastructure—including outdated legacy systems—and recommend solutions that not only integrate seamlessly but also enhance data collection and analysis capabilities.

Their ability to synchronize multiple software systems and hardware ensures that the solution not only addresses immediate operational needs but also sets a foundation for future advancements towards Industry 4.0 standards. By leveraging the skills of seasoned integrators, businesses can transform their asset tracking systems into intelligent, actionable tools that drive significant long-term improvement and help achieve transformative goals.

Our team is on hand to answer more of your asset tracking FAQ and point you to the best solutions to maximize efficiency and minimize your investment. Contact us to get started with a needs assessment at (425) 438-2533.