Keeping track of changes in the security or logistics industry can be tricky. With the speed technology moves and the updates to the industry as a whole you can be left behind if you are not careful.
You are likely to have come into contact with some form of Radio Frequency systems, especially in the last couple of years, but you may not know exactly what they are.
Whether they are part of an access control system, a contactless payment method, or a way of tracking assets.
In this crash course we will be looking at RFID Asset Management, what it is, the benefits of these systems, how they differ from similar options, and the industries who can use them.
In short, we'll cover:
- RFID Asset Management Basics
- Features of RFID Asset Management
- How to Work RFID Asset Management
- NFC Reader Benefits
- Industries That Can Use RFID Asset Management
- NFC Reader Summary
What is RFID Asset Management?
With the huge rise in reliance on more useful data and information, the way we interact with the world is changing dramatically.
One of the broad developments is the overarching term known as the Internet of Things (IoT) which basically is the linking of different systems and data via the internet.
The goal of IoT is to simplify and improve the way we do business and approach other facets of our daily lives.
Out of this concept came ideas like RFID Asset Management. Firstly, let us break down this term. RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is a form of short range data transfer between a device and a reader (more on that in the next section).
Asset Management, in this context, is basically the way of keeping track of items using digital systems.
So, putting these two terms together we get RFID Asset Management, a digital way to improve your logistics and save time whilst increasing data tracking and traceability.
Key Components of RFID Asset Management Systems
In this section, we are going to quickly look at the key components that make up RFID Asset Management Systems.
RFID Tags - this is what is attached or embedded in the asset and is the data about the item. The tag transmits the stored information via the antenna. These can be either a visible tag, similar to a barcode, or an embedded set of data.
Tag Types - there are two major types, active and passive, the difference is the way they communicate with the reader. A passive tag only activates when scanned, whereas an active tag has a battery so is trackable around the clock without the need for a scan.
RFID Reader - wirelessly reads the information provided by the antenna about the tag (asset). This is typically a very short range scan but different types vary in distance from centimeters to meters.
Database - where the asset tracking and management information is stored and accessed. All the data will be sent to this RFID database which can be easily viewed and overseen.
Antenna - the data from the tag is transmitted to the antenna which, in turn, passes on the information to the RFID reader when it is scanned. This is within an RFID device and does not typically mean a physical antenna in the traditional sense.
How Does RFID Asset Management Work?
As we have looked at in the above section there are a few parts that make the RFID Asset Management System work, let us break it down into simple steps.
Step 1 - Devices, assets or items are tagged
The assets that a company wants to track are given their unique RFID identifiers, also known as Electronic Product Codes (EPC) and entered within the database.
Think of these like a form of barcode that gives information on the item, for example the tag might say that a shirt is a size medium, blue, there are 47 in stock and currently in a warehouse in London.
There are a wide range of assets that can be tracked from high value items to FMCGs. As the value increases, the importance of using asset tracking is heightened. Despite this, any value of an item can benefit from being tracked.
Step 2 - Assets are Tracked
Once the Electronic Product Codes are assigned the assets can be tracked. As we alluded to before, this can happen in two ways via either active or passive tags.
If active tags are used, the assets are tracked around the clock. Whereas, if passive tags are used, you will be able to track them when they are scanned.
To put this into context, if you are getting a parcel, you will get tracking information when it arrives at a sorting centre or is scanned on delivery.
Step 3 - The Database Updates
With each additional asset tracked or movement the database will update to give real time tracking for the user. This can be helpful from an internal perspective, for customers and for the end users too.
Being able to quickly and easily manage your assets via an up to date system is just a couple of the overall benefits of utilising an RFID Asset Management System.
Step 4 - Manage Your Assets Quickly
Once the system is up and running, tasks that would take a long time have been nearly eliminated, which helps the system pay for itself in work hours saved.
Let us contextualise this example, if a retail worker was to manually check or scan all the items in a stock room or in a delivery it could take all day. Whereas with an RFID system a room or delivery can be scanned within minutes.
What are the Benefits of RFID Asset Management?
Radio Frequency Identification systems can be utilised in a wide variety of businesses. This means that their benefits can differ from company to company.
With this being said, we will be looking at some of the major benefits of RFID asset management that can be applied to a broad mix of businesses and industries.
Being able to track the information on your assets at any moment in real-time gives a whole host of benefits to both you and your customers. Utilising the memory chips within your RFID tagged items you can have up to date information around the clock.
Removing the guesswork and eliminating grey areas from your logistics is a huge benefit to implementing RFID tags in your supply chain. Regardless of how your business operates or if your B2B or B2C, you will benefit from a smoother logistical chain.
Multiple Items Scanned Simultaneously
To put this into context, when a business uses barcodes, they often have to be scanned manually. This can create a plethora of issues from human error to wasted employee time, to late or slow shipments.
When you know where your assets are you have greater control over reducing threats such as theft. This can be both internal and external theft. If your employees know that items are tracked then there is much less likelihood of shrinkage.
Trackable & Traceable
Having a system that can oversee and manage where fast quantities of stock or assets are at any one time sheds light on information that was previously lacking. There are a wide array of benefits that stem from this, such as saved time and effort.
Easier to Manage
From a user perspective, the system is much easier to implement and use than more traditional methods. It is designed to be user friendly and create a simple management system for countless items and assets.
Reduced Reliance on Manual Ops
Having a system that can automatically and quickly scan and track items reduces relying on manual user entered data. This eliminates both the arduous task of entering the information and also the potential for miscounts or internal theft.
What Industries Can Benefit From RFID Asset Management?
Although the concept of RFID asset management is fairly universally used, there are certainly some industries that can benefit more from its implementation.
Below, we are going to look at a short list of industries that can, and do, use RFID asset management to improve their operations and business processes.
This is not a full list, but will hopefully have given you a good idea of the versatility of these systems.
- Delivery Companies
- Schools and Universities
- Hotels and Property Management
- Online Businesses
RFID Asset Management Industry
At this point you should have more of an understanding of how radio frequency identification asset management works and how it can be implemented into a business.
We are seeing the increase of these types of digital and trackable methods in all facets of life and of business. Knowing the core concepts can help you massively and give you a good idea of whether or not a system or process is right for you.
Here at Nortech, we try to simplify the overcomplicated world of security systems, access control, RFID and more. We often release helpful security guides and blogs to break down more complex topics.