Asset Tracking System | Business Efficiency Tips

by : Thomas Pretty

A popular technology now being utilised in the asset and package tracking industry if RFID or radio frequency identification. Generally these RFID asset tracking systems fall into two distinct groups, either passive or active. The passive RFID asset tracking systems are widely regarded as the new generation thanks to the technology they utilise, however in recent years further development of the active RFID systems has meant that they now offer a stark alternative to business owners.

Of these active asset tracking systems, they can once again be divided along two major lines. Firstly there are those systems that use their own network in order to achieve tracking of assets or items. The network is predominantly made up from technologies such as readers, antennas and sensors that operate within a facility to track items and assets.

Secondly, it is also an option to install a tracking system that will utilise the existing technologies and infrastructure. This can be seen as the more affordable option as the system will not have to have its own readers and antennas installed in order to track an asset. A perfect way to implement this technology is to utilise the existing WiFi network. For example, in a factory the access points to the WiFi network can easily act as readers granting an all encompassing solution.

Active RFID works by placing tags on items that you may wish to track. These tracking tags can be placed on items or people and through a network of sensors it is possible to triangulate their position in any given area. Through a user interface, it is possible to see the position of any asset. The interface is usually presented as a floor plan or map of the facility. This type of asset tracking system can be an ideal solution in say, a hospital. If a medical professional wants to know the location of a particular piece of equipment it is possible through the system to find it quickly by simply typing in the serial number of the asset.

Precision is a major concern when thinking of installing an asset tracking system, not all applications will require great levels of accuracy while others will need to know the location of items exactly. The industry terms the less precise systems as 'general location' and can be used when tracking large items such as pieces of machinery. By giving the locater an idea of the location so they can have line of sight with the item is sometimes all the system will need to do. Hospitals however will most probably want a more precise option, for instance, the ability to know the exact whereabouts of a patient can be extremely useful, especially in emergency situations. Thankfully RFID systems can accommodate nearly all levels of accuracy.

Companies are implementing asset tracking technologies for a number of reasons; the most common reason is to increase efficiency and productivity by eliminating the time it takes to find items. In general, RFID is being employed in spaces that at busy times can be pretty hectic; subsequently having a method of finding not only items but also co-workers can be invaluable. By cutting the time workers spend either looking for each other or items, the efficiency of the business can be easily improved. Another benefit is that with the knowledge of asset locations, it is easier to use those assets to the best of their ability, such as pieces of machinery.

So if you are thinking of installing such an asset tracking system it is important to remember two factors. Firstly is to weigh the cost against the benefits and secondly is to find a solution that can be upgraded at little or no extra cost. The technology is rapidly improving; hence a system that can move with the times is advisable. If you feel your business could benefit from a system, take time to study the options and find a solution that meets the requirements of your operation, you will soon experience an increase in efficiency and productivity.