RFID Asset Tag Expert Q&A

2018-12-12T11:16:52+00:00December 12th, 2018|Asset Tracking Best Practices, News|

RFID is a seemingly-magic technology that solves all your asset tracking problems. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all RFID solution. It’s important to be aware of its many nuances. Below you’ll find some of the most common questions we field from customers who are exploring RFID technology.

Q: Can we re-use our existing RFID tags?

A. Probably.

It depends on how they’ve been encoded. If your previous RFID consulting company was smart, they encoded the tags to have only a unique key record identifier. In any case, you’ll need to understand how the tags were encoded and what data they contain. Your tracking software should be able to interpret those tag values and use them.

Q: How should we encode our RFID tags?

A. Literally or ASCII-encoded.

RFID chips must be encoded using HEX characters.  That said, you have two options for how to use HEX to store your tag data.

  • Literal – The encoding format can be literal, which means to use only hex characters in your asset tag values. (A-F, 0-9).  As long as you’re okay with being limited to these characters, this is the most flexible encoding that should work with any RFID software.
  • ASCII encoded – Convert each character into its ASCII code, then convert each ASCII code into Hex.  Encoded those values on your RFID tag. This is more complicated as you must use software (like AssetTrack) that can read this encoding, but it allows you to use any character you want in your asset tag.

Q:What information should be encode into our RFID tags?

A: Only a unique key. 

Just like barcodes, only encode a record unique identifier like an Asset Tag. Don’t encode information other than a key into your tag. See our blog post Don’t Make Your Barcodes Tiny Databases for reasons why. The same concept applies to RFID.

Q: What kind of naming convention should we use for our RFID asset tag values?

A: The naming convention you use for asset tag values should be the same for barcode and RFID.

There is no need to create different schemes for each. You want one asset tag value in your database. Having two keys – or asset tag numbers – for the same asset will inevitably create confusion and result in unforeseen errors.

We recommend using Asset Tag values such as:

A00001
A00002
A00003
A00004

An asset’s identifier should be globally unique. Old numbers should not be reused. Whatever numbering scheme you choose must ensure global uniqueness over time.

We’ve seen interest in embedding business meaning into barcode values such as adding cost centers, asset types or other information into the numbering scheme. This may seem like a good idea, as it gives information about the asset just by reading the number, but it’s not a best practice.

Q: Do you recommend barcode/RFID hybrid chips?

A: Yes. We recommend hybrid chips that have the same RFID value and barcode value in/on the tag.

It does costs slightly more, but this option allows for great flexibility long term, allowing you to scan the same tag using RFID or barcode. In this scenario you’d encode A0001 into the RFID chip and print an A0001 barcode on the outside.

Next Steps: If you’re introducing or significantly enhancing your IT Asset Management processes, and barcode or RFID labels are part of the discussion, make sure you’ve reviewed our free hardware asset tagging guide.

The Asset Tagging Guide provides expertise in labeling IT assets for effective hardware asset tracking using barcode & RFID technology. It should be read by anyone who is considering tagging IT assets and thoroughly covers the following topics:

• Pros and cons of undertaking a new asset tagging effort
• Material/cost choices for the asset tag labels themselves
• Designing the numbering scheme for the labels
• Label recommendations
• Label placement

About Asset Management International

Established in 2003, Asset Management International (AMI) provides barcode and RFID asset tracking solutions that help companies receive, track, audit, and report on assets to make informed decisions with confidence. AMI’s flagship product, AssetTrack, uses cutting-edge data capture and reconciliation technology to maintain accurate asset data organization-wide. AssetTrack is used as a stand-alone comprehensive IT asset management solution as well as alongside industry leading vendors including ServiceNow, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Computer Associates. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, AMI serves enterprise clients throughout the world including United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. Visit www.amitracks.com for more information.

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