A Change of Mind Regarding Active RFID

Although now I’m a bit chagrined to admit it, just seven months ago I presented a webinar (Finding the ROI Sweet Spot with RFID), a significant part of which promoted the position that, while active RFID asset tracking afforded terrific features, the initial cost of deploying such a system – at least down to the rack level – meant unacceptably high upfront costs and too slow a return on investment.

That was then…etc.

Shortly after distributing that webinar, I attended the IAITAM Conference in Palm Springs. There, I had the pleasure of seeing a very impressive presentation put on jointly by IBM and a company I had been keeping an eye on for some time:  RF Code. The presentation centered on a case study in which a large enterprise was reaping the benefits of an asset management strategy using active RFID technology. Soon after the presentation, I met with Robert Fidtec, a sales representative at RF Code, and we dug deep into the latest progress in active RFID tagging, readers and deployment.

Quick explanation:  Unlike common passive RFID tags that send out a signal only when scanned by a reader – and therefore have a range of just a few feet – active RFID tags have an internal power source, greatly increasing their range of detectability. This means that just one reader (mounted, for example, in the ceiling) can sense and record all assets in a space of hundreds of square feet.

What interested me most were the big strides RF Code was making in two important areas:  dramatically lowering the cost of active RFID tags and the use of infrared rack locator strips that work in conjunction with those tags.

All the pieces came together…

The lower tag cost addressed my concerns about prohibitively high upfront investments. The IR rack locator strips combined the high degree of asset location accuracy – that had previously been available primarily from barcode tagging – with the efficiency of wide scanning range readers.

Not long after, I received inquiries from a client very interested in upgrading their asset tracking strategy and wondering specifically about the viability of active RFID.

The pieces all came together recently, when AMI formed a partnership with RF Code to become a reseller of their tags and readers. This is a huge benefit to our existing and future clients. AMI can now provide every modern tracking technology and combine it with the proven reporting benefits of our AssetTrack software. It means complete flexibility to mix and match technologies to achieve the best asset management solution.

Thomas Watson - CEO of AMIAuthor: Tom Watson

Tom Watson is AMI’s President and CEO. He began his career in high tech in 1996, as a software engineer for his own software company. After a subsequent stint at IT Asset Management firm Micropath as senior architect for that company’s asset tracking system, he founded AMI to develop hardware asset tracking technology solutions for enterprise IT Asset Management customers.