Scratching the Surface on RFID

Have you ever wondered what all the hype is about RFID?  Have you ever wondered what it even stands for? RFID means ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ and applies to technologies that use radio waves to detect objects with encoded microchips. Think about the remote that opens your car – that’s RFID. Your car and your key fob have an exclusive relationship so that only that key opens that car. The same technology can be used in tracking hardware assets in your company.  How?  When you are scanning assets, it can quickly read/pick up RFID tags that are at a distance.  Because you can wave the RFID gun around devices with RFID tags, this allows you to scan devices a lot quicker than you would with a generic barcode/laser scanner.

Now, RFID has its pros and cons just like anything else.  Unfortunately, it isn’t a magic wand, but if properly used, RFID can greatly improve productivity and accuracy while reducing labor requirements.  Before jumping the gun (pun intended) and purchasing an RFID system, it is advised to take some time to learn about it and evaluate whether or not it is a good fit for your hardware asset management organization.

How is RFID special when tracking assets?

Imagine you are standing in your company’s datacenter; you have hundreds of assets to scan and by the way it all needs to be done by the end of the business day.  Are your palms sweaty yet?  In Hardware Asset Management you are often faced with these types of situations.  Not enough people, not enough time. This is where RFID comes in to save you time, improve tracking and reduce operational costs.

  • Increased Efficiency:  You can quickly scan lots of RFID tags all at once, making things like check-ins, check-outs, and audits way faster. This is super helpful when you have a ton of assets to manage.
  • Improved Inventory Tracking: With RFID tags on your assets, you can track everything in real-time and get automatic updates. No more manual counting, and way fewer mistakes.
  • Reduced Operational Costs: Automating your asset tracking with RFID tech means you’ll spend less on labor and save time on manual tasks. This cuts costs and boosts productivity.

AMI customer saves 67% in auditing time…

Here at AMI, we have customers that use RFID in different ways like tracking IT devices, auditing data centers, and tracking furniture or artwork. We hear all about what works for them and what doesn’t.

Before using RFID and a proper asset management tool, an enterprise customer of ours used to take 3 -4 days to audit their assets and an additional 2-3 days manually uploading the data. That is over a weeks’ worth of work just for a single audit!  Once they realized that this wasn’t feasible, they switched to using AssetTrack coupled with RFID and cut down 67% of their auditing time.  This allowed them to have more accurate data and save a lot of time that they could then allocate to other important tasks.  I mean who wouldn’t want that?  Just like these customers, if it is used properly, it can be incredibly powerful.

Is RFID the right solution for you?

Like mentioned before, RFID isn’t a magic wand that you can wave and then poof, everything and anything is tracked in the nick of time. You want to be sure that your environment and what you want to track supports an RFID system.  Below is a good use case and a not so good use case for RFID:

Good use case: one of the best use cases for RFID is auditing a data center.  Data centers are set up in such a way that all devices are neatly placed on racks.  Because data center devices are not likely to move around often, the data center set up remains in an organized fashion. RFID tags can be strategically placed on these devices making them easy to see and get to with an RFID gun.  Again, RFID allows you to scan at a distance, so reaching those hard-to-reach access points shouldn’t be an issue.

Not so good use case: stockroom audits may sound like a good use case but can be tricky with RFID.  Assets are constantly being moved around or coming in and out of stockrooms, causing laptops to be stacked on top of one another. Stacking laptops in a stockroom can block the RFID tags on the lids of laptops underneath. RFID tags that fit on the side bezel don’t read very well. They stick out, inviting end users to pick them off or to be knocked off inadvertently.

Having the proper scenario for RFID is an important part in determining if RFID is the right solution for you, but there are some other things that you want to take into consideration. Below are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are my specific goals for using RFID?
  2. What types of assets do I need to track?
  3. What is my budget for implementing RFID?
  4. How many assets do i need to tag and track?
  5. What environment will I be using RFID in?
  6. How will RFID integrate with my existing systems?
  7. What are the potential challenges and limitations?
  8. What are the security and privacy considerations?
  9. How will I measure the success of the RFID implementation?
  10. What training will my team need?

The questions above are ways to start thinking about RFID and other asset management tools. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are different types of passive and active systems, many types of reading devices, and different ways to properly set up any RFID solution. If you are considering implementing or enhancing RFID, get in touch and we can help steer you in the right direction.