RFID System Options for Optimal Asset Management

When you need to ensure the security of your assets from beginning to end, as well as replace stock, RFID security labels can be the ideal solution. But there are many configurations within the RFID realm to choose from. And each will offer a different level of increased efficiency to your business. If your business already uses base measures for asset management such as manual data entry or bar codes, the addition of an RFID system can provide significant benefits.

The Barcode System

But before even that, a system consisting completely of bar codes can be a good way to get used to a system of any kind. Usually, this solution is used in conjunction with a mobile reader for the quick, accurate and simple identification of assets. The bar code system works because it allows personnel to know which assets have and have not been processed. As well, an historical record of assets can be kept with a bar code system, which is capable of storing notes about products.

Mobile Reader RFID Systems

RFID security labels able to be read by a mobile reader is the ideal next step for businesses who have traditionally employed an all barcode solution. There are several benefits to the mobile reader RFID system, not the least of which is the fact that assets can be identified faster.

Items can also be identified if they are located outside the line of sight of the reader, something which can offer varying amounts of benefit, depending on the individual needs of a business who has decided to employ this system.

When switching from an all barcode to mobile RFID solution, a business should be ready for the increased cost for the RFID tags. As well, some care must be taken with placing the large tags to ensure readability. You may also want to take care with surrounding materials which can interfere with the readability of RFID tags, as well as attempting to read tags through the walls of a building, as this can cause confusion as to the items which have and haven’t been read.

Passive Fixed Reader RFID Systems

The work required to identify assets can be drastically reduced with the implementation of a passive fixed reader RFID system. With this system, reading of assets occurs continuously and without any intervention from humans whatsoever.

These fixed-mount systems carry the same caveats as their mobile reader counterparts. As well, the cost of the fixed reader needs to be considered, as does where and how it will be mounted. The ability for the reader to maintain communication with the tags, as well as maintenance must also be taken into account.

Active Static Reader RFID Systems

These systems include RFID tags which are active. Like its passive fixed reader counterpart, this system also requires no human intervention. It is also capable of monitoring assets over large areas. Each tag in this kind of system has a lifespan of around five years, however, and this fact should be considered before implementing an active system. Network access is required for the tags to be read.

When considering which type of system to implement, it can help to remember that a combination of traditional systems with an RFID solution may offer the most efficiency. For example, where there are small items requiring tracking, a bar code system can be ideal. However, for larger items RFID systems can work best. In addition to this, it’s important to consider that RFID systems can be used both for tracking assets and for performing audits of inventory. Regardless of the system chosen, the best choice will be one that’s been well-researched.

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Choosing the Best RFID Tags for your Business

When you need to be able to securely monitor all of your products, RFID is a sound choice. With RFID standards and technology having evolved in just a few years’ time, your options are many. The great news is that all RFID security labels can add a formidable level of protection to your business. But beyond this is to ensure that the tags you choose are the best possible choice for your requirements.

Begin with your Items

What kinds of items are you looking to be able to track? This is the first and most important question to ask yourself when choosing the right RFID tags for your business. Virtually anything can be secured with RFID, but some items will require bespoke tags or those made of certain materials.

If the products you wish to track with RFID already have a tracking device like a barcode, consider how it is attached to your products. It could be embedded, printed, bolted or sewn in or onto them. It also could take different forms, such as a hanging tag or label. Whatever the case, an RFID tag is likely to be able to be affixed to your products in the same ways, and thus may be capable of replacing your current system. Of course, RFID tags can offer a very good complement to an existing security method.

Environmental Conditions

Where the weather and temperature would affect the kinds of RFID tags that were able to be chosen, today it’s more about the environment in which products are being stored at retail locations. For example, clothing not yet ready for the sales floor may be stored in a drawer, while another type of product may be hung on hooks. Certain types of storage will require particular reading capability.

How Much?

Of course, the cost is always a consideration and RFID tags are no exception. Available in a wide range of costs that can be as small as a few pence to over £60 per tag, the most cost-efficient tags are those used for retail purposes and are of the passive RFID type. Only those tags considered to be active and used for specialised purposes can provide the additional functionality which often manifests itself in a higher cost.

Generally-speaking, the more the item being protected is worth, the higher the cost the RFID tag will be to protect it. However, these high-value items can see their tags lasting for many decades, as they often also store information in the form of maintenance history for as long as an item is in use or storage.

Tags which combine the ability to manage inventory along with deterring theft can also be of great benefit to a business owner. Again, while these can be expensive, they are also able to be reused, which results in greater cost savings over the long run.

Another way for the business wanting to use RFID tags to increase security is to avoid the purchase of a different tag for every product category. Instead, they can standardise a few tags.

Tags are an important part of RFID Security

It’s important to ensure that the tags you’ve selected are well aligned with the items you need to track. Only then will you be able to narrow a wide selection of tags down to the most appropriate few that will work most efficiently for you. Having only a few tags will also make it much easier when the time comes to test them in the warehouse or sales floor.

Investing the time into choosing the right RFID tag for your business will result in a product that not only secures your items, but that also provides your business with the metrics it needs to increase value to customers even further.

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Data Storage and Security with RFID

rfidSmart labels are an increasingly popular way to keep items safe, and RFID or radio frequency identification is at the top of the list. Smart labels are sensitive to pressure and all have some kind of inlay or transponder located under the label itself. RFID security labels are really part of a wireless system.

RFID offers a way for businesses to improve efficiency where the management of their assets is the priority. Often, RFID represents only one facet of a complete system which also includes bar codes and manual data entry.

Data Storage

Because of their capacity to handle varying amounts of information from a single number to several pages’ worth of data, RFID tags can be found most anywhere. Other means of tracking such as barcodes can only hold a small amount of information, and only in a single format.

Types of RFID

There are two options if you are choosing RFID for tracking and security purposes: passive and active.

Along with a reader, the passive RFID system works to communicate certain information to nearby customers. The reader emits radio waves, but also receives signals from surrounding tags. Passive RFID readers can have fixed or mobile readers. A fixed reader system allows assets to be monitored on a continuous basis without human input.

The active RFID system has no reader because the tag itself is one. This type of system is very useful for monitoring products and other assets over a large area without the need for manual activation or monitoring and human input.

Of course, each has its own disadvantages. The passive RFID system, for example can present a challenge to mount in some scenarios. As well, drops in the network can cause difficulty in maintaining communication with the RFID reader. The active RFID system’s large tags can make these readers difficult to mount also. As well, the lifecycle of active tags is 5 years, and network access to them can be a daunting task to provide.

Why is RFID Popular?

The reasons that several business owners are choosing to use RFID tags are many. RFID tags work without needing any line of sight, where their barcode counterparts must be able to be seen and read by lasers. As well, the barcode system requires not only the barcode itself to be clean and free of damage, but the ‘eye’ of the reader must also be clean and clear.

RFID tag systems, whether active or passive can withstand all kinds of weather and temperature extremes. They are also able to be read from some distance away, making their information accessible from virtually anywhere.

As stated previously, the fact that a single tag can store pages of information makes it a small database with incredibly high portability. Not only that, but multiple RFID tags can be read at one time, as well as have information sent to them simultaneously. A barcode’s information is not able to be changed once it has been encoded.

Another reason why RFID tags are so popular is that equipment, people or items can be tracked in real time. This alone has several benefits, including the ability to track something or someone that has left a designated area during off hours, which can prevent thousands of pounds in tampering and theft.

Of course, bar codes are still an ideal means of tracking smaller assets, as well those items that need to remain free of clutter or be aesthetically pleasing. At the end of the day, choosing to implement an RFID system will include a significant upfront cost. However, the many benefits of using this system for security purposes tend to far outweigh the disadvantages.

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