RFID has become a powerful new asset tracking technology that saves significant time and improves accuracy when maintaining assets. While RFID technology can provide real-time visibility to asset tracking, that is only true with certain RFID technologies. At A2B Tracking, we deal mostly with passive UHF RFID tags since they don’t require battery power and maintenance which allows them to easily last for the life of the assets being tracked. With UHF RFID tags you can do two things: locate your assets and track their movement through choke points such as doorways, entryways or exits.
With fixed RFID readers and antennas it’s possible to create a location system that is close to real-time. The specifics of building such a system depends on the square footage of the facility and the asset types you wish to track. By installing RF readers on a shelf, you can update your inventory quickly and often. The back-end system will record where and when items have been detected enabling you to know what’s in stock or within the facility.
Once you know what’s on the shelves you can set up alerts for specific events. For example, you might want to be notified if an item has fallen below the required stock levels to support your operations. That allows you to keep the most up to date inventory levels or assets available to support your needs.
A second situation would be where you set up readers at places where items or pallets move through a doorway or, more generally, a choke point. This setup allows you to know where the asset was last detected. For example, assets could be read as they move through an overhead door going to or coming off a truck. One of the major benefits of a system like this is that the personnel don’t have to do any additional work or anything differently to capture these important events. Forcing all items through an RFID choke point is one way to gain significant event details about asset movements and helps you build an electronic record of your inventory.
Real-Time RFID in the Military
At A2B Tracking many of our asset tracking deployments are within these very challenging environments. Military installations use this real-time concept to achieve complete visibility into the movement of critical items.
We’ve done work in armories to track weapons and other assets like NVGs (Night Vision Goggles), scopes and radios. Armories like to perform a full inventory at shift change every 8 hours, no matter how large it may be, so they can ensure complete accountability. That way they’ll know just what assets were physically present and what had been checked out for each shift.
The problem is that doing an inventory manually or with a barcode solution takes time and it’s not possible to get the level of detail required within the available time. As a result there are a lot of discrepancies where assets are missing or can’t be accounted for, and no visibility of who was responsible.With RFID technology, and particularly with mobile RFID, an armory can inventory all the weapons cages in a very short time, usually just ten or fifteen minutes.
The portal windows on an armory are a great example of a choke point where the weapons were checked in and out. Readers and antennas were mounted to electronically capture each time the weapon either left or returned to the armory through the portal window. Starting with a complete inventory and forcing everything through these choke points created an electronic record of who took custody of the assets and returned which assets and when. Full reporting capability shows the movements and how long things were checked out, who checked them out and so on.
Learn more about real-time RFID tracking and how you can take advantage of RFID technology in your asset tracking system watch our on-demand webinar for more information.