Asset Tracking’s Evolution Beyond Barcodes

Asset tracking has evolved beyond barcodes to include technology such as RFID. Discover how both options can enhance your business’ operational efficiency.

Asset Tracking’s Evolution Beyond Barcodes

Keeping track of numerous assets is one of the biggest challenges many businesses face. From laptops and other IT hardware to furniture and machinery to staff kitchen equipment, there is plenty for businesses to keep tabs on, especially if they want to maintain an accurate asset register. This is where asset tracking solutions come in.

The various options available have evolved beyond traditional methods, such as barcodes, into a digital-first approach. These modern solutions can improve operational efficiency, which is why some businesses choose them, even if they do come at a higher cost than traditional barcodes.

Barcode Asset Tracking

The principle behind barcode asset tracking is simple. Whether generated from an asset tracking system and printed individually or taken from a pre-printed roll of asset tags, a barcode number is linked with an asset, the label is fixed to the asset, and the barcode is scanned using a scanner or mobile phone to access and update the asset register.

This traditional option is affordable, and the barcodes are universally scannable. The tags are lighter and flatter than RFID tags and can be attached to any material. Barcodes also offer higher overall scanning accuracy than RFID. However, the scanners require a direct line of sight to scan barcodes, assets must be scanned individually, and paper or vinyl tags are easier to damage than RFID tags.

When paired with reliable asset tracking software, barcodes offer a number of benefits that can help improve efficiency when used in asset management. These include:

  • Saving time and money: Barcode asset tracking can reduce the time and resources needed to track assets.
  • Improving accuracy: Scanning barcodes improves accuracy and lowers the risk of human error that can impact manual data entry.
  • Efficient audits: Scanning barcodes is a faster, more efficient way of conducting asset audits.
  • Flexible asset tracking: Barcodes can be used to track assets across their lifecycle, including actions such as additions, assignments, damages, disposals, item location, repairs, and transfers.

RFID Asset Tracking

RFID asset tracking is based on a principle similar to barcodes, and many companies use RFID the same way they would barcodes – even if they do so at a higher price. At first glance, this might seem like a waste of money, but RFID goes beyond barcodes, especially when an asset’s location is only approximately known or when it isn’t easily accessible.

Unlike barcodes, RFID tags don’t require a direct line of sight, hold significantly more data, and are more secure. The tags are read/write devices, so businesses with the right hardware can alter the data they hold. Some asset management applications can read multiple RFID tags simultaneously. Businesses can print barcodes onto RFID tag surfaces as a backup. However, RFID readers experience difficulties when passing through liquid or metal, and reader/tag collision can occur when numerous tags respond simultaneously, or different readers’ signals overlap.

This modern asset tracking option can boost businesses’ operational efficiency in all sorts of ways:

  • Automated Data Collection: RFID tags’ unique identifiers allow RFID readers to capture the information automatically and efficiently, with no need for manual intervention. This offers accurate data for analytics in real time.
  • Higher Level of Automation: RFID offers greater efficiency by automating asset tracking, inventory management, and logistics processes, providing insights into operational inefficiencies, and identifying patterns and trends for cost reduction and streamlining operations.
  • Real-Time Visibility and Tracking: Businesses can track tagged assets in real time for instant visibility regarding their movements and location, using this data for enhanced operational efficiency and making data-driven decisions.
  • Higher Level of Data Accuracy: RFID tags can be read from a distance for faster, more accurate data capture than barcode systems.

Best For Your Business

While RFID offers all sorts of bells and whistles, not every business requires those extra features. For those businesses, barcodes and asset tracking software from FMIS are the better option. If you want to improve your business’ asset tracking, use this information to choose the best option, weighing up cost, functionality, and benefits.

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