How to Perform Efficient Asset Audits with RFID

rfid asset tracking inventory management

RFID is the Asset Manager’s great ally when it comes to annual asset audits…..

Wall to Wall Asset Audit Process

Do you find yourself preoccupied with your annual asset audit for at least three months every year? Annual or Semi-annual audits are the bane of the Asset Manager’s existence. No matter the type of assets to be audited – IT assets across the Enterprise, instruments in Labs, tools on the manufacturing floor or weapons in the Armory – the process is excruciatingly tedious and burdensome. If you currently use barcodes or worse, a highly labor-intensive manual process to do your wall-to-wall audits, we commiserate with you.

Having to crawl under desks or lab benches, reach behind assets in order to read off barcodes or serial numbers, is not only time consuming, but can also be injurious to your health! Often, teams of people are made to perform these audit tasks and it can take days, if not weeks. Once an audit is done of the entire company, considerable amount of time is spent reconciling the audited list with the list sent by your finance department.

Then the teams have the unenviable task of chasing down those assets that were not yet located the first time around. Now, equipment owners, lab managers, Principal Investigators and the like, are recruited to participate in the daunting task of having to track down the missing assets. After days of these expensive resources being deployed, the missing asset list is whittled down to a few dozen. The Finance department is then asked to write these items off. All in all, it is a costly and laborious process.

rfid asset tracking for asset audit

RFID Asset Ttracking Inventory Management
Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/berkeleylab/3523139681/

RFID Asset Tracking Solution for Wall to Wall Asset Audit

1) Identify all assets that you need to audit and RFID tag them

By using RFID asset tracking solutions i.e. RFID tagging the assets, using an RFID handheld reader only or a combination of RFID handheld readers and fixed RFID readers, the organization can more efficiently and accurately complete its audits, with nearly 100% reconciliation. Audit times can be cut down by nearly 90%, i.e. if a manual audit of a building takes 20 hours, an RFID scanned audit will take less than 2 hours to complete.

2) Perform Asset Audit with RFID scanner

How often has an audit team found an asset stashed away in a cardboard box in the far corner of a room after having spent dozens of hours looking for it. If the asset had an RFID tag on it, it would have been picked up the first time someone walked by it with an RFID scanner. This is because RFID tags can be read from inside cardboard and wooden boxes.

3) Scan Multiple Assets with RFID as opposed to 1 by 1 scanning of Barcode

Scanning barcode tagged assets with a barcode scanner takes at a minimum 30 seconds per asset. This typically involves locating the barcode and then aligning the scanner in line with barcode to scan it. Whereas, scanning 100 assets that are RFID enabled takes less than 10 seconds. This enables the customer to be able to perform inventory scans more often and so asset information usually is up-to-date. Additionally, the AssetGather web application keeps track of each and every asset’s movement history. If during the audit process, a critical asset is not found, then the AssetGather web application can be used to identify where the RFID tagged asset in question was last seen. This helps save tremendous amount of time for the Inventory Manager who tries to locate an asset in a traditional barcode system.

4) 90% Faster Asset Audits and Efficient Locating of assets with RFID

Our customers have not only seen at least a 90% reduction in audit times, but have also not seen a need to write off inventory due to their inability to locate them. Further, they have realized more than 100% ROI in less than 2 years.

One of our happy customers

“The AssetPulse active RFID solution meets my needs for managing the ALS vacuum equipment pool. The inventory and search capability of the active system is invaluable during the yearly wall to wall inventory of the entire lab. Having an up-to-date inventory record of all assets will cut the time and labor cost to the lab to an ultimate minimum. Previously, wall-to-wall inventory has taken multiple weeks to manually find and scan these assets.”

– Frank Zucca, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Since the AssetPulse web application server keeps track of asset movement history, additional data can be gleaned out of the system like what types of assets are used extensively and how long an RFID enabled asset stays at a particular location. This will help the inventory management team to stock more of these assets so that these assets do not become a bottle neck for regular day to day work.

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RFID in Manufacturing Helps Gain Better Visibility Into Production Data

RFID in manufacturing process

One of AssetPulse’s customers integrated RFID into the production work flow. Goods manufactured are embedded with unique RFID tags and each RFID asset data gets mapped to unique serial number of item being manufactured.

It is quite essential for management to get visibility into the number of goods manufactured in a given period of time and get other granular details like the quantity of the type of items manufactured per day, per shift and so on. Based on the production data, management can address any efficiency issues that might exist or bring about a process change for the better.

Without RFID all these information had to be tracked manually by feeding data into a spreadsheet or a register, which was prone to manual errors. Additionally, verifying produced goods involved manually sorting and counting them, which is quite time consuming. More importantly, archiving and reporting historical production data required intensive data mining.

RFID in manufacturing process

Benefits of using RFID in Manufacturing

Now, with RFID asset tracking introduced in the manufacturing process, each and every item that gets manufactured is embedded with an RFID tag. AssetPulse asset tracking software feeds RFID data along with serial number of the item manufactured, time of manufacture, shift timing and other relevant information into a spreadsheet which is then packaged along with the production slip. RFID scanner is used to scan 100’s of produced goods in a fraction of minute and this is cross-verified against the production slip to ensure integrity of the production lot. Cross-verifying a production lot used to take at least an hour without RFID earlier.

AssetPulse asset tracking software archives the production data which is used for easier reporting and data analytics. If the manufactured goods are returned servicing or for RMA, then with the help of the unique RFID tag that is embedded, it is very easy to identify the manufacturing details of the product such as date of manufacture, batch and quantities manufactured in the batch etc. This data can be used in identifying production, QA or manufacturing issues and appropriate corrective actions can be taken.

Basically, RFID in manufacturing process provides visibility of the process as well as statistical data, all of which can be used for increasing efficiency. Want to know if RFID is the right technology for your tracking project? Contact us today.

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Equipment Tracking and Calibration Management in Cleanrooms Automated with AssetPulse RFID Asset Tracking Solution

RFID Cleanroom

Do you know what equipment has to go to Metrology for calibration? Do you know when it was removed from the cleanroom and whether it has gone to Metrology? Was it brought back to the Cleanroom and if so, when?

Equipment Management in Cleanroom

Cleanroom management in a biotech or high-tech company poses several challenges, many of which, if not addressed effectively, can severely impact the company’s bottom line. One of the many challenges is facilitating the strict adherence of the calibration schedule for all test and measurement equipment. This means, not only ensuring that the equipment is removed from the Cleanroom and sent to Metrology, but also that the equipment is returned to the right location in the Cleanroom from Metrology.

Cleanroom management has very little visibility into this process. Several times, equipment may leave the Cleanroom, but is not delivered to Metrology in a timely fashion. Often calibration is completed, but the Cleanroom is not aware of it and the equipment is sitting on some shelf waiting to be returned to the Cleanroom.

asset tracking solution

Asset Tracking Solution for Lab Equipment Management in Cleanroom

A global medical device company faced similar challenges for several years. These problems were of course exacerbated by its explosive growth, thus exposing it to more severe consequences. Over the years, it tried to address them with process modifications and applying various technologies.  With the AssetPulse lab equipment tracking solution – a combination of well-selected RFID tags, appropriate reader configurations and well-tuned asset tracking system, they were able to finally address the problems effectively. Not only were they able to get complete visibility of how the RFID tagged test equipment moved between the Cleanroom and Metrology, but they were proactively alerted when there was a break in the process – when equipment wasn’t delivered to Metrology in a timely manner or if calibrated equipment wasn’t returned to the Cleanroom when ready.  

Automated Asset Tracking software

  • Equipment movement from and to Cleanroom were monitored in real time by Fixed RFID readers
  • Metrology doors/portals were instrumented with fixed RFID readers.
  • Additionally, shelves that held calibrated equipment, waiting to be picked by Metrology were RFID instrumented.

The AssetGather automated RFID asset tracking solution alerted Equipment Managers that calibration was completed and that they could pick up their equipment at Metrology. Automatic tracking alleviated the shortcomings of the manual process involved in keeping track of equipment moving between Cleanrooms and Metrology.

In order to realize the full potential of AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solution it is very critical to choose optimal RFID tags. Not only do they have to be mounted on very small pieces of equipment including 6” rulers, but they also have to withstand the sterile environment of the Cleanroom. This means they have to withstand chemical wipe-downs and sometimes more rigorous cleansing.  AssetPulse offers tried and tested RFID tags of different form factors and properties like the ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions and to sustain exposure to chemicals.

When it comes to High-Tech Cleanrooms, equipment might need to be sent to third-party calibration houses. One or more locations can be designated for holding equipment that is being sent out for calibration. These locations are monitored automatically and the Cleanroom Equipment managers can be notified when equipment is removed from these locations to be sent out. When they are returned from the Calibration company, the managers are notified, so they can go pick them up from those locations and place them back in the Cleanroom.

 

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How AssetPulse RFID Equipment Tracking eases Asset Maintenance and Service

AssetPulse RFID enabled asset tracking facility

RFID equipment tracking helps equipment owners to maximize the life of their assets by facilitating regular maintenance and repairs of their equipment. RFID equipment tracking can be leveraged across numerous industries for this purpose, including manufacturing, construction, oil and gas, lab equipment and Utilities. Building maintenance professionals who are responsible for HVAC equipment can also greatly benefit from the use of RFID. A CMMS Study finds that 34% of users do not track asset data.

According to the study, two thirds of them track asset data manually. This can lead to inaccuracies and incomplete information about their assets. Having suboptimal maintenance procedures can greatly impact the longevity and safety of their equipment.

It is important for owners to have a complete picture of their assets, including insight into utilization, allocation, operations, maintenance, safety and regulatory testing of their assets. The reality however is that at any given instance, they may have their assets spread across multiple locations making it difficult to keep asset information reconciled and to ensure that maintenance and safety procedures are executed and recorded in a timely and accurate manner.

AssetPulse RFID Equipment Tracking Solutions

AssetPulse’s RFID Equipment Tracking Solutions can help professionals to efficiently track and assess asset health. How?

All assets are tagged with RFID tags. With the help of AssetGather software, maintenance professionals can track their assets as they move through various locations leveraging the RFID reader infrastructure. This can either be a mobile or fixed infrastructure or a combination of both.

If an asset is serviced, the maintenance team can update maintenance data in the AssetGather system. Or, if an asset has returned from a leased usage, usage information about the asset can be updated in AssetGather.

Critical data can also be stored in the RFID tag itself, so it is available to maintenance professionals locally, even if they have no network access to the centralized system.

Not only does the system allow for  updating maintenance data, AssetGather also provides for proactive alerting of upcoming scheduled maintenance, regulatory testing and other critical attributes for each asset.  Email alerts are a convenient method to warn users of these imminent tasks. Overdue or missed maintenance can also result in escalated notifications.

Maintenance and regulatory documents can be stored digitally within the system. This eliminates the need to search through myriad documents in the case of an audit. Thus, AssetGather facilitates easy access to all asset related data including its movement, operational details, maintenance and regulatory testing information.

RFID equipment tracking

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The Role of RFID Asset Tracking Solutions in Oil Industry’s Consolidation Process

As the world oil markets continue to be in flux, consolidation within the oil and gas industry, especially in North America, is accelerating. The small to medium business sector is seeing significant activity.

Companies are being acquired, not only for their customer base, but also for their assets. Organizations that are positioning themselves as acquisition candidates need to streamline their business processes and show enhanced visibility of their assets. This makes them more attractive to prospective acquirers.

RFID Asset Tracking Solutions for Oil and Gas Industry

Using AssetPulse’s RFID based asset tracking solutions, these savvy companies not only achieve 100% visibility of their assets, but also can leverage them to streamline their business processes – processes to accurately check-in/check-out assets to and from jobs, efficiently manage maintenance and inspections of all their equipment, tie all this into their financial systems, etc.

Being able to show end-to-end visibility of their assets along with streamlined operations, makes it easier for potential suitors to do due diligence on the companies, thereby making them more attractive targets. Not only do they position themselves well in the M&A markets, they also enjoy the side benefits of reduced operational costs resulting from efficient use of their assets and resources.

RFID asset tracking solutions

Photo by Dean Brierley on Unsplash

Once an acquiring company has completed a merger, they have to be able to quickly incorporate the new member into their operations. In order to make the unification efficient, companies standardize on using RFID based asset tracking solutions to maximize visibility of their augmented operations and asset inventory.

Mergers lead to additional company locations, servicing an expanded list of regions and geographies. It becomes even more important to know where all the assets are and whether they are being utilized optimally. Leveraging the visibility provided by our RFID solutions, oil and gas companies are able to make decisions about re-allocation of assets amongst the locations based on each region’s business needs.

Further, they are able to make informed determinations on new purchases, balancing the requirements of each location. Excess equipment is either disposed of, or is leased out in order to reduce expenses and increase revenue. The rental side of the business can also leverage the RFID based asset tracking solutions, just like the mainstream business.

And of course, our solutions can also play a significant role in tracking maintenance and inspections of equipment across the entire company. As new divisions or regions are added, it is imperative that HSE policies of the parent company continue to be enforced and adopted. Our solutions show whether preventive maintenance and safety inspections are being done routinely, and can flag alerts if and when the occasional ball is dropped.

 

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