Why RFID for IT Asset Tracking?

Year-end IT asset audits can cause major headaches for property or asset managers in IT organizations. IT equipment that is audited, span the spectrum – servers, desktops printers, copiers, projectors, network equipment, laptops, tablets and  even smartphones. Both government and commercial organizations undergo the same tedious but essential process when it comes to trying to complete their year-end audits. We hear stories of asset managers crawling beneath desks and searching the dark corners of closets looking for misplaced IT equipment. These searches not only take up the asset managers’ time, but also the time of the equipment users themselves, thereby negatively impacting productivity across the entire organization.

1. RFID inventory scan is faster and accurate

With our RFID asset tracking solutions, one of our customers Lawrence Berkeley Labs who are tracking their IT assets in addition to their lab equipment, were able to reduce their audit time from 3 months to 3 weeks! The time needed to do an audit using RFID is a tiny fraction of what it takes to audit using barcode readers. It takes less than 10% of the time needed for a barcode scan. The improvement in productivity is even more dramatic if the organization had been doing audits manually, with pen and paper.

2. RFID allows more inventory audits due to its speed and efficiency

Most IT equipment, with the exception of mobile equipment like laptops and tablets, are expected to stay put for the most part. However, that is often not the case. Equipment might be removed because it isn’t working properly. It is quickly stashed in an already overcrowded closet – out of sight, out of mind. Someone retired or moved departments – their equipment could be swiftly repurposed for some other use within the department. All this happens without the knowledge of the uninformed asset or property manager. These are a few reasons why year-end audits tend to be such protracted nightmares.

Since RFID scanning is so efficient, asset managers are able to take periodic snapshots of their inventory all through the year, instead of just doing a single inventory survey at year end. This allows them to be able to detect a missing item earlier. Owners of the missing equipment tend to remember what happened to it, because of less elapsed time. Asset inventory is adjusted all through the year, with the asset locations updated during the periodic scans. So, when the year-end audit comes around, there are very few surprises with regards to missing equipment.

3. Reconcile inventory audit with one button click

Once the audits are done, reconciliation might also take an inordinate length of time. Figuring out the differences between your scanned list of assets and the list that your Finance folks (Finance list) have given you, can be tricky and cumbersome. Our AssetPulse IT asset tracking solution allows reconciliation to be performed with one button click, much to the relief of our users! The reconciliation gives you the list of assets in the Finance list that were scanned and found. It also provides you with a list of assets in the Finance list that still need to be found and a list of assets that were found, but were not in the Finance list.

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RFID for Inventory Control in Manufacturing

RFID Implemented for Inventory Control in Manufacturing Operations

Managing inventory levels in a cost-effective and revenue-driven manner can be difficult, even for the most experienced manufacturer. Without access to effective systems to help automate inventory control processes, properly managing inventory levels can be quite the challenge for manufacturers. AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solutions helps in automating inventory management.

RFID Implemented for Inventory Control in Manufacturing Operations
RFID Based Inventory Control in Manufacturing Operations

AssetPulse’ inventory control capabilities allow manufacturers to automate their processing based off of previous purchasing trends and can even set reminder alert for raw material orders to renew when needed. With a real time inventory data, inventory control becomes less of a pain point and more a second nature

How inventory is traditionally managed?

Many different ways are used to keep control of inventory. One basic method is by creating a spreadsheet with various columns for product name, item number, and quantity. A column to deduct what is sold or consumed. Additionally, a log for returns and new incoming stock is maintained. It requires continuous manual monitoring to ensure every transaction is accounted for.

For more sophisticated customers, they may be using an ERP system to track inventory and inventory levels. Often data input into these systems is also manual – often through barcode scanners.

Of course, these are all labor-intensive processes. The information is difficult to share, and another huge pitfall is human error. People are prone to make mistakes––mistakes that are difficult to track and result in inaccurate inventory numbers.

Forecasting Demand

A manufacturer relies on inventory to complete a finished product for which they expect to get paid. For example, an aerospace manufacturer has millions of dollars in parts in their inventory of raw materials that they include in the finished product.

Forecasting demand is essential for any business. For a manufacturer, this means having enough inventory on hand to meet this demand. If a manufacturer fails to forecast demand and orders too little inventory, they face the possibility of losing customers to a competitor. A late order may come at a higher expense, as supplier prices rise due to increased demand; this is another way the manufacturer loses money. If the manufacturer overestimates demand and orders too much inventory, they stand the chance of having unused inventory and may have to incur additional storage costs.

AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solution

Inventory management can be automated with the help of AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solution. RFID tags are affixed onto the items that are inventoried. Fixed readers can be strategically placed either at the source or the destination to monitor transfer of inventory. E.g. inventory can be tracked in VLMs (Vertical Lift Modules), on shelves where inventory is stored or the carts that carry inventory from one location to another. RFID readers can be placed also at the destination where the inventory is consumed.  With the help of these fixed RFID readers or handheld RFID scanners, inventory data is updated in real-time or periodically, whichever is optimal.

The AssetGather RFID based tracking system is available as a hosted solution or as an on-Prem solution – inventory data is readily accessible from anywhere, in either case. Apart from this, AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solution also alerts users when the inventory level is running below par and inventory thresholds are likely to be breached imminently. All this happens automatically without any human intervention, thereby making the otherwise time consuming process very efficient and accurate.

AssetGather also can integrate with other ERP systems to update those system with inventory data that is automatically collected by AssetGather. Integrations can span a range, from very simple exchange of data to more complex integrations that not only update inventory data, but also facilitate and validate various manufacturing processes as they occur in real-time.

The RFID asset tracking software also has different reports including historical reports which enables manufacturer to forecast a demand and stock required inventory.

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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

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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