Where Is This Piece Of Lab Equipment? I Need To Use It Now

Scientists and engineers move equipment around because there isn’t enough of each type of equipment. It may not be prudent for the lab to purchase too many of the same type, because the lab equipment manufacturer is regularly releasing new products with advanced features. Lab budgets have to be judiciously structured to allow for purchases of the new equipment. This, of course, results in a constant shortage of some type of equipment or another. So, it’s not uncommon for equipment to be moved between labs.

Lab Equipment Tracking Software

Scientists and engineers are focused on the task at hand. When they need to use a specific piece of equipment and if it is not readily available at their lab, they will not think twice about visiting the lab next door or in the next building, pick up the equipment and move it into their lab with the honorable intention of returning it when they are done. More often than not, the intent does not translate to actual action. Having solved the issue at hand with this ‘borrowed’ equipment, they move on to the next issue, forgetting to return the equipment.

The next time another engineer/scientist needs the use of the equipment, they go look for it in its original location. Having not been able to locate it, they consult the lab manager responsible for it. After doing an extensive search, the frustrated lab manager expands the search to nearby labs and may ultimately locate it. If unluckily, the borrower had moved it out to a lab in another building, the search can be arduous and expensive. It could involve multiple people’s time across several teams. There is of course, the actual impact to the projects involved, which can easily translate to product release delays which is directly relevant to the company’s bottom line.

Passive Fixed RFID Reader

With lab equipment tagged with RFID tags, they can be tracked as they exit or enter labs. Lab managers can be notified when some equipment is detected leaving a lab, but not entering within a specified time period. Expensive equipment can be watched even more closely. With AssetPulse’s RFID solution for lab equipment tracking, customers have been able to reduce their missing asset occurrence by over 90%, which has appealed to the Directors and VPs of the organizations!

How AssetPulse assists in Lab Equipment Calibration Management

Timely calibration of critical equipment is essential in the pharmaceutical industry

Why is calibration important?

Given the enormous impact of the pharmaceutical sector on the lives of billions of people, the industry takes every measure to ensure it conducts its research with accurately calibrated equipment.  Labs have to adhere to numerous regulatory compliances to ensure their product integrity, which include proper instrument calibration in a timely manner.

Calibration certificate is issued against equipment after validation. This certificate contains key information such as reference standard, last calibration date, next calibration due, normal operating range of instrument etc. Calibration certificate is a mandatory document that is referred prior to producing pharmaceutical products. Should a problem arise in the manufactured product, information contained in the calibration certificate is key to determining when, where, and how an error was introduced.

As with any manual process, keeping track of calibration certificates and calibration-due-dates is subject to human error no matter how organized or careful lab personnel may be.

AssetPulse’s RFID-Enabled Asset Tracking solutions address this problem.

AssetPulse software facilitates the entire calibration process – from determining which assets need calibration to physically locating them and to processing the post-calibration paperwork .

AssetPulse software proactively alerts users of upcoming calibration-due-dates – both via email as well as via software alerts. Users are also able to query the system for a list of assets that need calibration in the short term. They can download asset lists to mobile RFID readers, which enable them to quickly and efficiently locate equipment on the lab floor. The AssetPulse Geiger Proximity Search Feature on the RFID reader makes this search possible.

Lab Equipment Tracking Solution

 

Lab Equipment Tracking Software

Once equipment calibration is complete, users can easily update the system with calibration dates and calibration certificates for the equipment. The AssetPulse System helps in calibration certificate traceability as it digitally stores calibration certificates, which means they are readily available in case of an audit. This alleviates the time-consuming manual process of searching through numerous paper folders in hopes of locating calibration certificates.

Using the AssetPulse RFID-Enabled Asset Tracking software, our biotech and biomed customers have streamlined their calibration processes, whether they perform calibration in-house or they contract it out to third parties.

How AssetPulse RFID enabled Asset Tracking Facilitates in Maintenance and Servicing of Equipment?

RFID helps equipment owners to maximize the life of their assets by facilitating regular maintenance and repairs of their equipment. RFID can be leveraged across numerous industries for this purpose, including manufacturing, construction, oil and gas 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 instant, 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’s RFID enabled asset tracking can help professionals 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.

AssetPulse RFID enabled asset tracking facility

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RFID’s role 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. 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.

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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Why RFID for IT asset tracking?

Year-end IT asset audits can cause major headaches for property or asset managers. IT equipment that are audited span the spectrum – servers, desktops printers, copiers, projectors, network equipment, laptops, tablets and maybe even smartphones. Both Government and commercial organizations undergo the same painful 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.

With our RFID based 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 is less than 10% of the time needed for a barcode scan. The improvement in productivity is even more dramatic if the organization has been doing audits manually.

RFID for IT asset trackingImage URL https://www.flickr.com/photos/berkeleylab/2826512416/in/album-72157606750788148/

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 taken out 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 poor asset 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 scan 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. So, when the year-end audit comes around, there are very few surprises with regards to missing equipment.

Once the audits are done, reconciliation might also take an inordinate length of time. Figuring out the differences between your scanned list and the list that your Finance folks 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!

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How AssetPulse Lab Equipment Tracking Solution Came to be?

We don’t envy lab managers of high tech companies. They are in charge of the inventory of labs chock-full of test and measurement equipment – probes, analyzers, meters, signal generators, prototype boards, computers and the list goes on. Often their labs are spread across floors, buildings, campuses, cities and even countries!

lab equipment tracking solution

Equipment is moved from one lab to another on a regular basis – engineers and scientists just want to get their job done – they move equipment and prototypes around to conduct their experiments and development projects. Inventory managers need to keep abreast of the whereabouts of every asset, and track which team is using which asset and if it was indeed still being used. Further, the current whereabouts and status of these assets needs to be gathered without impeding the activities of the scientists and technicians.

Just when the inventory managers think they have a handle on where all their equipment is, a scientist or technician will complain to them that they are not able to do their job because he or she can’t find a specific probe or analyzer. And so the search begins once again.  In certain critical cases they even end up buying new equipment to not jeopardize the project at hand. This unfortunately, is not a unique problem confined to one company – we hear the same refrain from every lab inventory manager we have spoken to.

Having worked with several such lab managers across several companies, we have now honed our lab equipment tracking solution to satisfy these users. This use case lends itself to the employment of various auto-ID technologies including active RFID and/or passive RFID. The solution can include just mobile scanners or can be enhanced with stationary readers.

It is always rewarding, at the end of a deployment, to see the lab manager get excited to locate a hard-to-find probe in just a few minutes, when they previously spent hours or days looking for them!

Tired of searching lab equipment? We have the solution. Click here for a free demo!

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