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When it comes to new rental technology are you a visionary or a pragmatist?
- Written by Murray Pollok - 05 Oct 2010 on International Rental News Magazine

More and more rental applications for RFID asset tagging technology are coming to light. Is it time that you considered the latest asset management technology? Murray Pollok reports.

Are you visionary or a pragmatist? Sujatha Bodapati, founder and CEO of AssetPulse, an RFID asset tracking company based in San Jose, California, is looking for more of the latter, since it's those kinds of people who are prepared to invest in new technology like RFID (radio frequency identification).

Ms Bodapati, a 20 year veteran of the IT and asset tracking market, tells IRN that RFID is a classic illustration of the 'Crossing the Chasm' thesis by marketing guru Geoffrey Moore. This holds that there is a difficult 'chasm' to cross between the innovators and early adaptors of new technology and its subsequent mainstream adoption by the 'early majority'.

"RFID still has not quite crossed the chasm", she says, "We do see some companies looking ahead, it is whether they are willing to take the lead...upper management has to have the vision."

Some do. Aggreko was one of the first big names to adopt RFID tracking technology - in its case for quickly processing equipment returning to depots and for preparing orders - while offshore oil and gas rental specialists in both the US and the North Sea have also been quick to see the opportunities of RFID, which offers a more robust and versatile alternative to barcodes, able to withstand very harsh operating conditions and store a wide variety of asset and operational data.

In the equipment rental sector these early adaptors are leading the way in finding applications that make them more efficient, cost effective companies.

AssetPulse, for example, has been working for several years with Phoenix, Arizona-based tower crane rental company Stafford Tower Cranes on an RFID project that helps the company track its crane components - typically mast sections - on its cranes located around the US.

"It's a perfect example", says Ms Bodapati, "of how components move from one contract to another. They have cranes all over the country and can't easily keep track of the tower sections."

Stafford fixed RFID tags to each of the crane sections, and these are then read using a hand held mobile reader used on site by a visiting Stafford technician or salesman.

In addition to recording what sections are where, the system allows Stafford to "keep accurate account of how long [the equipment] has been used by the customer", says Ms Bodapati.

AssetPulse and Stafford are now engaged on a further phase of the project that will expand the usability of the RFID based system, and about which Ms Bodapati will not yet divulge details.

One feature of AssetPulse's work has been the development of very robust RFID tags that can be used in harsh offshore environments, and that are used for "closed loop" applications. That is, where the asset remains owned by a single organisation, unlike the RFID tags commonly used in the retail environment where they are tracking goods from the start to finish of a single journey.

Full Article Source : International Rental Magazine Website.

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