Assets in most all shapes and sizes can be tracked with RFID. Below are a few industries currently using RFID systems to successfully track valuable assets of all types, such as pallets, tools, and weapons.
1. Law Enforcement
Law enforcement personnel face a few problems regarding assets. On a daily basis, law enforcement teams interact with a wide array of assets like firearms, vehicles, IT equipment, evidence, and more. If their weapons, computers, or vehicles are misplaced or stolen, it could cost the agency thousands of dollars. If key evidence is lost, a criminal could walk free, or major lawsuits could be filed against that precinct. Loss or theft of assets can result in large fines and/or lawsuits, and the officer responsible could lose his or her job.
In Val Verde County, the sheriff’s office is working with RFID experts to create an asset tracking solution to monitor officers’ equipment in order to prevent theft or criminal activity. Using passive RFID in conjunction with real-time data-collection systems will help to ensure safety and protection of an officer’s vehicle and equipment at all times.
Currently, the program remains in the pilot stage, but if it provides visibility into the movements of equipment, the program could potentially be implemented in other law enforcement precincts and set a standard for RFID asset tracking.
In manufacturing, lost assets can cause major issues such as stalled work, lost sales, and wasted company money. Manufacturing companies track a variety of assets, some as small as work-related tools, to large assets like shipments of car parts. The ramifications of shipments arriving behind schedule, whether the cause be a delay in parts or loss of the assets entirely, can cost companies their reputation and clientele.
Japan Pallet Rental Corporation is using RFID to build a company that revolves around solving other companies’ asset management problems. They manufacture and rent reusable pallets in order to provide a cost-saving solution to other manufacturers who potentially lose up to 30% of their pallet stock per year. Pallets are an important part of most manufacturers’ inventory because they help reduce most of the work involved in loading and unloading goods. Pallets are not cheap, and the loss of 30% of pallet stock on average per year is the direct loss of company money.
By adhering extremely rugged, orientation insensitive wet inlays on these plastic pallets, the company is able to track them among their pallet pool system between the various regions. These custom RFID tags enable the company to rent and successfully recover their reusable pallets without wasting employee time searching for them.
One of the most talked about industries using RFID for asset tracking is education. From tracking elementary school children to college students, RFID has been in the news in the education industry since 2005, but what RFID is tracking now shows the strides this technology has made in the past 10 years.
RFID is being used to make schools safer for children and teachers around the nation. In a Nebraska school, RFID ensures students arrive at school safely while riding their bikes in the Ride-Your-Bike-to-School program. Solar powered RFID readers at the school read the RFID tags on each students’ backpack, and that information is uploaded to the internet for parents, students, and school administrators to view.
Other school systems are tracking books (both loaned and school library books), IT equipment, and other school property enabling them to protect themselves from theft and loss. Attendance tracking is also currently deployed in colleges which will ultimately reduce time to take roll, as well as encourage student attendance.
4. Business Environments
All types of businesses are able to use RFID asset tracking to solve inherent problems that occur in the workplace. Common problems addressed in the business world are inefficiencies in workflow, human error, labor costs, asset loss and theft, and zero visibility into internal assets and inventory. Altogether, RFID asset tracking can improve processes and allow businesses to become a highly effective and efficient functioning business unit.
Hundreds of possible assets are available to track in the business sector ranging from small tools, to IT equipment, reusable containers, and more. RFID can help to eliminate some unnecessary manual processes that slow businesses down and keep them from operating at an optimal level.
With thousands of patients, employees, and assets, hospitals and healthcare offices are ideal locations to implement RFID asset tracking systems. Currently, several hospitals across the world have RFID asset tracking systems in place that utilize all types of RFID technologies including active RFID, passive RFID, RTLS, and Wi-Fi systems. Some hospitals use passive RFID to track tools in addition to other reusable assets, also they may track patients with RTLS, active RFID, or Wi-Fi based systems.
The problems hospitals face, such as lost or stolen assets, can leave patients without beds or machines critical for their treatment. Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, has started tracking assets with an RTLS system in order to manage their high-value equipment like beds, defibrillators, IV pumps, and more. The tags currently used send out IR (infrared) beacons as well as RF signals as a type of redundancy system in case one or the other is blocked by other equipment.
Using this collaborative system, the hospital is able to track, locate, and provide needed maintenance for high-value equipment with ease. Other hospitals are using the same type of system to track patients as a way to reduce wait times and increase efficiency. RTLS in collaboration with RFID provides a dynamic system which gives real time information that helps to maintain and manage different types of assets.
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