For businesses that rely heavily on their assets to generate revenue, asset tagging protocols are essential. This enables staff to track physical items and equipment with the use of tags and labels. Such as barcodes, RFID tags, and GPS trackers.
By utilising cloud-based tools and tracking technology, businesses can reduce the likelihood of assets going missing. As well as improve maintenance control and reliability. This allows a range of industries from healthcare to retail can benefit from tagging their mission-critical assets.
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What Is Asset Tagging?
Asset tagging is the process of affixing tags or labels to assets to identify each one individually and track data from real-time location to maintenance history. These tags can be assigned to both fixed and moveable assets that are spread across multiple sites and warehouses. Enabling businesses to achieve a holistic view of their owned assets.
Asset tagging opens up a wide range of data tracking possibilities, particularly when used alongside a computerised system such as Asset Tracking Software. With an estimated global market share of $36.3 billion by 2025, businesses are beginning to understand how essential and beneficial asset tracking can be to their operations.
By attaching tags and labels to assets, you can gather a wide range of data and record it in a digitised asset register. Asset data can include:
- Real-time location
- Purchase history
- Maintenance schedules
- Depreciation value
Why It’s Important to Tag Your Assets
Tracking assets with the use of digitised tools has long been an essential process for asset-intensive businesses. But the ability to track assets is only possible when first beginning the asset tagging process.
A key part of asset tagging is ensuring the right tags are chosen to collect data regarding a business’s physical assets. Keep in mind that each tag is different and can collect different types of data. Tagging mission-critical assets ensure important factors such as:
- Theft prevention
- Inventory control
- Real-time tracking
Two Stand-Out Benefits of Asset Tagging
No matter the type or size of your business, the ability to tag assets and continually track them is important. Not only is asset tagging a gateway to identifying the number of assets you have, but it also allows businesses to benefit in several other ways. Essentially, there are two stand-out benefits of using asset tagging tools.
1. Save Time and Resources Locating Equipment
In a working environment that is packed full of moveable assets and spread across multiple sites, manually searching for a specific asset can be a time-consuming process. But, by utilising asset tagging, each asset that has been affixed with a tag can be identified and found instantly.
The ability to quickly locate equipment is possible only when using tagging technology that incorporates real-time capabilities, which can be found in tools such as RFID tags and GPS trackers.
An industry that relies heavily on time management is healthcare. Delays can mean the difference between life and death, enabling staff to quickly track medical assets that can greatly reduce the time taken to find the right equipment. Without an automated tracking process, nurses waste 6000 hours on average each month tracking down medical equipment.
2. Reduce Costs Associated With Loss and Theft
A key advantage for tagging assets with trackable tags and labels is to ensure their whereabouts at all times. By having this information readily available in an asset register, businesses can eliminate the risk of losing assets that are critical for generating revenue. Whether that be spare parts, tools, or stock.
With a digital eye cast upon the location of your assets, the asset tagging process can help reduce the costs associated with replacing lost or stolen equipment. For instance, job site theft costs the construction sector $1billion each year due to the lack of asset visibility.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Successful Asset Tagging
The asset tagging process can be broken down into four simple steps:
- Assigning a unique identification number
- Choosing a suitable tag or label
- Creating an asset profile
- Affixing an asset tag
1. Assigning a Unique Identification Number
Once the type and category of an asset have been highlighted at purchase, it’s time to start assigning a unique identification (ID) number. Each ID number is different and will set all assets apart from one another in a bid to be instantly recognisable in an asset tracking system. A unique ID number will help managers and departments with processes such as reordering, maintenance, and accounting.
2. Choosing a Suitable Tag or Label
When it comes to tagging assets, there are several options to choose from. But it’s important to realise that each asset tag has different characteristics. This means a tag that may be suitable for one asset may not be suitable for another. Businesses should consider whether to prioritise tags based on factors such as their durability in environmental conditions and their security capabilities. Asset tag choices include:
- RFID tags
- GPS trackers
- NFC tags
- QR codes
3. Creating an Asset Profile
When assigning tags, the correct data that matches the intended asset needs to be included. By doing so, businesses can essentially create a detailed profile for each item that can be accessed through an asset tagging system. Asset data includes:
- Serial numbers
- Manufacturer details
- Date of purchase
- Typical usable life
4. Affixing an Asset Tag
Once valuable equipment has been identified and a unique profile has been created, businesses can then begin the process of tagging their assets. This involves affixing tags by pressure-sensitive adhesive methods or by mechanical attachments.
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How Durable Are Asset Tags & Labels?
Generally speaking, asset tracking labels are usually hardwearing and made to last. They can also be available in a range of various materials. For example, foil labels, which are often used both outdoors and indoors for IT equipment or machinery.
The graphics are sealed below the top layer of the label so that they can withstand harsh environments, rough handling, and even some chemicals.
With high-value assets, it’s best to use tamper-evident labels. These help to prevent theft, as it can be easy to tell when they’ve been interfered with.
For example, some tamper-evident labels break apart while others leave behind telltale letterings, such as the word ‘VOID’, upon being peeled away.
Another label material often used is polyester. A polyester asset tracking label is sometimes used for office furniture and fixtures. It has a transparent polyester film overlay for protection against spillages from water, cleaning fluids, and mild chemicals.
What Are the Different Types of Asset Tags and Labels?
When it comes to implementing an asset tagging system, there are a variety of tags and labels to choose from. Each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
RFID (radio-frequency identification) has been used as a form of tracking since the Second World War. It was later installed in 2004 by retailer Walmart as a way of tracking consumer assets, sparking a mass adoption of RFID tagging technology.
Available in different forms that offer varying frequencies, such as passive and active RFID tags, durable RFID tags are a popular choice when it comes to tagging assets. An RFID tag’s long-range and accurate data-reading capabilities have enabled many industries to capitalise on asset tracking solutions. In the retail industry, RFID technology enabled clothes retailer River Island to increase stock accuracy from 70% to 98%. Canus, a skincare production company, also utilises RFID tags and sensors to monitor the condition of their products when in transit.
Barcode and QR Code Labels
Barcode labels have been associated with asset tagging ever since the very first consumer barcode was scanned in 1974. Due to their cheap costs and availability, the use of barcode for asset tracking solutions are extremely popular in businesses that store hundreds or thousands of assets in warehouses and stock rooms.
Made up of varying bars and spaces that represent unique numbers and letters, barcodes can be read by simply scanning them with a compatible reader; whether a handheld scanner or smartphone.
GPS (global positioning system) tracking works by communicating with satellites to triangulate an exact position. They provide accurate real-time location data and are ideal for tracking large moveable assets such as equipment and vehicles.
Although GPS systems are expensive and not ideal for indoor tracking, they are an effective tracking solution for various operations. Including fleet management, logistics, and transportation organisations.
NFC (Near Field Communication) is a subset of RFID technology. but, unlike RFID, NFC tags offer two-way communication. Enabling them to transmit data between electronic devices and tags. NFC tags can store up to 4KB of data in various formats.
NFC tags are effective for asset tagging operations as they carry unique identifier codes. Because NFC systems work via cloud systems, they enable users to access data from anywhere at any time.
As these tags are attached directly to assets, once an asset is used and returned, you get a precise and real-time update on its use and location via an asset tracking system. This means NFC tags are equipped with faster processing speeds, better accuracy, and safer interactions for asset management.