T S D RFID

murmurgarbanzobeansElectronics - Devices

Nov 27, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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T
HE
S
TRAIGHT
D
OPE

ON
RFID
If you work in the property management industry, you’re well aware that RFID technol-
ogy seems to be all the rage these days, and in light of the technological advancements
that RFID can provide, many of our customers have inquired as to how they can make
RFID work with their Sunfl ower instance. On their own, RFID solutions can help orga-
nizations streamline their operations and keep better tabs on their assets; all the while
cutting down on the time required to conduct physical inventories. RFID can also be
easily integrated with your Sunfl ower instance to automatically monitor movement of
assets, notify property managers of the movement of sensitive assets, and update asset
records with real-time asset events. But Sunfl ower submits that there are too many
considerations at play to make the decision to purchase RFID an “all or nothing” propo-
sition. Put another way, the question of whether or not to use RFID isn’t a matter of
“Should we or shouldn’t we?” Organizations should instead be asking, “Which combina-
tion of technologies makes the most sense for what we want to accomplish?”
What Can RFID Technology Do?
Before we get into the details, let’s take a look
at some of the functionality RFID can provide.
Depending on the tag type and technology in
use, RFID can provide various capabilities. It
can send an active signal letting you know that
tagged assets are where you expect them to be.
It can tell you the temperature of an asset, or
whether or not the tag on the asset has been
tampered with. It can alert you when an as-
set crosses a particular threshold; or notify you
when asset moves from one room to another.
It can allow for barcode reads to be captured
within a certain distance without line of sight scanning. By integrating RFID with your
Sunfl ower instance, these types of asset events can be captured on the asset’s timeline
and refl ected on the asset’s record, giving you increased visibility into your assets’ life-
cycle. In short, using RFID has the potential to:
Make audits easier and quicker by increasing accuracy and spending less time look-•
ing for assets
Extend useful life of equipment by detecting conditions that might be harmful for •
the equipment
Mitigate potentially harmful situations by detecting unauthorized activity/movement •
of certain types of dangerous or sensitive assets
All this is great, but as you start to look at your organization’s requirements and budget,
you’ll likely discover that while using RFID tags on all of your assets may not be practical
or feasible, you could benefi t from placing tags on some of your assets.
PAGE 1
“RFID can be
easily integrated
with your
Sunfl ower instance
to automatically
monitor movement
of assets, notify
property managers
of the movement
of sensitive assets,
and update asset
records with real-
time asset events. ”
Know what RFID technology can do
Considerations
Before spending money on RFID tags for all of your assets, you should examine the fol-
lowing:
Available RFID solutions•
Cost vs. benefi ts•
Types of assets to be tracked•
Frequency of asset movement•
We’ll discuss each of these considerations in turn below, but it’s important to remember
that there is no silver bullet for using RFID. You’ll need to look within your organization
to determine what your objectives and requirements are and where you’d like to fi nd
effi ciencies.
RFID Solutions
There are many solutions out there, and depending on your needs, you might use them
individually, or in combination with one another:
Mobile Passive RFID – uses Blue-•
tooth technology (handheld scan-
ner or Smartphone) to ‘ping’ for
assets nearby; useful when line-
of-sight barcode scanning is not
practical.
Fixed Passive RFID – RFID readers •
can be set up in various locations
to ‘read’ assets with passive RFID
tags. As an asset crosses a thresh-
old where the reader is located,
the passive RFID tag is activated
and sends a signal signifying the asset has moved.
Mobile Active RFID – portable solution that can be used to discover tagged assets •
located within a certain distance of a barcode reader or Smartphone. Useful for
fi nding assets that aren’t visible.
Fixed Active RFID – Fixed readers are used to regularly detect RFID tagged assets •
within a certain “zone” and monitor movement between zones.
Any asset event that is captured with RFID tags and readers, whether active or passive,
can be interfaced into Sunfl ower as an event, and subsequently refl ected on that asset’s
record. For instance, based on RFID reads, Sunfl ower’s timeline can display where an
asset was, when it was moved and the location it was moved to.
Costs vs. Benefi ts
Let’s face it: RFID technology can be expensive – particularly active solutions whose
tags consistently send out a signal, thereby requiring a powerful battery. But using RFID
tags could potentially save your organization a signifi cant amount of money in the long
run, so you should consider the total lifecycle management costs when evaluating these
technologies.
For instance, if you place passive RFID tags on every server in your server room, consid-
“Sunfl ower’s
timeline can display
where an asset was,
when it was moved
and the location it
was moved to.”
PAGE 2
“A thorough cost/
benefi t analysis of
implementing RFID
in your
organization must
take into account
both initial costs
and long term
benefi ts.”
Sunfl ower Systems and
Sunfl ower Assets are
registered trademarks. Other
names may be trademarks of
their respective owners.
Rev. 11/2010
PAGE 3
er how much more effi cient your physical inventory process would become. You would
need only to wave a scanner within a few feet of the servers and the scanner would
recognize all tagged assets, thus confi rming they are there and subsequently recording
the “fi nd” in Sunfl ower. Another way this technology may save time is when searching
for assets locked in boxes. Instead of opening each box and scanning each bar coded
asset with a bar code reader, you could simply walk near the boxes with a Mobile Ac-
tive RFID reader to confi rm the assets are in the boxes. These scenarios don’t totally
eliminate the need for people, but note that a process that previously took one person
scanning individual assets a couple of days might now take that same person only a few
hours. A thorough cost/benefi t analysis must take into account both initial costs and
long term benefi ts.
Types of Assets
RFID allows you to determine in real-time where an asset is located. But you may not
need to know this for all of your assets – perhaps you only need that information for
those assets that could cause harm to others or contain sensitive data. For example,
someone tracking strains of a biological agent would likely want to know where those
items are at all times, so placing an RFID tag on the cabinet where the vials are stored
might make sense so that one can be alerted when the tag senses movement. But does
it make sense to place RFID tags on your desktop computers? Think of how many desk-
top computers your organization has, and how much it would cost your organization to
tag them with RFID. Sure, it may simplify your physical inventory process, but do you
really need to know right now where your computers are, or be alerted every time one
of your desktop computers moves? Consider instead placing RFID tags only on some of
your computers – perhaps those located in SCIFs (Sensitive Compartmented Informa-
tion Facilities) that contain Top Secret or other sensitive data, or on laptops that contain
sensitive information and are highly mobile. When it comes down to it, you may fi nd in
some cases that your standard bar codes and bar code readers do the trick just fi ne.
Frequency of Movement
It may not make sense to place an RFID tag on an MRI machine or another large, im-
movable piece of property. These things generally don’t move, and it’s easy enough to
confi rm their existence through standard bar code scanners or visual confi rmation. But
if you have sensitive or expensive assets that are highly mobile and require close track-
ing, you may want to consider RFID. You may want to be notifi ed when certain items
cross an established threshold so you can be made aware of unauthorized movement.
Or, you may want to know when someone is trying to smuggle an expensive item off-
site; or that an item has simply moved from one room to another. A large consideration
here is where to place RFID readers: would you want to know when an item leaves a
safe? A room? A building? A campus? As mentioned before, your decision to use RFID
should take into account your specifi c requirements based on organizational processes
and guidelines.
As explained above, several factors should be considered before making the decision to
purchase an RFID solution. You need to fully understand your objectives in implement-
ing RFID; and you need to have a grasp on the costs, long-term benefi ts, types of assets
on hand, and frequency of movement. The technology side of Sunfl ower understands the
solutions available and how they can be integrated with Sunfl ower to work for your or-
ganization; and the property side of Sunfl ower understands which assets should be tagged
to produce the most benefi t for your organization. We encourage you to consider all of
the above before taking the RFID plunge.