Updated: Mar 10
Asset tagging can reduce losses and increase efficiency but first, you need to ensure your asset tagging project is successful. Implementing an asset tagging program doesn’t have to be a huge challenge but there are some things you need to consider. For a successful asset tagging program considers the following:
Who will perform the asset tagging process?
Are the asset tags being used fit for purpose?
Is the database where the information will be stored built well enough to manage the data correctly?
How will the asset database be managed and updated as you add new assets / remove old assets?
How will the quality of the asset data being input be monitored?
Once you have a full asset database, you need to make sure you benefit from it, what’s the strategy to make the most of your asset management system?
Who will perform the asset tagging process? This is number 1 on the list of asset tagging challenges to consider for a very good reason. As a commercial asset tagging company we’ve seen the results of badly tagged assets, across a number of industries. Your first instinct is probably to use your own staff to perform the task, that would be a natural conclusion. Please don’t, or if you do make sure that point number 5 is actioned, managing the quality of the tagging process is essential. The difference between using a commercial tagging company and internal staff, in many instances but not all, is the quality of the work. There’s often a temptation to use staff who may well see the system as a negative not a positive. Asset tagging is often seen as a big brother system, a security system showing a mistrust of staff, or an opportunity to have less staff. None of these things will help your asset tagging process. Other companies have used agency staff to perform the tagging, again not a good plan, we’ve seen the results, they are generally not good. Bear in mind that your asset register is only as good as the data entered into it, if it’s wrong then the whole thing is useless. Are the asset tags being used fit for purpose? There are systems available which will help you ensure that, where RFID tags are being used, they will work efficiently with the specific assets being tagged. We would strongly suggest that the tags, whether RFID or other, are checked for their robustness in terms of both their adhesion and, in the case of RFID particularly, their readability when attached to your specific assets. Tags come in many forms and are built to different standards. Though the price may not guarantee quality the cheaper the tag the more likely they are to have a poor quality adhesive. For RFID tags there are many things to take into account; Is it RFID only? Does it have a barcode? How good is the adhesive? Does the tag read well when attached to your assets? Do you need a variety of tags for a variety of assets? Think carefully about the options available, price Vs usability and robustness. Is the database where the information will be stored built well enough to manage the data correctly? Perhaps you are building your own database to manage your assets, perhaps you are buying one in. The key is to ensure that what you’re going to use is fit for purpose, and capable of scaling as you grow or your assets increase. The range of systems available is considerable, but many (and we mean many) have proven to be poorly put together and not fit for purpose. Particularly in the RFID asset management market many systems purchased by early adopters have done little more than put those early adopters off RFID altogether. What’s been the problem? In short, RFID has been seen as a technology that will do a job traditionally done by barcodes, better, quicker and more easily. But that only works if the system managing the data is good enough. Some of the issues are made clear by the way the RFID market has moved over the past 5 years or so. A comparison between the huge uptake of RFID in the library sector Vs the uptake across most other industries explains a lot. The difference is that the library systems are purely a conduit between the item / asset and the library management system. Whereas other industries have had both the RFID tag and the database managing the information created by RFID companies. And that’s the problem, some of those companies have created systems that simply don’t do the job. There are now a number of very good systems that have been built on not just RFID technology but advanced database technology. This provides an asset management system fit for purpose. One example that shows the difference between modern and older systems, today there are systems that operate predictive algorithms which analyse the data and predict asset issues (things like lack of asset availability based on historical movement and demand). That’s a million miles away from the basic databases incapable of adequately managing assets that have been purchased over the past 5 years. How will the asset database be managed and updated as you add new assets / remove old assets? There are many benefits to managing your assets effectively. But, you will need to continue that management with precision. Again the output of any database is only as good as the information going into it, keep up with that and you’ll be on top of your asset management, don’t do that and your asset management system will be close to useless. How will the quality of the asset data being input be monitored? This section deals with both the initial tagging of your assets and the ongoing process to tag new assets. It is absolutely imperative that there is a quality assurance system in place during any asset tagging and data input. There are a two things that need covering here;
The tag positioning / placement on the asset
The data being applied to the asset record
The positioning is more important on some assets than others. It would be our advice to create a tagging manual with images showing the correct tag placement for any and all assets being monitored. Someone needs to be monitoring that placement. Part of the monitoring, based on the responsible QA person not monitoring each and every tag placement, is a record of who tagged and when they tagged each asset. This should be able to be applied automatically through the asset management system. If not you’ll need to create a method to ensure you manage this element, leaving it to chance will harm your overall implementation. Secondly the data needs a Quality Assurance process too. This will depend heavily on whether the system your implementing includes a reporting function. On some of the systems we use this is in-built, in some it is not. Where it’s not we apply an additional process to manage the quality of the data input. Someone needs to be interrogating the data in a quick but effective fashion to ensure that the input information is uniform and correct. Once you have a full asset database you need to ensure you benefit from it, what’s the strategy to make the most of your asset management system? We have little to say about this part of the asset management process. It’s beyond our remit, what we do know is that those organisations that maximise the benefit of the system are great advocates of asset management, and those that don’t…………