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RFID Tagging, what does it cost to tag assets?

What does RFID tagging cost is a big question, with a n

umber of answers, we’ll do our best.

There are some variables which need describing first, this will help to explain what drives the cost of RFID tagging.

There are also a number of ways to get the tagging done, they will have different cost implications and different quality implications. We’ll cover that later.

Let’s start with the cost, what are the variables and how do they effect the cost?

Variable 1 – the type of asset being tagged

Many industries utilise RFID and they all have different challenges for tagging, individual companies within those industries will have their own specific challenges. But we can classify assets for tagging purposes in 4 ways:

  • The assets are ready and waiting to be tagged, in abundant supply, and pretty simple to process. Think library books, patient records or clothes in a retail apparel store (the ones in the store not coming from the distribution network). Average time to tag per asset, under 1 minute. Let’s call this group Tagging Group A

  • The assets are ready and waiting to be tagged, in abundant supply, but not so simple to process. Think a large site with 100’s of power tools, or a hospital with 100’s of pieces of expensive equipment. Average time to tag per asset, under 5 minutes. Let’s call this group Tagging Group B

  • The assets are spread about, difficult to locate (or access) and are in limited supply, a small amount of high value assets. Think JCB type assets, or heavy machinery. Average time to tag per asset, including locating, 30 minutes +. Let’s call this group Tagging Group C

  • There are various assets, in various locations, with various levels of access. Some are easy to tag some are not so easy. The variety in asset type and location is the challenge. Think engineering company with large and small assets across multiple sites. Let’s call this Tagging Group D.

So we have our asset group, A through D, now to how those variables effect the RFID tagging price.

Tagging Group A is the cheapest per item tagging price. the assets are available and simple to process. All the skill is in correctly preparing the project and implementing efficiently. Quality control is essential as the high volume repetitive nature of the task makes it higher risk in terms of errors.

Depending on the actual assets and the tagging process being utilised you could expect to pay somewhere between £0.08 pence per item and £0.22 pence per item.


At the £0.08 per item range you would have a very high volume of assets, in a single location, very easy to process and no disruption to the process.

At the £0.22 pence per item range you would have a small amount of assets, most other conditions would match the 8p pricing, volume would be the key differentiator.

At all the levels in between these prices there are effecting variables:

  • Are all the assets at a single site

  • Is access available easily and for at least 10 hours per day

  • Is the data entry limited to a single scan, or is there some manual data entry required

  • Are there any conditions effecting productivity levels

Tagging Group B is governed by mostly the same conditions as Tagging Group A. The main differential is the time it takes to process each item.



Pricing could be anywhere from £0.22 pence to £10.00 per item depending on various factors. The key factors involved with this group are the time to tag each asset, including the data input requirement, and other factors around processing.

  • How many assets can be tagged in an hour / day

That is the key variable, it’s all about productivity.

Tagging Group C has other factors to take into account.

The challenges around tagging group c means the price per asset tagged is higher than groups A and B. Locating the asset, actually tagging it, travel between assets and skills required are the key factors.


Pricing for these assets is highly individual to the project, but for a guide we can assume anywhere between £5 per asset and £20 per asset. factors to consider:

  • How many assets can be tagged per day

  • What skills does the tagging operative require, do they need to be acquainted with the asset type or do they need to be capable of dismantling it

  • How much dead time will effect the process, equipment in use stopping the process or other delays. Some assets are too high return to take out of operation outside of normal procedures

Tagging Group C is very industry / company specific. A detailed plan is required to price accurately.

Tagging Group D, the variety category, lots of assets of different types spread across a number of sites.


The variables for this group are too wide to price with any accuracy. it could be that the volume at each site reduces the price per asset to tagging group B levels, it could be more tagging group c levels of pricing.

We’d suggest that you need a discussion with us on this to ascertain where the pricing brackets would be.

Other factors to do with RFID asset tagging pricing.

Using your own staff, agency staff or a commercial tagging company.

The RFID tagging cost will vary across the three options for RFID asset tagging staff. The key factors to account for are productivity levels and quality control.

You could reasonably expect that productivity levels would be on a curve like the graph below:


The commercial tagging company specialises in RFID tagging, hence their productivity rates are classed as 100%. utilising your own staff will be more efficient than agency staff, they are more dedicated to the company and the result of the work, but, they are not necessarily the best people to do this type of work. Agency staff are unlikely to be a stakeholder in the result of the project, their incentive for productivity is low.

The costs for each option are effected by these productivity levels. The calculations are simple to make:

Own staff: Cost per hour/ day divided by items tagged per hour / day = cost per item

Agency staff: Same calculation, less tagged per hour / day

Commercial taggers: Cost per item provided

There are a couple of key differences here. To calculate your cost per item utilising your own or agency staff you’ll need to estimate the productivity levels. Getting this as close as possible to the actual is imperative, overestimating productivity could cause the project to be significantly over budget. The opposite is of course true, but being under budget will be a pat on the back, over budget somewhat more difficult.

The other key difference, don’t forget to include the management of the project, from planning though execution and quality control, for the own staff and agency staff options. if you’re using a commercial tagging company this cost should be included in the cost per item.

A commercial tagging company will only charge for the items actually processed, providing an audit trail to back up their invoice.

Project Timelines

To forecast a timeline for any of the tagging groups discussed would be difficult without more information, but we have some real project examples:

  • 1m items processed over 8 months across 52 sites (Tagging Group A)

  • 535 items over 2 days (Tagging Group C)

  • 5,600 items over 1 day (Tagging Group A)

  • 78 items over 1 day (Tagging Group D)

This reflects the broad range of RFID implementation projects across a number of industries. Staffing levels for these projects will of course differ, in line with per person productivity.

That per person productivity is the key to calculating project timelines. There are two ways to go, decide on the timeline and apply staff to achieve it, or apply the team you have available and forecast the timeline which meets that teams productivity levels. The most difficult element, estimating those productivity levels ahead of the project.

Estimating productivity. This will depend on a number of factors:

  • The asset group (A,B,C or D)

  • Your teams available time per day

  • The type of staff you have available, some will embrace a repetitive task some will not

  • Sickness, holidays

  • The teams other responsibilities and the likelihood of distraction

  • How the process itself is designed

  • Risk assessments and possible H&S concerns

As a company dedicated to the RFID tagging we operate an internal process to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity across all our tagging projects. We call this process: Optimised Cognitive Labour. Please feel free to use this model to assist in ensuring your teams work optimally.



Quality control, the cost of not managing it correctly.

THE SINGLE BIGGEST RISK TO YOUR PROJECT IS BAD QUALITY CONTROL!

Any RFID system stands and falls on the data that has been applied against the individual asset. Therefor, if the data going in is bad then the system is effectively useless. The actual cost implication for not managing the quality control is the same as the total cost of the project.

Part of the total cost for a commercial RFID tagging company to perform the work is to cover the quality control of the process. It is important to apply some budget to that element of the work if it’s being completed by internal or agency staff. And when i say ‘some budget’, i mean a considerable part of the budget.

Getting this bit wrong is your single biggest risk.

As a tagging company we have been to a number of projects where the work had been done incorrectly by internal or agency staff. The repair process meant each item required checking and re-programming correctly. Though not all were incorrect, perhaps in the region of 30%, that still meant that the system was effectively useless.

Budget for quality control, build a plan and enforce it, diligently!

Summary

We’ve categorised assets in 4 groups, Tagging groups A, B, C and D. Each group has its own unique challenges and therefor cost implications. The guide pricing may require adjustments against any organisations unique asset type and distribution.

The scale of the pricing could be anything from £0.08 pence per item to £20 per item.

The costs will be different dependent upon how you allocate a team to perform the work. For internal teams cost may be swallowed up as standard operating costs, but that may effect normal business operations, it may also not be the most effective way of implementing RFID.

Using agency / temporary staff is another option. That comes with its own challenges and can cause more issues than a reduced budget justifies. Especially when you consider the final point, quality control, getting it wrong can effectively cost the total budget without the end result of having a working system.

We would suggest a commercial tagging company is your best option, but we are biased of course. There is no doubt that most companies are capable of completing an RFID tagging project, the question is whether you want to.

Timeline is another factor in the equation. As is forecasting the timeline, project slippage due to lack of experience is a very real concern. Planning the process and applying the right team is essential.

Quality control, the single most important element of RFID implementation. Getting it wrong is not an option.

We would class ourselves as insurance for your RFID implementation. By using our services you ensure that the project is implemented quickly and most importantly correctly.

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