Weapons & Armory Asset Tracking with RFID

by Peck Sidara

Recently, EnaSys partnered with a U. S. military base seeking to improve compliance, accountability, and reduce liabilities associated with personnel-issued armaments. They needed a solution that mitigated risks associated with lost or stolen assets. The other half of this project was to reduce the amount of time it takes to conduct inventory, track asset lifecycles, as well as collect and analyze the associated data for future audits.

An armory essentially operates as a 24-hour secured vault. These facilities are constructed with concrete walls, high-tech surveillance equipment, steel security bars, and reinforced windows at armament-issuing stations, as well as a two-step, double-door entry process. The thick walls and steel make it difficult — not impossible — to create a wireless network. These armories house tasers, M4s, M9s, M240s, ammunition, staff-owned armaments, as well as a number of other assets. Likewise, the armory staff is also armed with their own standard issue weapons.

With all these layers of protection in place, typically the only two ways a security breach can occur are through intentional sabotage and human error. No human is perfect and when an organization loses a laptop, it’s concerning. When a military base or police department loses a handgun or riffle, it’s alarming.

According to a 2017 news report by KSAT out of San Antonio, An audit of the Antonio Police Department Training Academy found inventory controls to be ineffective, inefficient, and in non-compliant with policies and guidelines set forth by the SAPD. During the audit, a single 9 mm handgun could not be accounted for. The department scoured, inventoried, and interviewed to no avail. The missing handgun led to a quirk of procedure where the SAPD had to file a police report on themselves. The article goes on to indicate several corrective measures were taken, but did not disclose full detail on resolution.

Read more: Arthur, Myra (2017, Sept 19); Audit finds “sloppy housekeeping” at SAPD gun armory. Retrieved from KSAT.

The Challenge:

The workflow at the armory relied heavily on manual processes:

  • Identifying personnel at issuing window.
  • Cross referencing a certification / certified for use spreadsheet.
  • Referencing a do not arm list due to medical condition, medication or other factors.
  • Inventories using traditional pen and paper.

Although their current processes worked and staff was efficient. There were opportunities for error and greater opportunity for improvement.

The Solution:

Engineered Data Products introduced our RFID armory management solution to the armory leadership group and the potential was immediately realized. The consultation process involved understanding their current work flow and observing their processes and procedures. The goal: implement a total RFID solution that would seamlessly integrate and surpass initial requirements. With EnaSys already being an established force in the government asset tracking realm, the team was confident that a solution would be quickly reached.

A variety of small, made-for-RFID tags were sourced by EDP and tested in-house prior to deployment. Robust package, strong read range and size were considering factors. Omni ID’s Fit 220 HT, Fit 400 HT and Xerafy SlimTrak tags were selected for their performance. RFID tags were placed in a discrete location, out of way of moving parts and wear locations. A combination of self-adhesive backing and a 2-part epoxy assures tags are permanently affixed to the armaments.

Laptops with EnaSys Professional and a mobile RFID/barcode reader at each issuing station provided a more accurate method of confirming the identity of personnel, view of certificates of use and restriction list, full inventory and history of assets. Multiple EnaSys handheld RFID/barcode readers with large 10” Windows tablets preloaded with EnaSys Professional mirrored the data on the laptops and provided the same full and clear view of assets and users.

If personnel are not authorized, certified or restricted from use, check sums within EnaSys would prevent the asset from being checked out. With RFID tags affixed on each asset, inventory times have been reduced by 80%, making it much easier to inventory more frequently than before.

Our RFID armory management software a proven solution for the armories of military bases and law enforcement organizations worldwide. For these organizations, replacing outdated manual inventory and asset tracking processes with RFID technology results in enhanced compliance and accountability, better record keeping, and faster inventory.

Whether your assets are armaments, laptops, servers, artwork or tooling, our weapons and equipment tracking system tells you what you have, where it is, and who had it last.

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