Barcodes and RFID (radio-frequency identification) are critical elements of many asset tracking industries. From healthcare to education, and manufacturing to security, each track and trace technology brings different strengths to the table. Many businesses and organizations leverage both options for the most benefit. Here’s why:
Tracking operations can require individual handling of assets as well as large-scale inventory events. Consider patient charts, for example. Patient charts must be kept secure in compliance with HIPPA. Barcode scanning allows individual doctors and nurses to easily access patient information from a chart held in hand. However, when the time comes to inventory patient charts, the barcodes fall short.
One healthcare provider we work with at EnaSys illustrates this problem well. Taking inventory of 300k patient charts took multiple weeks covering three shifts with three to four people. Physically scanning the barcodes of each chart proved to be a time-consuming manual process. RFID simplified the task, allowing one person to complete the work in just six hours. Considering the cost of dedicating multiple personnel to perform inventory for days, RFID provided significant savings and accuracy!
In a situation similar to the healthcare provider’s, another client’s IT center we work with once spent 422 hours physically auditing their servers. After implementing RFID, the audit now takes less than 15 hours, an improvement of 96%.
Part of the problem is in the physical task of scanning server barcodes. Multiple facilities, each with many floors, were only the first hurdle. Each server rack needed to be opened for scanning, and many required a bit of crawling and moving of cables to scan the barcode while the servers were active. Accidentally unplugging a device meant potentially shutting down a critical operation; the task was risky and stressful.
RFID implementation massively improved this process. Servers are now inventoried in batches from several feet away, without having to risk disconnecting a cable free. At the same time, barcodes still allow technicians to work on servers and track their maintenance history or movements as needed.
Obviously, barcodes have their place. They allow individuals interacting with a single asset to confirm the interaction and add it to the asset’s tracking history. Yet, there are some situations where assets make critical movements untracked by barcodes.
As an example, let’s revisit the healthcare provider. Their improved RFID inventory method revealed that several patient charts had gone missing. Without RFID tags and scanners, there was no way to ascertain the last physical location of each chart. Anyone could have picked one up, failed to scan the barcode, and moved it or even taken it out of the building. With RFID, the healthcare provider now knows where charts are, who has them, and when they moved past strategically placed scanners.
Dual Function RFID-Barcode Tracking: The Best of Both Worlds
Utilizing both barcodes and RFID saves time and money, simplifies tasks, and provides more accurate asset tracking. At EnaSys, we help organizations smoothly transition to this improved method. Contact us today to find out how or to learn more about our inventory management software!