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Should You Consider Going DIY on RFID? No, and Here’s Why…

by Peck Sidara

The Problem

You are a manufacturer of premium noise-canceling headphones. While your brand’s headphones rival those of the leading headphones, they also sell for roughly half of what your competitors are charging. The cups in your headphones are crafted from exotic woods and customers can have their headphones laser-engraved for a small up-charge.

Smartly, you patented the advanced circuitry found in your line of headphones and sales are going through the roof. To put it in economics terms, there are some serious Schumpeterian rents to enjoy. The achievements of you and your team of engineers and developers are congratulating each other on a job well done. But, as business analysts and weightlifters will inform you, where there is growth, there is pain.

To keep up with the increased demand for your product, your production facility is now operating 24 hours a day, and the holidays are just around the corner. To ensure your brand maintains its reputation for stellar stereophonic sound, you invest in expensive tools and equipment for your production and quality assurance departments. But, a recurring problem is that tools and equipment are getting damaged, lost, and not being calibrated as often as they should. Your continual capital reinvestment in equipment and tools are threatening your profit margins. Meanwhile, production output occasionally grinds to a halt as supervisors and employees waste time searching for and sharing tools, not to mention all that time devoted to calibrating and testing equipment.

The Solution

You decide to implement an asset tracking initiative using RFID technology to track who had the asset last, where it is, where it should be, and when it needs to be calibrated. A bonus would be the ability to check out tools and equipment to employees on an as needed basis for each shift.

You’ve got a sharp team of engineers that have successfully developed and launched projects way more complicated than this, so you decide to purchase all of the needed equipment and implement the tracking system on your own. How hard can it be?

  • There are a multitude of RFID tag suppliers. You pick one based on a few compatibility questions.
  • There are several well-known, branded RFID reader manufacturers. You pick one that is middle range in price, the right color, and backed with a warranty.
  • There are commercially off the shelf antennas you can install throughout the facility and at exit points to track last known location and whether your assets are leaving the building. You talk to a customer service rep and choose one of those as well.
  • Next, you need software to enroll assets, check assets in and out of inventory, do inventory, report and log maintenance schedules. Wow, so many open source and low-cost options! You select one that gets great reviews, has development tools, and has someone to reach out to in case of questions.

You feel pretty good about yourself and your project, except...

One Month Later... Uh Oh, the Solution is Creating Problems…

Some RFID tags don’t scan at all when they’re placed on the asset. They seem to scan just fine when placed in open air, or on a table. Is the RFID signal reflecting, deflecting or attenuated? What's going on here?

Antennas throughout facility and exit points aren’t working correctly; they’re not picking up tag reads when assets pass by. Is the problem in the tag, tuning of antenna, location of tag on assets and how it passes under (or by) an antenna? Antennas are also picking up too many reads, bogging down network traffic.

Then there’s inventory; you’re picking up tag reads from assets located in adjacent rooms. What now? Who can help? The “solution” is creating unforeseen problems, and you are realizing that RFID isn’t as straightforward as you previously assumed.

You Need Asset Tracking Professionals

Managers, supervisors and employees aren’t accepting the newly implemented solution. The general opinion is that the new software is difficult to use and not in sync with production workflow processes. The software on the RFID reader doesn’t sync with the newly developed software your team has written. The screen size of reader is too small to add assets, edit maintenance notes, or log inventory counts efficiently.

Some organizations have had great success implementing their own RFID asset tracking solution. But conversely, many end up investing a lot of time and resources only to find themselves beholden to errors, malfunctions and wasted time spent troubleshooting.

The truth is, there are too many things that can go wrong when trying to implement your own asset tracking solution.

What You Should Have Done

Do what you do best and leave RFID asset management and inventory to the experts at EnaSys. There is no asset tracking dilemma that EnaSys cannot solve, no industry it cannot benefit, and no asset it cannot track. Ease your mind by presenting us with your asset tracking need, and letting us create a solution. It's what we do best.

Contact our asset tracking professionals today.

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