Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has been in existence for some time. However, it isn’t until recently that RFID has been utilized in facilities management. Misconceptions of high costs or complicated implementations have kept this technology from being effectively utilized to its fullest potential. This article takes an in-depth look at RFID trends.

How does RFID work for Facilities Management?

RFID is a technology that can be used for location tracking and a multitude of other aspects. For example, Wal-Mart uses it to control its inventory. Through a program interface, they know how many pallets are on the loading dock or the exact quantities of a specific product. These can be updated in real-time from the same interface to get very accurate counts or reports. RFID surpasses barcodes in the sense that inventory handlers do not need to “scan in” the location when inventory is moved.

For facilities management that uses a CMMS for work order generation, there could be a lag time from when the work order is printed to when it gets into a technician’s hands. In that time, the asset may be moved or it might have already been put out of service by another technician. RFID integration coupled with an online solution would help make the process more efficient by providing real-time location tracking and eliminating the need to search for or find mobile assets.

An example of a mobile asset would be a hospital wheelchair or utility cart. RFID can provide helpful locations, but also a security function. Imagine an alarm triggered when an asset is moved outside a specific area or a specific building. When it comes to maintaining assets or facilities, RFID has the potential to be a fantastic resource.

A Tale of Two Technologies: Active RFID vs. Passive RFID

It is important to know that, while they share the same acronym, both active and passive RFID systems are very different in nature. Essentially, the main difference between the two types of systems lies in the power source. Active RFID tags use an internal battery while passive RFID tags do not have a battery and are “powered up” as they pass by a reader. The active tags require maintenance of their power supply while passive tags do not. Active RFID tags have higher production/maintenance costs as opposed to their passive counterparts, although active tags have a larger range. Overall, passive RFID tags can be smaller (“sticker-sized”) and provide for increased flexibility when utilized in the proper environment, such as a hospital or other large facility that contains many moveable assets.

Courtesy: Aucxis, 2021. 

Why use passive RFID and how it can benefit facilities and maintenance management?

Although the higher initial cost of the transceivers/readers could be looked at as an obstacle, it is important to note that the life-cycle cost of passive RFID is much less. While the differences between the two types of technologies may seem daunting, Proteus MMX™ with mthree™ provides for low-cost/low maintenance asset tracking in real-time.

Getting started is even easier thanks to Dataflo and its core competency of RFID/hardware installation and implementation. Dataflo will determine the precise tracking requirements as well as all hardware requirements related to transceivers, tags, etc. Dataflo’s onsite visits and consultations allow the number of transceivers and tags to be minimized and kept within your specifications and budget. Once the system has been implemented, maintenance and operations costs are minimized and all you have to do is use it to track your assets!

What is the five-node system?

The five-node system is what we call our location hierarchy. When Eagle Technology and Dataflo develop a strategy, the team develops an organizational structure that breaks down the location provided by the RFID tag. For example, a hospital’s IV tree may be located on a multi-building campus. By “pinging” the RFID tag, the five-node system will be able to locate the asset by which building, what floor, what room number, and even the area of the room.

This same location-tree breakdown can be applied to arena venues, manufacturing facilities, educational campuses, and the like.

How does RFID help me manage assets?

Implementing a CMMS solution with RFID capabilities opens new doors to easier and more cost-effective ways to maintain and manage your organizations’ assets. Couple this with a detailed location tree like Proteus MMX and mthree’s five-node system, and you gain access to an amazing loss-prevention tool. The ability to better manage inventory control and asset allocation appears right at your fingertips.

Many organizations, especially healthcare facilities, often run into problems with easily manageable issues like over-ordering, misplacement, and hoarding by employees. In a busy hospital, particular assets like IV trees or wheelchairs are in high demand. Often these items are hoarded by employees so that their department does not run out at an inopportune time; meanwhile, another department does not have enough. By running a simple query, the location of every wheelchair or IV tree can be displayed in real-time. Now those high-demand assets can be allocated properly, as well as located in case of an emergency.

In the case of security, high-priced items like laptops, projectors, and mobile ultrasound machines could be a large monetary loss if one was removed or misplaced. Many educational facilities worry about these types of assets being removed from a department or the campus, but RFID can ease that concern. Real-time RFID tracking provides the current location of all of your assets and can trigger alarms when that item is leaving its designated range. A detailed location tree, like the five-node system, allows you to decide if an assets range is as small as an area in a room or as large as the entire campus.

RFID systems can benefit just about every industry and can be used in so many ways. Media carts in office buildings or colleges are often shared by a whole department or floor. With an RFID solution, your employees don’t have to spend an hour running from room to room, or calling everyone in that department to find out who has it and where. Proteus MMX and mthree together can protect assets from loss and theft, save time when maintenance is needed, aid in the allocation of assets, and reduce costs caused by over-ordering.

 Tying Up Loose Ends: An RFID Wrap-up

The goal of this blog article is simply to engage and educate a broad audience and share some insights on how RFID can be utilized with a maintenance management solution to improve efficiency and lower costs. By taking a step back and posing a few questions, the cause for RFID implementation can be further justified

· WHO monitors my assets?

· WHAT assets are currently in maintenance?

· WHERE can I find a specific asset?

· WHEN was the asset last moved/utilized?

· WHY am I missing certain assets?

· HOW can I increase efficiency and reduce costs?

The use and implementation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology have been spreading like wildfire. Its use allows executive management from numerous industries to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Facilities management is a perfect industry in which the exploitation of RFID technology is extremely valuable, offering a high return.

We at Eagle Technology pride ourselves on our commitment to YOU! By basing our development pipeline and lifecycle on customer feedback, we provide an exceptional level of service and satisfaction.

For Every Problem, there is a Solution…

On behalf of Eagle Technology, Inc. and our partners, we would like to extend an invitation to contact us as we journey down the innovative path of RFID-based technologies. One of the most important aspects of this process has been our intense focus on implementing a solution that will improve efficiency and reduce costs. By exploiting the synergies and core competencies of Eagle Technology and Dataflo, we wholeheartedly intend to help your organization maximize your return on investment. We stand proudly behind our product and hope you will, too!

Contact us at +1 (262) 241-3845, send an email, or schedule a demo if you have any questions or comments.