The benefits of using RFID for asset tracking and management have been well explored and defined, such as:
- Locating assets in real-time
- Reducing inventory
- Eliminating time wasted searching for equipment
- Reducing rental costs by clearly measuring utilization
- Optimizing maintenance rounds
- Automating alerts/notifications based on events
For example, think of a certain type of asset such as pipe line that enters a restricted area. With asset tracking solutions we are able to monitor this in real time, sound the alarm and dispatch security to remedy the situation.
A cost effective solution is one that leverages the same solution for both personnel safety and asset management.
An example of this type of solution being utilized for asset management and personnel safety is BP and their collaboration with Zebra Enterprises. In a program called PALM – Personnel and Asset Location Management – its purpose is to augment, enhance, and provide a tool to monitor adherence to advanced safety procedures and guidelines. BP implemented this solution in their facility in Houma, Louisiana that is used as a parts and equipment facility supporting BP's Gulf of Mexico off shore oil rigs.
The facility has a large number of visitors and contractors conducting dangerous cleaning and repair operations requiring strict adherence to safety procedures and close monitoring of visitor movement by staff.
With the automated state of the art safety system that BP staff have, visitors are tracked and ensured that they do not enter unauthorized areas or leave authorized waiting areas so that BP can focus on their core business.
If a particular area in the facility is under maintenance, workers are able to establish it as a restricted zone simply by placing a single tag safety cone in that area. The RFID tagged cone is detected by the system and automatically creates a virtual boundary. When unauthorized personnel attempt to cross into this work zone a warning is sent out.
In addition to being able to track personnel and monitor various areas of the facility a solution such as this would be able to track assets. In a maintenance facility such as in the BP example this would include parts, knowing where particular parts are located or when a crucial part is set to arrive at the facility, and also tools, in particular reducing shrinkage of expensive tools that are used in such a facility.
Like personnel, equipment can be tracked through the facility in real time. Using a portal system the location of equipment can be tracked entering or leaving the facility or certain areas of the facility. Monitoring can be done easily through an alert system that can notify employees when an important piece of equipment arrives, or if a particular piece is entering the incorrect area of the facility.
In combining an RFID solution to track both personnel and assets companies like BP are able to reap even more benefits from RFID technologies in efficient and cost effective ways.