| Written by Mark Buzinkay

Asset tracking RFID software enhances machinery and offers a retrofit of older manufacturing set-ups toward industry 4.0 standards.

For a relatively small investment, manufacturing sites can be modernised to an industry 4.0 level and increase efficiency in a relatively short time compared to planning and raising a greenfield project.

Asset tracking RFID software

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Driven by the technological demand for the Internet of Things (IoT), Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) has evolved as a must-have tracking technology for companies that depend heavily on their assets. The ability to connect physical assets to data collection tools such as Asset Tracking Software has proved to be a real game changer.

In the last twenty years, the worldwide usage of asset tracking solutions has peaked throughout the global industries. Manufacturing, logistics, retail, and healthcare sectors may be the most prominent. The global factory asset tracking market share is estimated to be worth more than $35 billion by 2025.

In today's competitive global landscape, manufacturers are looking for new ways to reduce labour costs, reduce material expenses, and limit production mistakes while raising product quality and speed of delivery.

Learn more about how RTLS solutions can streamline your factory production processes.


Expensive manufacturing equipment is the backbone of manufacturing facilities. As a result, managers want a clear picture of the equipment inventory and utilisation to secure efficiency and uptime. Moreover, with increasing competition, attaining lean, proper processes is the industry's ultimate goal. Therefore, manufacturers require accuracy in handling work-in-process and identifying each object in a process flow while keeping stock at a minimum to keep operating costs low.

As a business that relies on the availability of its high-value assets to generate revenue, you comprehend the significance of asset tracking and effective inventory management. Whether stock, tools, IT devices, vehicles, or even employees, it is vital to your plant's productivity.

Although there are different options available to facilitate the process of monitoring and tracking assets, one tracking technology proposes complete efficiency in the most cost-effective manner: RFID.

In its most straightforward form, RFID asset tracking is a method of automating the management and location of physical assets. It operates by loading an RFID tag with data and attaching it to a relevant asset. This data can include anything from name to condition, amount, and location.

The technical idea is that An RFID tag's repeatedly pulsating radio waves allow an RFID reader to capture the stored data. Eventually, the data is collected in a sophisticated asset tracking system, where it can be surveyed and actioned.

The capability to automate your tracking and monitoring processes aims to end the error-prone approaches of pen-and-paper and Excel spreadsheets, among other benefits such as:

  • Monitoring multiple assets simultaneously

  • Avoiding human intervention

  • Collecting data in real-time

  • Enabling asset visibility

  • Locating misplaced assets

  • Maximising accuracy of goods


I talked to Christian Aadal, Product Manager of Asset Agent, about the idea of RFID and making processes better. "The main issue for a manufacturing process is intransparency due to missing information," says Christian Aadal, explaining that when transparency is lacking, employees don't receive the right information to do their work. This leads to poor forecasting abilities, a lack of direction and responsibility, and fragmented and inconsistent processes. "As a result," Aadal adds, "companies run massive risks of making errors, losing money, wasting effort, and alienating vendors or customers."

On the other hand, Aadal points out that when a company runs transparent processes, it can easily make informed decisions, track what is being done within a process, measure team performance and process efficiency, and gain insight into employee, team, and company productivity.

Aadal suggests a solution combining RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and RTLS (Real Time Locating System) technology to benefit the customer's process management. He emphasizes that using wireless technologies eliminates manual work, which always involves a certain amount of insecurity; for instance, scanning the wrong material box or selecting the incorrect tool carrier.

Starting from the ordering stage, Aadal explains, "The supplier of the material will be equipped with an RFID/RTLS transponder (or tag), which can communicate wirelessly with other devices and should also have the option to store some data in its internal data storage." He elaborates that the supplier should store shipment data on the transponder while preparing the shipment, with each item—whether it's a screw, washer, or metal part—being accounted for. If the shipment contains bigger parts, each part can be equipped with a transponder.

Once the shipment enters the customer's site, an RFID gate can detect the transponder, and the data will be sent immediately to the customer's ERP software. Aadal notes, "Deficiencies or wrong deliveries can easily be detected, and the appropriate action will be initiated automatically by the ERP software." The material trolleys will then be moved to the tool carrier or put in stock, and each trolley, still containing the transponder, will send its ID at predefined intervals using active RFID.

Aadal describes how the exact position of the trolley can be determined using RTLS technology, enabling a clear association between the tool carrier and the material trolley. "Each movement of the carrier and/or trolley will be detected and can be made visible on a Client PC as well as on the Server," he says. In summary, Aadal concludes, "RTLS is an asset tracking system."



Utilising Radio-frequency identification for the process of tracking physical 'things' is not a new concept. Over the last 80 years, RFID technology has evolved step by step. A patent for the first RFID tag was drawn up in 1973, IBM invented the first Ultra-High-Frequency (UHF) reader in the 1990s, and Austrian Wilhelm Gantner developed the first active RFID tag simultaneously.

In general, using RFID tracking systems, every item can be identified and tracked in real-time. As the object moves through each area on the staging floor, it is monitored continuously to detect possible errors in the staging line. Of course, all of these processes are automated. But whether used in agriculture (e.g., to track livestock) or in a warehouse, the basic principles of an RFID tracking system are very much the same. First, you'll require the following parts (1):

  • RFID tags (passive, active, or semi-passive)
  • An antenna

  • An RFID reader

  • A computer equipped with Asset Tracking Software


Once the equipment is installed, the RFID asset tracking process can be broken down into four phases:

  • Data is stored on an RFID tag with a unique Electronic Product Code (EPC) and is attached to an asset

  • An antenna recognises the signal of a nearby RFID tag

  • An RFID reader is linked wirelessly to the antenna and receives the data that is recorded on the RFID tag

  • The RFID reader then sends the data to an asset tracking database where it is stored, evaluated, and actioned

The initial procedure is relatively straightforward, depending on how you deploy the RFID asset tracking system. However, various factors must be considered when opting for the proper hardware.

Further reading: Implementing a real time location system



In a nutshell, factory asset tracking software enables you to collect real-time RFID signals, manipulate them using business logic and display essential asset information like location, availability, status, and temporary owner onto a screen. Typically, smart manufacturing includes:

  • Instant access to the critical asset

  • See what assets you have and where they are (e.g. locating vehicles)

  • Book assets in advance and check out (asset management)

  • Manage maintenance and servicing schedules

  • Assign assets to team members and sites


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Image: Typical zone coverage and asset tracking in a manufacturing plant

On a more detailed view, an RTLS asset tracking system provides you with the exact location reported by sensors/tags associated with the asset and, most importantly, the asset event history. The asset event history shows a record of all the events the sensors/tags reported for a specific asset. Then, in real-time, this data is transmitted, for example, to the manufacturing management software of a tyre production line for accurate control of the entire production process.

Advanced tags can also receive data and commands from asset-tracking RFID software. For example, the abovementioned smart manufacturing management software triggers a process by feeding raw material into a container. Then, it transmits a command to the asset tracking software, which forwards it to the specified material container. The tag associated with the material container flashes a red light to inform the worker to pick exactly this container and move it to the processing machine. Once the container arrives at the machine, the reader at the machine transmits the ID signal of the container to the asset tracking RFID software and the asset management software. Another signal is transmitted as soon as the container ends the feeding process and is moved away. All events are recorded and used for the current production process, for quality documentation, for an updated status of full and empty containers and their location, for new work orders to the worker, for a material re-order and much more.

Further reading: RFID for asset tracking


ASSEt tracking for smart manufacturing - TAKEAWAY

Asset tracking RFID software enhances machinery and offers a retrofit of older manufacturing set-ups toward industry 4.0 standards. The necessary parts to build up an IIoT-based production line are RFID hardware (tags and readers) and asset tracking software, including an API to an ERP or manufacturing management software. For a relatively small investment, manufacturing sites can be modernised to an industry 4.0 level and increase efficiency in a relatively short time compared to planning and raising a greenfield project.

RTLS Solutions to streamline your production processes

Extended reading: Real-time locating system and industry 4.0


(1) Encyclopedia Britannica

Note: This article was updated on the 27th of May 2024



Mark Buzinkay, Head of Marketing

Mark Buzinkay holds a PhD in Virtual Anthropology, a Master in Business Administration (Telecommunications Mgmt), a Master of Science in Information Management and a Master of Arts in History, Sociology and Philosophy. Mark