| Written by Mark Buzinkay

The deployment of an Automatic Identification System transponder in manufacturing marks a stride towards optimal asset tracking and management. This comprehensive system, pivotal for Industry 4.0, leverages a blend of RFID technology and advanced software to monitor and manage physical assets essential for operational efficiency. With asset identification and tracking being a critical aspect of an organisation's bottom line and compliance, the Automatic Identification transponder enhances visibility, reduces the risk of asset loss, and facilitates preventive maintenance. This not only streamlines production planning but also substantially curtails downtime. Tailored to meet diverse industry needs, the system underscores the significance of precise asset identification and real-time tracking in fostering a competitive edge in today's market.
Automatic Identification System Transponder

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A Definition of Asset Identification

Consider all of your physical assets, and there are many. Therefore, it is important to enhance asset identification practices. Asset identification, sometimes called asset management, is how you track your physical assets like carriers, containers, bobbins, or tools and vehicles, whether you scan barcode labels attached to them or use GPS or RFID tags that broadcast their identity. Asset identification is just as important as managing your inventory because you need to know the identity, location, status, maintenance schedule, and other important information about your organisation's physical assets. Indeed, asset identification is essential to your organisation's bottom line and compliance, as you are responsible for locating and replacing lost or missing physical assets, as well as those that have come to the end of their lifecycle.


How Does It Work? Methods of Automatic Identification of Assets

While asset identification can be time-consuming and expensive, there are methods of asset identification that can save time and money. The goal of any automatic identification system, therefore, is to maximise asset control efficiency and lean processes and minimise equipment loss. Using automatic identification system transponders, readers and asset management software, you can identify your assets automatically in real-time, resulting in more efficient production planning and reduced downtime. Complete asset identification solutions include RFID technology, enabling organisations to read their fixed assets to perform operations accurately, digitally and according to a production operating system (read more about RTLS tags)

Barcodes are the standard for data collection and asset tracking, giving each asset a unique identifier so that they may be individually recognised and tracked. Barcodes include information that is critical to business, such as project name, asset category, and more. Barcode scanners read each barcode, allowing organisations to count assets more quickly and accurately without the risk of introducing human error.


Asset Identification Technologies

Automatic identification of assets is a great way to trace non-fixed objects and determine their exact location and purpose. It's used in many industries, and manufacturing companies or warehouses can especially benefit from it. Automatic identification system transponders help to optimise workflows, increase overall efficiency and reduce costs to stay competitive in the market.

Finding the suitable auto identification technology for your business isn't always easy, as a wide range of asset tracking technologies are available. Which one is the best choice for you depends on your individual needs. There is no "one size fits it all". While some technologies only work outdoors, others were specifically developed for indoor. Some have very high accuracy, others don't. So before choosing an asset tracking solution, ask yourself: What are your objectives? Which setting do you want to use it in? And what are your specific pain points you need to keep in mind?


RFID Asset Identification System Transponder

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) uses radio waves to identify and track assets equipped with RFID transponders. RFID tags inhabit distinctive identifiers that can be detected and read by RFID readers or scanners. This technology allows for quick and automated asset identification and tracking, eliminating the need for manual data entry. RFID asset identification is suitable for various industries, such as retail, manufacturing, and healthcare, where efficient inventory management and item-level tracking are essential. Compared to GPS, RFID has a shorter range but offers better accuracy for asset identification in close proximity. 

RFID asset identification is a unique process of tracking business assets such as stock, equipment, and inventory through hardware such as readers and tags. It works by "loading" an RFID transponder with data (ID, condition, quantity, and location) and mounting it to the relevant asset. Then, an RFID reader captures the stored data through an RFID tag's repeatedly pulsating radio waves. It collects that data in an asset identification system (such as Asset Agent), where it is monitored and actioned.

RFID asset identification aims to put an end to error-prone methods like pen-and-paper and Excel spreadsheets and provides advantages such as:

  • Collecting data in real-time
  • Enhancing asset visibility
  • Eradicating human intervention
  • Tracking numerous assets at any one time
  • Finding lost or misplaced assets
  • Maximising accuracy of inventory


Driven by the technological leaps of the Internet of Things (IoT), Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) has evolved into a must-have identification technology for organisations that rely heavily on their assets. In the last 20 years, the adoption of asset-identification solutions has peaked worldwide. With the Manufacturing, Logistics, Retail, and Healthcare sectors leading the charge, the global asset tracking market share is estimated to be worth $36.3 billion by 2025 (read more about car logistics at Volkswagen).


How Does RFID Automatic Identification Work?

Whether being used in agriculture to track livestock or in a warehouse to monitor a manufacturer's supply chain, the basic principles of how an RFID Automatic Identification system works are very much the same. First, you'll need the correct components:

  • RFID Tags (Passive, Active, or Semi-Passive)
  • An Antenna
  • An RFID Reader
  • A computer database equipped with Asset Identification Software


Once the right equipment is in place, the RFID asset identification process can be split into four stages:

  1. Data is stored on an RFID tag with a unique Electronic Product Code (EPC) and is attached to an asset
  2. An antenna identifies the signal of a nearby RFID tag
  3. An RFID reader is connected wirelessly to the antenna and receives the data that is stored on the RFID tag
  4. The RFID reader then transmits the data to an asset database where it is stored, evaluated, and actioned


The initial process is relatively straightforward, depending on how you deploy your RFID asset identification system. However, varying factors need to be considered when choosing the right hardware.


What Are the Different Levels of Frequency for RFID?

Another aspect to consider regarding an RFID asset identification system is the frequency output of RFID tags. As frequency output can alter the size, cost, and communication quality between transponders and readers, knowing which is best for your tracking requirements is essential.

Low Frequency:

  • Frequency range between 125-134 kHz
  • Long-wavelength penetrates solid materials and high water content
  • Signal range limited to up to 10cm

High Frequency

  • Frequency of 13.65 MHz
  • Penetrates metal objects and medium-to-high water content
  • Short signal range and typically limited to 1 meter
  • Commonly used for tracking small assets and inventory

Ultra-High Frequency

  • Frequency of 433 and 860-960 MHz
  • Greater read-range of up to 150 meters
  • Faster data transfer speeds than Low and High-frequency RFID tags
  • Shorter wavelengths make it unlikely to pass signals through metal or water
  • Commonly used to transmit data on more than one asset at once with fast data transfer speeds


Example: Industrial Active Transponder

An Industrial Active Transponder (like i-Q350L R from Identec Solutions) enables automatic identification of assets. In manufacturing, one way to use this potential is to identify material carriers in front of a machine to check if this is the correct machine/carrier to be involved in the process at this particular time. Finished products can also be tagged and easily identified not by their visual difference but by their electronic ID. Another business case is to understand where assets are (identification and localisation combined). 

Such an Automatic Identification System Transponder is designed for robust and versatile asset tracking and identification. Typically, it operates in two distinct modes: a 350 Broadcast and response communication mode with a read range of up to 500 meters (approximately 1,600 feet) and a Low Frequency (LF) Marker mode that communicates within a range of up to 5 meters (16 feet). It is suitable for use in different geographical areas (like the European Union and North America), and it operates at frequencies of 868 MHz and 920 MHz, respectively, with a low transmit power of less than 1 mW for energy efficiency. Such devices boast a 48-bit fixed ID for secure identification, ensuring data retention of over 10 years without power and supporting up to 100,000 write cycles. With 10,000 Bytes of user-definable memory and a configurable ping rate ranging from 0.5 to 300 seconds, such transponders offer flexibility in data transmission. They can broadcast user data up to 50 Bytes, and the operation is sustained by a long-lasting, non-replaceable lithium battery, complete with battery monitoring features. This product is ideal for applications requiring long-range communication and precise asset identification and tracking capabilities.


FAQ: Automatic Identification System Transponders in Manufacturing

What is the purpose of using an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder in manufacturing?

The main purpose of deploying an AIS transponder in the manufacturing sector is to enhance the efficiency of asset tracking and management. This innovative system utilises RFID technology alongside advanced software to accurately monitor and manage physical assets crucial for operational efficiency. By improving asset visibility, minimising the risk of asset loss, and aiding in preventive maintenance, AIS transponders not only streamline production planning but also significantly reduce downtime, ensuring a competitive edge in today's market.

How does an AIS transponder improve asset identification and tracking?

An AIS transponder significantly streamlines the process of asset identification and tracking by automating the collection of data on physical assets. Employing RFID tags, which are read by specialised scanners, enables real-time, accurate tracking of assets without the need for manual data entry. This method provides numerous advantages, including the elimination of human error, real-time data collection, enhanced asset visibility, and the capability to track multiple assets simultaneously. Such precision and efficiency are crucial for industries like manufacturing, retail, and healthcare, where managing inventory and ensuring item-level tracking are essential.

Can AIS transponders be customised for different operational needs?

Yes, AIS transponders are highly customisable to suit various operational requirements and settings. With features like user-definable memory, configurable ping rates, and the ability to broadcast specific user data, these devices offer significant flexibility. Furthermore, they operate on different frequency levels, including Low Frequency (LF), High Frequency (HF), and Ultra-High Frequency (UHF), each designed to cater to different tracking needs based on the environment and the nature of the assets being tracked. Whether it's for tracking small inventory items or managing large assets over vast distances, the technology behind AIS transponders can be tailored to meet specific industry demands and objectives.



The integration of Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders into the manufacturing sector represents a significant leap forward in asset tracking and management. By harnessing RFID technology and sophisticated software, these systems offer unparalleled precision and efficiency in monitoring essential physical assets. This not only enhances operational efficiency but also plays a crucial role in maintaining an organisation's bottom line and compliance. Tailored to meet the diverse needs of various industries, Automatic identification system transponders are instrumental in driving competitive advantage by ensuring real-time asset visibility and reducing the risks associated with asset loss and downtime.

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