Asset Tags Keep Inventory In Focus

Image uses Metalcraft's smallest labels to track the nation's largest rental inventory

The Challenge offers cameras, lenses and related equipment for rent by mail. Formed in 2006 when the founder couldn't find a lens he wanted locally, it has grown to become the largest photographic equipment renter in the U.S. "We're a family-run business of used-to-be semi-pro photographers," said Tyler Beckman, director of strategic planning and analysis. "We're proud of our growth but remain focused on offering better selection and customer service than anyone else." The company stocks over 8,000 copies of 700 different items ranging in value from $250 to $25,000. They also sell every camera and lens after two years of rental use, which means they have substantial inventory turnover. Entering newly purchased equipment into inventory, tracking all of those cameras and lenses over time, and properly accounting for equipment sales is a challenge. Manual entry of serial numbers or assigned item numbers would introduce potential for errors while adding time to each order process – at least three hours total on an average day.

The Solution

Asset tracking – specifically, asset tagging – makes the inventory challenge manageable. By using two-dimensional asset tags from Metalcraft, stores several alphanumeric characters on each tag and assigns a unique series of characters to each one of the lenses and cameras. The company designed a software solution which recognizes each character series and associates it with a single lens/camera. A simple scan of an asset tag using a USB-driven, 2D bar code scanner automatically retrieves all the information they have on a particular item in inventory. Every time a lens or a camera is rented, its asset tag is scanned and the item is pulled from the inventory software. Later, when the equipment returns, the asset tag is scanned again to receive the item in the inventory software. Before and after each rental, checks each lens visually, testing for focus and sharpness. Anything that does not meet specifications is immediately removed from stock and sent to repair.

The foil 2D dot labels from Metalcraft are engineered for small parts tracking, using a DataMatrix bar code symbology that allows identification and tracking in one-tenth the space of traditional bar codes. "Metalcraft's 2D asset tags remain very readable, despite our demands that the tag sizes remain small," says Beckman. "The tags fit nicely on all of our equipment, including petite lenses."


The company's inventory control system has evolved to match their growth, ensuring accuracy with inspection, testing and, especially, rental order fulfillment. Fast, accurate tracking of rental inventory allows customers to have more choice – with greater certainty – for rental dates, shipping and other details.'s focus on selection and customer service, supported by Metalcraft's asset tags, continue to earn them a position as the largest photographic equipment renter in the U.S.

To learn more about our asset tracking solutions, contact us today at [email protected].