When implementing an asset tracking program using radio frequency identification (RFID) one of the important decisions that must be asked is whether or not to use an integrator. We've made it easier for you by developing some questions that should help you decide if you need an integrator for your RFID asset tracking installation.
- Why would an integrator be needed?
The majority of end users are not equipped to properly implement RFID. They may not have sufficient experience in RF and RFID technology. There may not be enough qualified manpower to manage and/or train other employees on how to use the system. They may be inexperienced in integrating hardware and software for a complete solution. They may have limited contacts for providers and limited knowledge of the products and solutions currently available on the market. Also, they may not have enough time to devote to one particular project.
- What value does an integrator provide?
Integrators may provide such valuable services as a site survey or an RF analysis to help determine what kinds of specific needs should be addressed in order to achieve your objective. Depending on the level of involvement integrators may either recommend or completely install the infrastructure for your RFID tracking system including hardware, firmware and software. They may also work with an RFID tag converter to design the specific tags for the application to ensure they will perform as expected. Integrators may also have expertise with specific applications (i.e. asset tracking, access control, vehicle tracking, work-in-process, etc.) that may prove invaluable when designing your RFID tracking system.
The next series of questions are related to potential types of integrators and the services they provide. Don't assume that all integrators offer the same services. For example, some may be full-service, while others focus on the software only.
- What should you look for in an integrator?
- Do they have a specific area of expertise, i.e. asset tracking, access control, vehicle tracking work-in-process, etc.?
- If so, does it align with your own objective?
Different applications or even different industries may have different requirements that it might be helpful to know about when implementing an RFID tracking system. An integrator who specializes in an application area and/or specific industry may be able to provide valuable insights.
- How many RFID installations have they done?
Numerous RFID installations show experience and are a good indicator that they know what they are doing. Think about it - odd are the integrator who has 25+ RFID installations under their belt probably has a better handle on things than an integrator who has completed one or two installations.
- What kinds of services do they offer?
- Will they do a site survey?
- What about system design?
- Do they have facilities for in-house testing?
- Do they offer ongoing support?
- Will they do the hardware installation themselves?
Services and ongoing support can be key if you don't have the necessary manpower and or RFID knowledge to perform the proper analysis up front or provide ongoing support once the system is implemented. A qualified integrator would be able to help in both areas.
Implementing an RFID asset tracking system can be a challenging endeavor. By asking yourself some of the questions provided here you should be able to determine if you would benefit from having an integrator involved with this process.
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