Jun 05 2009

Tag: You're It!

Take advantage of asset tagging to keep track of equipment.

Photo: Brady Fontenot/Redux Pictures
Chad Penny of HRI Properties turned to asset tags to track IT gear.

As companies strive to rein in costs and streamline processes, more are turning to asset tagging to keep tabs on high-value corporate assets such as notebook computers, video cameras and card keys.

By affixing either electronic or physical tags to assets, IT managers can keep track of where equipment is, who is using it and how it is being used. More important, equipment can be quickly located when it’s time for software or firmware updates.

HRI Properties, a 500-employee property management company based in New Orleans, turned to asset tagging last year to help keep track of where its computers, projectors, printers and other equipment were located at any given time.

“We have a lot of employees who travel from property to property and use a variety of equipment, and it was getting out of hand,” says Chad Penny, the company’s IT director. “We were at the point where we were relying on a dry-erase board and a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to keep track of things, and things were falling through the cracks.”

HRI Properties decided to use asset tagging services from CDW, which tagged all purchased equipment and provided it with internal codes, barcodes and tag numbers. Penny’s team is also working to retrofit existing equipment with asset tags. Eventually, however, Penny wants to add the tagging information to an internal system with additional capabilities, such as property name and location.

“We want to track all inventory at all times,” he explains.

A Sense of Security

For Paladin Private Security, a Sacramento-based professional patrol service, the need to tag essential assets — in this case, mobile computers, tasers, keys and other patrolling essentials — derived mostly from the company’s explosive growth. Paladin’s 130 employees, up from about 85 last year, patrol hundreds of properties 24 hours a day, with each shift consisting of dozens of officers and hundreds of pieces of equipment.

The amount of money spent to track IT assets using asset tags will grow from $660,000 in 2008 to $4.35 million in 2013, a compound annual growth rate of nearly 45 percent.

Source: ABI Research

“Before we started asset tagging earlier this year, the process of assigning equipment to officers was very labor-intensive, and we often didn’t know that something was missing until the next shift,” said Vice President Matthew Carroll.

With the older manual system, the process of assigning equipment took about 45 minutes and resulted in chaos, while today’s streamlined barcoding process — with the Wasp MobileAsset System — takes about 15 minutes. Instead of dealing with five to seven equipment-related issues during a typical shift, today’s shift commanders typically don’t have any such issues to address, Carroll says.