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Are There Any Standards for Asset Tracking?

Posted By RFID Journal, 07.07.2014

For example, is there a standard data format or network?

—Name withheld


The only asset-tracking standard of which I am aware is the Global Returnable Asset Identifier (GRAI), which is a GS1 standard for identifying returnable transport items, such as pallets, containers, crates, trays, trolleys and beer kegs. Returnable assets can be owned by either trading partner, or can be rented via a system by which companies collaborate on the use of these assets.

A GRAI consists of a company identifier, an asset type and an optional serial number, and can be encoded in a bar code or an EPC RFID tag that can be scanned to automatically register a returnable asset's movements—for example, when used to ship goods or when returned empty.

GS1 also has something called the Global Individual Asset Identifier (GIAI), which was created so that companies could uniquely identify and manage assets, such as computers, desks, vehicles, transport equipment, spare parts and so forth. I don't believe the GIAI is widely used, however—at least, not yet with RFID.

I think it would be valuable for industries to get together and create asset-tracking standards. For example, it would be very useful if all health-care providers globally had a system for identifying gurneys, oxygen pumps and the like. That way, this information could be encoded in RFID transponders and assets could be identified when they left one hospital and arrived at another. That will likely happen after RFID becomes more common for tracking assets.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal


Ken Traub 2014-07-07 01:23:22 PM
Mark correctly identifies two GS1 identifiers (GRAI and GIAI) commonly used as the unique identification code on assets that are to be tracked. I am aware of different RFID applications using each -- I believe GIAI is, in fact, as widely used as GRAI. Those standards are just for identification of assets. Equally if not more important are standards for the data. The most importnat of these is a standard called EPCIS. It provides a standardized data format to record the "what", "when", "where", and "why" of events that happen in the lifecycle of a tracked asset. Search for "EPCIS" here on rfidjournal.com to see the articles I and others have written on this topic. Other standards are available for interfacing to RFID readers (LLRP), to RFID middleware (ALE), and for other parts of the infrastructure. To find all of these standards, see the GS1 web site: www.gs1.org/gsmp/kc/epcglobal Be sure to read the architecture document which shows how they all fit together.

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