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N.Y. State Agency Is More Energy-Efficient, Thanks to RFID

Taking inventory of hundreds of computers, printers, monitors and other electronic equipment can now be accomplished in a single day, instead of several weeks.
By Claire Swedberg
When a staff member takes possession of an asset, a worker in Kaatz's department uses a Motorola MC9090-G handheld RFID interrogator to read the ID number encoded to that item's tag, along with the ID encoded to the tag attached to the staff member's nameplate. The asset and employee ID numbers are linked in the inLogic RFTrack.NET software system, so that the agency knows which individual has possession of which asset at any particular time.

When an audit is undertaken, the agency's IT staff uses one of two handheld readers loaded with the RFTrack.NET software. A worker enters a cubicle and reads the badge ID of the employee assigned to that location, then proceeds to read the RFID tags of each asset. The software displays a green or red light as the assets are read, indicating whether the asset is with the user to whom it was assigned, and that information is then stored in the handheld reader software.

The display on the handheld also offers a series of prompts that can be pressed if an asset is not found, or if that item is discovered in the wrong cubicle. "Before you leave the room, you know what's missing," says Scott Porter, a principal at inLogic.

Once the audit is complete, the employee simply places the reader in a PC cradle and presses a prompt to sync the two devices, and the updated audit data is then loaded into the agency's back-end system. The RFTrack.NET software can also run reports indicating which assets are in which areas, as well as which items are missing.

What was previously a three-week process, Kaatz says, now "can be done in one Saturday."

The key challenge, Kaatz notes, involves ensuring that IT staff members attach a tag to each asset and input its ID number into the system. The employees have also been using the bar-code scanner on the handhelds to scan bar codes on magnetic tapes used for computer backups, he adds, though they are not part of the annual asset audit.

According to Kaatz, the energy agency's staff has currently tagged all of its 1,400 assets.

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