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RFID to Improve Management of Corporate Artwork

Corporate Art Force, which provides art procurement and installation services to U.S. and Canadian companies, is using EPC UHF tags and readers to track paintings and sculptures that its clients display at their worksites.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 01, 2012Many companies and organizations display works of art at their worksite, for employees and visitors to enjoy. Some, for example, may hang hundreds of paintings at dozens of office buildings worldwide, each piece of art having its own monetary value. Corporate Art Force (CAF), which provides artwork procurement and installation services to businesses throughout 42 U.S. states, as well as in Canada, has launched a program known as SmartArt, intended to help companies track their art using radio frequency identification. This year, CAF has begun tagging every work of art that it receives and then sells to corporations. The firm utilizes tag-read data to store its own records of which items were sent to which locations, and offers a service to customers enabling them to track the paintings on their own sites as well.

For companies acquiring and displaying works of art, CAF reports, the tracking of these pieces can be nearly impossible. With hundreds or thousands of paintings, prints or sculptures, an organization can lose track of what it has in inventory, and where each artwork item is located. A firm's staff can remove a painting from a wall and read the identification on its back, or ask a business such as CAF to help with that process. In either case, the time required for such an undertaking can stretch into days or weeks.

CAF is attaching an RFID label to the back or bottom of each painting or sculpture.

CAF has opted to offer a more efficient inventory solution, says William Kieger, the firm's president, by attaching an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 passive RFID tag to each piece of art that it sells, and utilizing handheld readers to interrogate the tags, as well as software to manage the location and maintenance performed for each artwork. The RFID solution, including software and readers, is provided by SimplyRFID.

"Art is an asset," Krieger states, "and being able to track where that artwork is has great value." He describes a client that owned more than 3,000 pieces of artwork in its inventory, but did not know where each item was located.

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