Najran University, with twenty-one campuses located in 2 Saudi Arabian cities—Najran and Sharoura—located one hundred eighty miles apart, tracking assets could be a complicated task. Collectively, the campuses have thirty three administrative and teaching buildings with thirteen faculties, and also the varied assets—which embrace furniture, lab equipment, tools, scanners, computers and copiers—located throughout all of the numerous buildings should be tracked from a central department, following procedures needed by the nation’s Ministry of upper Education.
Gaining visibility relating to every item’s location was tough, however, when the department was addicted to written records of where an asset was initially sent. Paperwork-based tracking, combined with the university’s fast growth, allowed for errors. Assets typically went missing, the university reports, as a result of they were either stolen or simply relocated to alternative workers members or departments, while not that transfer being recorded. In fact, the college estimates that five % of the yearly purchases were lost, on average, through shrinkage—a sizable amount, since the college purchased over $26 million value of furniture, electronicsthirty-threeandmedical equipment in 2006.
An RFID system that has active and passive tags across 5 campuses is geared toward serving to solve that downside. Saudi RFID firm Modern Technology put in the primary part of the system in November 2009, comprising active 433 MHz tags from RF Code, to pinpoint a tag’s location, detect when that tag is moved, and trigger an alarm if a tagged item leaves a selected area; 866 MHz passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen a pair of tags provided by UPM Raflatac, for things not requiring the alerting feature; and RFID readers from RF Code put in throughout sixteen buildings on 5 campuses.
The university’s asset-management department is chargeable for ordering, assigning and dispersing those things, furthermore as for tracking their maintenance. till recently, says Kamal Ahmed, Modern Technology’ CEO, all of those functions were performed manually, with workers recording where things where moved to, signing a bit of paper indicating that location—along with that individual or department was chargeable for that specific asset—and inputting that location data into a database. That system wasn’t terribly correct, he says, and therefore the department usually had an incomplete record of where things were located, furthermore as who had them at any given time. This created it tough to find the assets when the time came to perform maintenance, he notes, and additionally created it easier for thieves to get rid of them undetected, or to vandalize faculty property.
The university sought a system that not solely would facilitate it maintain records and perform fast inventories, however that will additionally alert it if somebody were to get rid of an asset from its permitted location—and track where the assets were moved to, furthermore as where they may be accessed for maintenance or repairs. the varsity has tens of thousands of assets, says Ahmed Moussa, the manager of the university’s asset-management department, and it must be able to account for them throughout the various buildings and campuses. there have been giant discrepancies, however, between what the database indicated every department had in its possession (and where they were located), and therefore the actual standing of these assets. to unravel that downside, the university purchased Modern Technology’s asset-management answer called Asset path, using the company’s Asset path software to manage and show requested knowledge associated with RFID tag reads to school workers members.
The deployment’s initial part, that concerned sixteen buildings on 5 campuses, was completed in November 2009, whereas RFID technology are going to be put in in a further eleven buildings on 5 campuses throughout future part, within the initial quarter of 2011, along side closed-circuit tv (CCTV) camera technology to supply video recordings of alarm-related incidents. whereas the university’s goal is to eventually tag all of its assets, the primary deployment began with the tagging of mobile assets costing a minimum of $200 apiece, with RF Code’s M100 tags, and UPM Raflatac’s DogBone UHF tags on things of less worth, or on those too giant to be simply moved.
Each RF Code tag comes with motion and tamper sensors, and communicates with readers via a proprietary air-interface protocol. The tamper sensor, consisting of a pin that presses into the tag when hooked up to an asset, detects if somebody tries to get rid of the tag, and therefore the tag then triggers an alarm. Modern Technology has put in a hundred thirty five RF Code zone locators—infrared emitters that transmit a novel identifier to the tag, that in flip forwards that identifier, along side its own ID range, to a reader. (Currently, there are a complete of forty seven RF Code readers deployed to this point, with 2 or 3 on each floor of the buildings within which the system has been put in.) The readers capture the IDs of each the zone locator and therefore the tag, and forward that data along to the Asset path software, where the tag’s location is then calculated by triangulating the IDs of the zone locators inside the tag’s vicinity.
To date, the university has tagged 23,000 items, 3,000 of which have active RFID tags attached with a foam adhesive, while the rest have passive tags, also affixed via adhesive. While those passive tags, in the future, will be read by portal readers at building entrances, the university indicates, they are currently being interrogated with handheld readers only. In this case, the school wants to know that an item is still in a specific department, but does not require an alert if that asset is moved—in most cases, because the item’s value is low, but also, in some cases, because the asset is not easily moveable (desks or tables, for example).
With the RFID system, when a new asset is received, order information regarding that item, including the person for whom it has been requisitioned, is retrieved by the staff, and a new tag is then read and linked to that item and its intended guardian in the Asset Trail software. If an active tag is attached to the asset, the specifics regarding the point beyond which that item can not pass is also entered into the system.
The Asset Trail system consists of middleware and application layers. The middleware layer manages connectivity to readers and other hardware, such as CCTV cameras or sensors, while the Asset Trail Active Management software manages alarms, produces reports and statistic data, interprets location data and presents that information to system users in a simplified manner. In the case of active tags, it also determines whether a particular item is in its proper location—and, if it is not, sends an alert to the university’s management or security guard via a pop-up, e-mail or SMS text message.
The software can also track maintenance schedules, and issue an alert that includes the asset’s location if it is due for maintenance. The system’s handheld Motorola readers allow workers to perform inventory checks, add new tags, retrieve assets for maintenance, decommission an asset or search for a particular item. The ID numbers of all passive tags, collected by mobile readers, are sent via a Wi-Fi connection, and are also stored for the asset-management department, which can then run reports tracking where specific assets are located, in addition to when they were moved to that spot.
According to the university, the next step—planned for the first quarter of 2011—will be the installation of CCTV cameras that will automatically enable the recording of video footage when an alert is sounded, based on a tag’s location at the time of that alarm, as well as the sending of that video with an alert to the necessary staff members. In addition, DEPCO plans to install RF Code and Motorola RFID portal readers at four more campuses and nine more buildings.
“The system enables us to control our assets from theft,” Moussa says, because the alarm offers employees sufficient opportunity to intercept an individual before he or she leaves the building. “It also enables us to know the accountability of assets, and which employee is guardian,” he says. “Really, the university has needed a system like this for a long time.”