RFID Tag Benchmark for IT Asset Management

RFID Tag for IT Asset ManagementThe largest data centers in the world are using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for IT asset management; and there are numerous companies claiming to have RFID tags designed for IT asset management. The RFID Network engineers did performance testing of commercially available RFID tags advertised as complying with the FSTC Guidelines for IT asset management. We tested the:

  • Omni-ID Prox NG
  • Xerafy Global Track
  • Xerafy Data Track
  • Confidex Steelwave: both HIGGS IC and the Monza 3 IC versions

In this edition of the RFID Network, our engineers perform benchmarking testing of RFID tags for IT Asset management.

RFID Tag Benchmark for IT Asset Management

Buying RFID Tags for IT Asset Management

There are numerous companies advertising RFID tags designed for IT asset management. The RFID Network engineers contacted seven different RFID tags suppliers in order to procure their products for testing an evaluation. Only Omni-ID, Xerafy, and Confidex were able to supply the RFID tags they advertise within a 4 week timeframe.

Performance Testing RFID Tags for IT Asset Management

RFID IT Asset ManagementWe tested the RFID tags in data center and office environments for tracking a variety of IT assets including: servers, routers, firewalls, drive arrays, and electronic test equipment such as network analyzers and oscilloscopes. All assets had a combination of metal and plastic. It’s important to understand that there are a lot of factors that affect performance because there are all different kinds of equipment. Consider the following, which is demonstrated in the video:

  • RFID tags can be placed on solid metal or in area with ventilation holes; they can also be placed on plastic, near metal.
  • If there’s limited available surface area, the RFID tag orientation may vary.
  • If there is ample space, the RFID tag could be anywhere, even inside a compartment (such as a plastic door).
  • The RFID tag could even end up hanging by a tie wrap.

Using RFID to locate IT AssetsAlthough the FSTC published recommendations states 3 feet of read range is ideal with an RFID handheld, we respectfully disagree. Given all the different variations in tag placement, a handheld that reads 3 feet away under optimal conditions, it only reads a few inches away when tags are orientated differently. Three feet may be an ideal distance when taking an inventory of equipment in a rack, but it’s extremely limited when searching for items, especially during a spot audit. Our team highly recommends a long range handheld. This allows specific items to be quickly located from across the room. When it’s time to take inventory of racked equipment, simply reduce the power emitted from the handheld.

While doing performance testing, our engineers visited one company in the process of tagging 2 million IT assets around the world. Their team agrees it’s important to be realistic and consider that even if personnel are given guidelines for tag placement, there will be variation when tagging even thousands of IT assets, much less millions. That’s why the RFID Network engineers performed hundreds of different tests with different RFID tags and readers complying with both FCC and CE regulations. Our engineers followed the FSTC Guidelines for testing and used four different RFID handhelds: the Motorola 9090z and the CSL CS101, both FCC and CE compliant models. We used linear polarized antennas which provide the furthest read distances, but read distance is less if the tag is rotated out of phased with reader antenna.

What we found was the Prox NG from Omni-ID had the furthest overall read performance, and more importantly, the least amount of orientation sensitivity.

RFID IT Asset Management Benchmark

In our benchmarks tests, the CS101 consistently read nearly twice as far as the Motorola 9090. What was most surprising was CSL read approximately the same distance as the Motorola handheld when the CS101 antenna was 90° out of phase! Given that both of these units are based onthe same RFID reader chip, we attribute the performance difference to the antenna. Given the CS101 is half the price of the 9090, we recommend the CS101 for Finding IT Assets.

The RFID Network team is not alone in our findings. Third party testing of the Omni-ID Prox NG using a Motorola 3190z hand-held RFID reader with tags placed on-metal, hanging off metal, and on plastic yielded nearly identical results: an average read distance of 85cm.

For more details, please contact The RFID Network.

Are you currently using or considering RFID technology?

A thirty minute call with one of The RFID Network subject matter experts can save you months of research, the expense of purchasing hardware, software, or RFID tags that do not meet your requirements or operate as the manufacturer claims. We can directly introduce you to the suppliers with the highest customer satisfaction ratings.

Our team is comprised of RFID experts with 10 to 25 years of RFID experience that are hands-on evaluating and testing the latest RFID technology in real world environments.

We provide highly specialized, 3rd party, vendor neutral professional services, unmatched in the industry, which includes:

  • RFID technology selection (what hardware, software, or RFID tags best fits your requirements)
  • RFID vendor selection (what companies should you purchase from)
  • 3rd party project review (are you being overcharged for RFID products or consulting services?)
  • Executive Briefings (how will RFID technology benefit your specific business opreations)
  • Writing RFP's and reviewing submitted proposals that include RFID

For more information on how we can assist you please contact us or get started today with Ask an Expert: RFID Network Telephone Support

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+1 #2 Louis Sirico 2012-08-29 11:23
As we mentioned in the video, our engineers only perform testing of commercially available products. During the 10 years our team has been performing tests like this, we have learned that the RFID industry is filled with companies that have "marketing-ware", which means they advertise products but when you try to buy the product, it takes weeks or months to obtain. Our policy is to exclude marketing-ware products from our reviews and benchmarks.

For IT Asset Management, Omni-ID, Xerafy, and Confidex are the only companies we found that had actual products we could obtain in quantity. We contacted three other companies that advertise having tags for this purpose, but they could not supply even 10 tags for testing.
-3 #1 John Loeb 2012-08-09 07:20
Why did you only test tags from two companies, seems biased to me.

Wouldn't have been more beneficial to include other manufacturing company tags?

I am sure there is more out there, and just as reliable as Xerafy and Omni.

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