In manufacturing or industrial facilities, asset tags can help increase efficiency, reduce errors, and encourage greater control over valuable resources. Implementing an asset tagging system for equipment, inventory, or products is a strategic way to improve your business operations in nearly any environment. Explore our Guide to learn about what asset tagging is, why you should explore this as an option for asset management, and how to implement your own tagging system.

What Is Asset Tagging?

Asset tagging is the practice of using unique identifiers, such as barcodes, RFID tags, or ID numbers, to keep track of physical assets, including equipment, products, supplies, or PPE. When each item is assigned an ID, it can be tracked to easily offer information such as status or location. For this reason, asset tags are an essential product for warehousing environments, manufacturing and industrial facilities, and other business applications, from hospitals to office buildings to schools.

Movable vs. Fixed Asset Tagging Systems

Most businesses have both movable and fixed assets that can be marked and tracked using asset tags or labels. When we talk about asset tracking systems in industrial environments, we’re often talking about tagging fixed assets—that is, items, equipment, and products that are permanent or integral to your business and can not be removed from the premises. Examples of fixed assets include forklifts, manufacturing machinery, and building services equipment. Movable assets—such as laptops or other personal property; cars, trucks, and vehicles; and other small tools or personal protective equipment—can be more easily removed from the building, and are thus at greater risk for theft, misplacement, or outright loss. 

Benefits of Asset Tagging

Using a tagging and tracking system for your assets, whether fixed or mobile, offers several advantages, such as:

    • Loss Prevention: Asset tags not only establish clear ownership to discourage theft and unauthorized removal, but they can also aid in recovery efforts by providing critical information that can help you locate what’s been lost or stolen.
    • Improved Safety: Asset tags increase safety in manufacturing environments by keeping dangerous equipment in designated areas and discouraging theft of products or tools that help employees safely complete their tasks.
    • Saved Time: When you know whether an item is checked out or in use, you avoid wasted time spent searching for what you need.
    • Extended Asset Life Cycles: Asset tags make it easier to identify equipment for timely maintenance and repairs, so they receive the service they need to maximize their lifespan.
  • Increased Control: An effective asset marking system allows you to enjoy greater control over all of the equipment and tools in your facility. 

How to Use Asset Tags

Asset tags can be used to track any fixed or movable asset across a range of business types and applications. Tags can correspond to whatever information you’d like to use in your centralized database, so you can track everything from temporary asset ownership to machine maintenance history. Consider the following examples for how to use asset tags in your environment:

  • Label laptops used by employees in your business or by students in a school or university system. When you tag laptops or other tech equipment with asset labels, you can track who they are assigned to, keep an accurate inventory, and note missing equipment.
  • Assign asset tags to forklifts to easily track maintenance, repairs, and other important information. When tagged appropriately, it’s also more efficient to make sure forklifts stay in their proper location within a facility.
  • Keep track of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) by tagging items with asset labels that correspond to a given area of your manufacturing or industrial facility. 
  • Use asset tags to improve organization in your facility: Affix asset labels with barcodes to storage bins holding spare parts or essential tools so it’s easy for employees to scan and see what’s inside. 
  • Tag wheelchairs, beds, and other fixed but repositionable assets in healthcare facilities so they can easily be traced when used across your premises. 

5 Steps to Implement an Asset Tagging System

Asset tag management protocols should be designed to ensure consistency and accuracy across the board. Before beginning the process of marking assets in your business, assign a point person who can define which items will be tagged and establish protocols for reporting issues as well as deploying, relocating, or decommissioning tagged assets. You may find that a series of Kaizen Events allows the time and structure to complete the following asset tagging steps: 

1. Assign Unique ID Numbers

The first step to implementing an asset tag system is to assign each item a unique identification number. This ensures accurate tracking and prevents duplicates.

2. Choose the Right Type of Asset Tag

Consider the environment in which the asset will be used and choose tags made from a durable, heavy-duty material that can stand up accordingly. We carry a variety of customizable asset tags that can be personalized with your business name and other relevant information such as address or phone number. Choose the right type of asset tags to suit your purposes:

  • Number Tags: Basic asset tags can be custom-printed with an item’s assigned number to allow for identification and tracking.
  • Barcode Tags: Asset tags that are printed with a barcode can be quickly scanned for improved efficiency and productivity.
  • Tamper-Proof Tags: Asset tags with a cut in the middle cannot be removed in one piece, so it becomes immediately evident if one has been tampered with. These are ideal for high-value movable assets. 

3. Implement an Effective Asset Tag Tracking System

A tagging system is only as effective as your overarching approach to asset management. Each unique ID or barcode should correspond to a centralized database that tracks important information associated with each labeled asset. Some examples include: 

  • Asset name/descriptor
  • Asset ID
  • Location
  • Date purchased
  • Cost and depreciation information
  • Insurance information
  • Maintenance/service history
  • Disposal or decommissioning process
  • Additional notes

4. Affix Asset Tags to Items

Follow consistent placement practices across similar items so asset tags are easy to spot or scan when needed. For example, place asset labels in the same place on all forklifts in your facility, or on the bottom of laptops you’ll be distributing and tracking among employees. Be sure not to cover important item information (such as serial numbers or model numbers) when affixing asset tags. 

5. Measure the Efficacy of Your Tracking System

Any facility implementing Lean and 5S methods is familiar with the idea of continuous improvement, which requires that organizations constantly analyze established processes to make sure they are still functioning as intended. An asset marking system is no exception: Regularly verify and update asset information in your database and conduct frequent audits to maintain accuracy and note areas for improvement.

Our asset tracking tags are made from durable aluminum with bright, highly visible color options, and can be custom printed with the information you need to efficiently and effectively manage your products, equipment, and more. For more on increasing efficiency, safety, and productivity in your workplace, explore our Resource Center.