In the sea of little known acronyms with a huge impact, RFID tracking (Radio-Frequency Identification tracking) is a big fish. But like the elusive anglerfish, it is little known or understood — nearly mythical until more companies and organizations embrace its use.
Extending the anglerfish simile a step further, RFID tracking sheds light on the cracks and crevices of an inventory management system. The goal of an RFID system is to leave no place for your artwork to hide, or even worse, disappear into the depths.
Since artwork is heritage and history in one, carefully tracking and cataloging every detail is critical for protecting artwork for generations to come. It’s not just a pursuit of asset management, but rather a responsibility that comes with owning priceless works.
Shining Light on Inventory Management
To get a grip on the capabilities of RFID tracking, we must first look into the nuances of inventory management as a whole. This is the ocean floor; the place where the pressure and weight of the entire system is absorbed. Should it have cracks or points of weakness, the entire system is liable to implode.
Naturally, building a sturdy base with upfront investment in inventory management is critical for overall system health.
On a sliding scale of difficulty — depending on the size of an art collection — inventory management becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain as the art collection expands. Thankfully RFID tracking provides a backbone and nerve center in one. It seamlessly transmits and stores important information about your art collection with ease and security.
With all of its strength and flexibility, it’s a wonder how RFID management is not yet a household name. Half of the battle is making its presence known to the general public to speed up the adoption curve, and Art Force is keen on helping people understand how it works.
How RFID Tracking Works
For clients who have already embraced the RFID movement, it has been a real watershed. By attaching an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 passive RFID tag to a piece of artwork, suddenly a collection of 1,000, 3,000 or even 10,000 pieces of artwork seems far more manageable.
It all starts with tagging each piece of artwork that a client wishes to track. The tags are generally added to the backs of artworks, or anywhere it won’t damage or compromise the artwork itself. On the tag, one will find an Avery Dennison AD-223 RFID inlay.
Utilizing SimplyRFID’s NoxVault software and a NoxVault handheld reader, Art Force is able to catalog specifics about the artwork including the artwork’s title, the artist’s name, the size and approximate value of the piece, and other valuable information.
From there, the artwork can be ascribed to a specific location, not only creating built in theft monitoring, but lending ease to the inventory management process. The information contained in the piece also helps us confirm that the right artwork is being sent to the right location, helping us jump yet another logistical hurdle.
A Wide Net
An RFID reader has the power to detect a piece of artwork within a range of roughly 20 feet. This can be a major value add for quickly and accurately picking up signals from a large collection. If 1,000 pieces of artwork were stacked within the same 20-foot radius, all 1,000 pieces could easily be tracked and cataloged with the simple touch of a trigger.
Moreover, for clients that already utilize an existing inventory management system, the information contained in the inlay can be easily integrated into their collection through Microsoft Excel.
Rather quickly, your ocean begins to shrink, and depths of the system become far less daunting.
Early Adoption of RFID Tracking at Art Force
With applications across numerous industries, RFID tracking is making inroads into art management at Art Force. In fact, by now those inroads are well paved. As the RFID Journal reported back in 2012, Art Force is ahead of the curve.
From 2012 on, Art Force has used RFID tracking and tag-read data to meticulously manage artwork for clients who request the service. Let’s just say it has been most welcome for corporations and institutions supporting massive art collections.
With 30,000 pieces placed for 150 clients in 42 states and Canada, you can already begin to understand the reasoning for utilizing RFID as an inventory management solution. While it surely is possible to catalog and track art the old fashioned way, embracing efficiency is an end in itself for practicing financial responsibility. As the cliché goes, time is money. Efficiency saves time. And the remainder of the justification follows for investing in RFID tracking.
Future Meets Past
Now just imagine if one of the world’s oldest cave painting, El Castillo, in northern Spain had employed RFID tracking on the 40,800-year-old work of art. Maybe we wouldn’t have had so much trouble finding it!
A slice of the future tagged to one of the oldest inventions of humanity… What’s not to like? While this is a bit dramatic, it is not to shy from the point. RFID tracking is a powerful tool for helping us track and protect our world heritage.
Part of what makes us human is our love for art and creative expression. Too often have prized pieces of artwork fallen victim to misplacement. With any luck, as RFID tracking makes its way into more art collections, we can protect and preserve our shared heritage for generations to come. That’s what this business is all about after all.
For an RFID quote from Art Force, please contact us. Together, we can make your art collection last!