When companies grow, so too do their inventories. What began as a group of friends on their laptops expands into microchip mosh-pit of desktops, printers, projectors, tablets, and more. With this growth in assets, companies reluctantly, but inevitably, decide it’s time to start labelling all their equipment.
To ensure that an asset labelling system has longevity, and to maximise it’s usefulness, a business must first assess what exactly they hope to achieve from their asset tags and consider all potential changes the company may experience.
Overlooking the future needs of the business, many individuals quickly select a numbering system that appears right at the time, only for an unforeseen change to the business to render the system inaccurate a few years down the line. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to hundreds of delicately-applied asset-labels being replaced.
To save you the tedious task of researching asset labelling systems, we have put together a handy list of the 5 most popular asset tagging systems. This will help you decide which system is the best for your business.
Many businesses have several offices or buildings, each with their own computers; many businesses, therefore, asset tag computers according to their location. This allows a clear record of where a computer belongs, and can quickly be returned to that location when misplaced.
Although this may seem like a logical way of labelling assets, there are significant drawbacks to this method.
The primary issue with this method is that it is not future proof. As businesses grow or shrink, computing supplies may be moved to alternative offices or premises. This will require the computer to be re-labelled, as the asset tags indicated that it should be in the former location.
A superior method to the location-based system is to tag products according to their department.
Computers are typically bought for a particular department of a business, and remain in that department despite office change; it would be highly unusual for a computer in a marketing department to be transferred to a warehousing department.
Department-based asset-tagging, therefore, remains accurate through multiple location changes.
Although this method is much more future proof than the location-based method, there are cases when a computer may move department, particularly if a new department is created or merged with another. This would also render the asset tag inaccurate.
3. Item Type
A method that is particularly popular amongst IT technicians is to barcode the label according to the type of device.
For example, a barcode may start with L for laptop, D for desktop, or T for tablet. The descriptive nature of this labelling system helps IT technicians recognise the device when the code is quoted to them.
A disadvantage of this method is that it will require some form of tracking software to remember the location of each of the tagged devices.
4. Purchase Date
Another popular system this is often used in combination with other asset tracking systems is the purchase date system.
This system can vary from the code actually being the date the item was purchased (eg. 18-06-2018), to adding a two-digit year code to the end of another barcoding system (e.g. a code ending in -18 for 2018)
This method is particularly useful in cases where items need to be periodically checked or replaced, as the age of the asset can be clearly determined just by looking at it’s barcode date.
An issue with this system is that as it is impossible to predict when assets will be bought, it lends itself more to printing individual labels as assets come in, rather than buying asset tags in bulk.
Printing individual labels is an expensive method as it requires investment in an asset label printer.
5. Serial numbered
The simplest, yet surprisingly-affective method is a serial numbering system. This method has no complicated coding carrying any particular meaning, the asset number simply increases by one for every new item.
This is the most flexible system as ascending numbers remain accurate, regardless of location or department changes. It also allows asset tags with ascending numbers to be bought in bulk and gradually used over time, saving you from the costly investment of a printer.