Getting Started with Asset Tagging

Asset taggingOne of the phases in 5S methodology of organization and efficiency is Set in Order. During this step, managers and employees work to ensure every item in a facility has a place and these can be items can be found when needed. For large manufacturing or industrial facilities thought, the sheer number of tools, machines, and pieces of equipment can be overwhelming and hard to keep track of.

Developing an asset tagging program utilizing an inventory-tracking system can reduce the amount of time it takes to locate an item and make worker’s jobs easier, effectively creating a more productive and efficient workplace.

Types of Codes for Asset Tagging


Barcodes are the time-tested, most consistently used code for inventory/ asset tracking. Barcodes are a data representation of products. Scanners take that data and translate them into product names/descriptions. Barcodes are the codes you think of when you
think of inventory management codes: black and white parallel lines in 1D (2D versions can include more data. See QR Codes below). Barcodes are a great for smaller businesses looking for a simple, low overhead solution that requires minimal training or implementation costs.

QR Codes

First made popular in the car industry, the QR code evolved in its use. Have you ever used your cell phone to scan a coupon or check in for a flight? If your answer is yes, then you used a QR code to do so. QR codes allow items to be scanned quickly, and with any smartphone rather than needing a specialized tool to do so. Using QR codes can make asset tagging less clunky and more cost-effective since there’s no need for costly scanners or computers to manage tagging system.


These small, electronic tags consist of a chip with an antenna. The data in the tag is transmitted through the antenna to a receiver, often called an interrogator, which allows you to track the tag. Because of its powerful range, RFID tags are perfect for large-scale warehouses, because you can scan assets without being in the exact location. Active RFIDs do require batteries, which can be costly and requires extra maintenance.

Benefits of Asset Tagging

Asset tagging has many benefits, but like any new change, getting started can feel daunting. Taking these steps is a painless way to start the implementation process.

  • Figure out which strategy best suits your facility. We’ve outlined a lot of options for equipment labeling/asset tagging, but you know your facility best. Pick the method that, given the unique inner-workings of your facility, will be the most successful and cost-effective model for managing tools/assets and minimizing loss.
  • Determine which tools need to be tagged/labeled. Ask the following questions about the tools/equipment in your facility: which tools have the greatest value, both monetarily and for the function of your facility? Which tools run greater risk of being misplaced or stolen? Of all the company’s instruments, which are most likely to be used by multiple departments, teams, or other facility locations?
  • What information should labels/tags need? Best practices for label and
    tag information include item name, where the item should be stored, which number this item is (1 of 4 jack hammers, for example). Color coding labels/ tags can be a helpful management tool as well.

After planning out an asset tagging program and choosing the right materials for your tags, you are ready to kick off your next labeling project. Although the opportune time to do this is during 5S, you can really implement an asset tagging system any time.

Additional Resources