Large-scale equipment tracking

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by Xkyve, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. Xkyve

    Thread Starter Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    32
    2
    I'm trying to come up with a convenient and cheap solution to keep track of electronic equipment distributed among 150-200 people in an office.

    The objective is to know which person has the equipment X.

    So far we have tracking only through the USB port (if the equipment has USB interface). When someone connects a device to the USB of his computer an event is triggered, a program running in background will retrieve the serial number of the device, the name of the computer account and update a centralized database.

    However, not all equipment have USB interface. In this case we would need some kind of scanner assigned to each person and every device should have in this case a tag.

    I thought of Video, RFID or NFC scanning. Buying a webcam for each person would be very costly.
    The only viable solutions are RFID or NFC, but the budget would be about 10 USD / person.

    Do you know cheap solutions for my project?
    Thank you
     
  2. williamj

    Active Member

    Sep 3, 2009
    180
    32
    For scanning purposes, have you considered inexpensive web cams (some are ten dollars and under) with QR code reading software and putting QR code tags on your equipment?
     
  3. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
    4,769
    969
    When person X is given machine Y write its serial number/description down in a log/checkout book.. Have them also sign the log to to verify receipt.

    What exactly are you trying to track and why?.. just receipt of the equipment or its usage or what? need more info..
    If its lost what happens?
    If its damaged what happens?
    If employee is terminated what happens?
    etc...
     
  4. Xkyve

    Thread Starter Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    32
    2
    The idea is to have everything automated, so that when an employee needs a piece of equipment (let's say an oscilloscope) he takes it to his desk, scans it quickly (with some sort of device at his desk) and can immediately begin working with it afterwards. Most employees will not like the idea to manually write into a log that they took the equipment, but if they have some sort of automated mini scanner at their desk, then it's a little easier to just get the equipment in the proximity of the scanner.

    Now if another employee needs that same oscilloscope, he checks the database and finds out which was the last person to use it, even if it's damaged or lost now.

    @williamj: Thanks for the tip, didn't know that some webcams can be so cheap.
     
  5. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
    4,769
    969
    Do the employees have credit card type name badges?
    Is there an equipment room (locked) where all this is stored?

    At only $10 each your options are severely limited as far as adding hardware to each desk.. it ain't gonna happen unless you have them all just use the scanner on their personal android/apple smartphones and write a simple database application on your intranet.

    BUT if you were to simply "check in/out" the equipment at one centralized location or a small few locations (call it the checkout kiosk or whatever) then the $10 is easily doable.
    There is tons of "asset tracking" software packages out there where you simply barcode the employee name (badge or something) then barcode the inventory and they check in/out as needed with the centralized barcode scanner and you can access the software from any location to determine equipment status,etc... That is all out there already and I'm sure you can find a complete software+hardware (scanners,etc..) solution easily in your budget.
     
  6. Xkyve

    Thread Starter Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    32
    2
    The employees have RFID based cards, but there is no centralized storage for equipment. All the equipment is distributed on the desks of the employees.
    You are right, smartphones could be a solution, almost all employees have one, but there still will be problems with discharged/forgotten-at-home phones.
     
Loading...