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Australia, New Zealand & Pacific Islands Copyright © 2016 Toshiba Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Asset labelling and sequential numbering

by Craig Warren, Dealer Principal, Stratix

Most businesses have assets that they need to track. A construction company keeps tabs on its tools; an aged care facility knows how many beds it has; an office keeps track of computers and desks; the military traces munitions.

They all need to know what they have, where it is, who is using it and its service history. Losing track of assets could result in expensive losses or in potential serious safety and security issues.

Barcode labelling, linked to an asset database is the most efficient way of keeping tabs on valuable business resources.

We work with businesses who need to track assets large and small, in a whole range of conditions. They want advice on asset databases, labels, numbering systems and barcodes. There are six questions we are commonly asked about asset tracking.

How does barcode labelling for asset tracking work?

A physical label is attached to each item to be tracked. The label is printed with a barcode, which is a unique identifier that links to an asset record in a database. The asset database may be a simple spreadsheet, but more commonly it is a cloud-based asset management system.

What is sequential numbering and should I use it?

Sequential numbering means that each asset is given the next number in the sequence. The number is simply an identifier. The alternative is that the number holds meaning, eg. part of the number indicates the type of asset - a bed, a lamp or a chair - and another part shows the location - and so on.

We strongly recommend sequential numbering - the key reason being efficiency.  With sequential numbering, businesses can use a single roll of numbers and just allocate each asset the next label on the roll. If the numbers have meaning, multiple sets of rolls are needed and the organisation has to correctly switch between the number series. This can lead to confusion, which compromises the very information that the label number is supposed to convey.


What type of barcode should I use?

The type of barcode printed on the label will depend primarily on how it is going to be scanned. Linear, or 1D, barcodes are perfect if the organisation is going to read them with a scanner. But if they want staff to scan from mobile phones, which find it hard to get a good read from a 1D barcode, we recommend 2D barcodes.


What type of label should I use?

Asset labels need a long life - typically they need to remain in place and readable for years.

The most common labels for asset tracking are:

At the top and bottom ends of the ‘label toughness’ spectrum, we also see:

How do I make sure my labels stay on?

Keeping labels in place means choosing the right adhesive properly preparing the surface - usually a wipe down with a lint free cloth and isoproplyl alcohol.

Metal tags are sometimes attached with a chain through a hole in the tag.

Position is also important - putting the label in a place where it won’t be rubbed or scraped, but also making sure that is accessible for scanning. On laptops for example, a label on the underside will remain in place for 15-20 years, but next to the mouse trackpad, oils from the user’s skin can render it unreadable in a few months.

How do I keep my label readable?

The label not only has to stay in place, but remain readable, with no fading, blurring or smudging. That’s a function of choosing the right type of printing technology, ink and ribbon. Thermal transfer printing produces a print that lasts a lot longer than thermal direct. When it comes to ink and ribbon, wax resin or resin produces a more smudge resistant image. Toshiba have gone into the pros and cons of printers and ribbons in a lot more detail in their eBooks, ‘Five things you need to know before buying a label printer’ and ‘Five common mistakes when choosing a ribbon’.

Assets represent a great deal of value to a business and keeping a track of them is essential. With the right label and an efficient tracking system, nothing ever needs to be lost again.

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