Choosing The Right Type Of Tag For Your Fixed Assets

Posted on: 29 October 2014

Asset tags are an indispensable tool for any business owner or manager. Without them, tracking the movement and depreciation of fixed assets would require a ridiculous amount of paperwork and employee hours. However, with so many options available today, it can be difficult to decide which type of tag best suits your needs. 

In order to better determine which product is right for you, it's important to understand the function of an asset tag in your business environment. Also, you'll need to have a firm grasp on what types of tags are commonly available today.

The Function of Asset Tags

Asset tags are an automated tracking system for your fixed assets. Typically, these tags take the form of bar code label placed on the asset. They are commonly used on computers, machinery, fixtures, and any other item that is purchased for long-term use. Owners and managers use asset tags for a number of purposes, including:

  • Theft deterrence--By placing asset tags in prominent positions on removable assets, theft is much easier to prevent. The items will be clearly marked by the bar code label and, should theft continue, the departments and objects stolen will be much easier to identify.
  • Replacement purchase scheduling--Many items, such as computers, require consistent replacement and updating. Automated tracking of purchase dates and locations within the building make it simple to schedule the timing and amount of major purchases.
  • Depreciation accounting--Finance departments must account for the depreciation of fixed assets over time. Asset tags, when combined with a sound depreciation schedule, allow accountants to accurately calculate the current value of your fixed assets.
  • Employee use tracking--If managers want to track an item's use pattern, they simply need to set up a check-out structure to use with an item's asset tag. This can help tremendously with future budget planning.

Asset Tag Materials

Asset tags come in a variety of makes and designs. The material that is used to create the asset tag is driven by the function of the tag and the type of asset being tracked. Some of the more common materials found in asset tags are:

  • Foil--These tags are made from aluminum with the label protected by an anodized aluminum layer. Often paired with strong adhesive agents, this type of label is designed to last for the life of an asset. These are perfectly suited for computers and machines that are subject to consistent handling and that have flat, rigid sides.
  • Polyester--While not as durable as aluminum, laminated polyester tags can hold up to a lot of abuse. They also have the added advantage of being flexible, allowing them to be affixed to rounded surfaces. These are perfect for use when the prominent side of an asset is not entirely flat.
  • Vinyl--The main benefit to vinyl tags is that they are easy to clean. When dealing with an asset that is subjected to dirt--particularly externally used assets--vinyl is a popular choice.
  • Rigid aluminum--The most durable of all tags, metal tags are often fastened directly to an asset with screws or bolts. This is the best choice for heavier machinery or items where damage is a real concern.

Other Considerations

Along with the material used, asset tags come in a number of functional varieties as well. Double-entry tags are available when an additional label is useful for record keeping in an office. Destructible labels are virtually impossible to remove without leaving a torn, ragged remnant on the asset for additional theft deterrence. RFID tags allow for constant tracking of an asset in real time. 

The nature of the asset and your tracking goal will determine which variants are the proper choice. For example, inexpensive items are unlikely to require more expensive RFID tags for constant monitoring. Computers are well-suited for destructible tags, where a flexible tag is required and theft deterrence is at a premium. Double-entry tags are ideal when a large number of identical assets are tracked manually. 

Understanding these factors will allow you to choose the appropriate asset tag for your business needs. Fortunately, no matter which option you select, asset tags will inevitably make your asset tracking process simpler to manage.