Startup tracks assets with cloud-based RFID

Software licenced per asset, not per-user

The high barrier to entry into radio frequency identification (RFID) has led one Australian startup to develop an asset management system without the need for on-premise software or infrastructure.

Astute Asset Management by Sydney-based Wi Protect uses mobile scanners and software as a service for a hosted RFID solution that is supplied on a monthly subscription basis.

Managing director, Jonathan Elcombe, said the idea came about because of the high cost and risk associated with RFID projects he saw during his 14 years in the logistics industry at TNT.

“We wanted a product that would give a fast ROI with the functionality we wanted,” Elcombe said.

“RFID companies have few opportunities and because the development and project management requirements are high, the costs are also high.”

Elcombe was convinced RFID was a good idea that could “remove bureaucratic processes that don’t offer business value”, but there needed to be a better way of doing it.

“I came up with the idea for an RFID system that people can play with. Not a demo, but a low-cost, real system aimed at the $5000 to $10,000 price,” he said.

“At that stage I started looking into asset management. RFID asset management has been successful in the States, but it’s been around the larger companies.”

After discussions with RFID service provider, Unique Micro Design in Victoria, about how to enlarge the market to include small and medium enterprise, the companies came down to a figure of about $500 to $600. A monthly fee business model would then be suitable.

“Only about 20 weeks ago I had a 'Eureka moment' in terms of the structure we wanted,” Elcombe said. “We wanted to offer greater value than just an asset register. How do we get RFID to come together to include things like asset ownership and location?”

With the core application completed and software still under development, Astute Asset Management is set to sign on its first client in October this year.

“The software had to be hosted for cost control,” Elcombe said. “We will have an on-premise version in 12 months for those companies that want that, but for now it’s all hosted.”

Elcombe said because the core RFID and asset management application is hosted in the cloud it can be updated easily and new functionality can be deployed to all users instantly.

The software registers the asset and can assign it to a person and location. It also has the ability to do an audit on a reader.

The first-generation of the software is now available, but the second and third-generations have already been designed.

“It will have enhanced functionality in terms of business rules, for example items can be restricted from leaving an office location,” Elcombe said, adding a kiosk reader version is also in the works for access control.

“The readers are GPRS-enabled and information relating to that location is downloaded to the reader. You perform the audit and it will then show you all the assets it missed and find them. And when an audit takes place you don’t have to re-register everything.”

Elcombe said companies offer RFID and asset management starter kits for $5000 to $10,000, but the system is an RFID system where you don’t need RFID.

Astute uses Mikoh tamper-evident tags and licences the software per asset, not per-user. Pricing begins at $40 per month for up to 400 assets.

Version 1.0 of the software imports and exports data in CSV format, but future versions will integrate with ERP systems.

Astute is also “white labeled” so other IT companies can offer it as part of existing service portfolios.

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Tags Asset ManagementRFIDcloud computingAstute Asset Management

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