Barcode Labels Vs Asset Tags

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Choosing the right label for your company’s Assets.

By Alan McGaffin

What is the difference between a barcode label and an asset tag?

Barcode labels consist of an entire category of many different types of specialty labels. General barcode labels are everywhere and are used in multiple applications.

An asset tag, also known as an asset label, is a specialized label which usually has a barcode printed which makes it part of the Barcode Label Category and is designed specifically for the environment and conditions required for the particular asset it is to be attached.

Barcodes are a fast, accurate and efficient way to read and input data into a computer, either with an attached Barcode Reader or a Portable Barcode Reader.  The barcode is made up of a series of wide and narrow bars and wide and narrow spaces.  This combination of bars and spaces translate into a series of numbers or letters, which usually represent a part number of some sort which links to an items descriptive content in a database and in the case of an asset, is the
Asset Number.

Barcode labels consist of a printed barcode and are attached to an object. Labels are attached directly with adhesive or indirectly with a wire or strap as in the case of a hang tag.   Barcode labels are often used for–

  • tracking parcels, pallets and containers
  • patient wrist bands, retail items, medical supplies
  • organizing rack, shelf and floor inventory in warehouses
  • tracking file folders or tapes

Barcoded Asset tags are used to identify a companies or institutions capital assets which must be secured or tracked through an asset management system. Commonly tracked assets include –

  • fixed machinery and infrastructure
  • medical equipment, IT equipment and electronics
  • vehicles and construction machinery
  • office furniture
  • tools

Companies use asset tags to identify the asset and the asset number is used to reference the descriptive information about that asset. Information might include the name and a description, model, serial number, color, location and condition, purchased date, warranty and service records, annual depreciation figures, and whom the asset is assigned to. An asset tag may or may not feature a bar code.

While labels are attached directly to an object, tags can also be attached with a clip or strap, as with luggage tags and dog tags. Asset tags can also be welded or riveted to a surface if the right conditions exist.

Asset tags are permanently attached to property, so they must be durable and resistant to environmental conditions. IT equipment resides in climatized indoor conditions in an office and requires one kind of tag and adhesive while a vehicle or industrial equipment endure outdoor conditions for many years and still must provide optimal bar code read rates.

Asset tags are usually pre-printed on a durable substrate like polyester or aluminum for maximum longevity. On high-quality tags, the image is often photographic and subsurface printed. The bar code is determined by a pre-defined number sequence. Ordering asset tags is very simple. You can even create your own asset tag!

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