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The Expert’s Guide to Equipment Tags and Labels: Types, Uses, Tracking Considerations and More

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Metalphoto Foil Label

Key Takeaway

  • An equipment tag is a barcode label or plate attached to a device for the purpose of tracking and identifying the asset, allowing companies to retrieve information about it by scanning the barcode.
  • Equipment identification tags enable a company to monitor and track its physical assets. Combined with an asset tracking software program, equipment asset tags and labels create a foundation for seamless, intuitive, ongoing repair, maintenance, and inventory control processes.

    Equipment tags play a foundational role in such processes by housing important information about the devices they are attached to, such as serial numbers, asset identifiers, supplier information, maintenance history, and location. We created this guide to provide a comprehensive overview of equipment tags.

    What are Equipment Tags?

    Meatlphoto Foil Label

    An equipment tag is a barcode label or plate that is attached to a device for the purpose of tracking, allowing companies to identify a piece of equipment and retrieve information about the asset by scanning a barcode. When paired with solutions like asset management software and maintenance systems, equipment tags provide end-to-end device visibility.

    With it, businesses can track valuable equipment assets as they move throughout the organization, access vital equipment data such as operating instructions, safety warnings, and capacity limits, and readily document equipment usage, maintenance activities, parts replacements, work orders, and more.

    Equipment tags can be customized to meet your company’s unique needs. Usually, the tags contain a part number, barcode, and company name. In certain cases, they include identifiers, such as product name, vendor, or directions, like a “Do not remove” statement.

    By standardizing inventory labeling with equipment ID tags, you can ensure uniformity across your company and manage your assets more efficiently.

    The 2 Different Types of Equipment

    To put sound processes in place to properly mark equipment, the first step is conducting an equipment inventory. Equipment is broken into two categories:

    • Movable equipment. This is equipment that is not part of the corporate building or infrastructure. Laptop computers are one example of a movable asset. Such devices often change locations and hands many times throughout their lifespans. In this case, equipment tags are used for device assignment, inventory control, and loss prevention.
    • Fixed equipment. Fixed assets remain in a set location throughout their lifespan. Signage, water and sewer systems, distribution systems, lighting, tunnels, plant floor machinery, buildings, and anything attached to them are examples of fixed assets.

    In this case, equipment tags allow corporations to create a map that identifies the various assets. The map can then be used for analysis, real-time tracking, and project planning, as well as maintenance and repairs.

    Over time, you’ll collect valuable data about the operational efficiency of equipment assets, repair costs, the frequency of breakdowns, performance data, and other information that can help inform your buying decisions when it’s time to replace your assets. You can also use this data to determine whether it makes more sense to repair equipment or replace it based on its age, performance, and expected lifespan.

    Together, all of this information enables companies to maximize the useful lifespan of their expensive equipment and optimize performance while it’s in use.

    Equipment Tagging and Strategic Planning

    Rigid Metalphoto Tag

    Companies need to examine their labeling requirements and put together a strategic plan when implementing an asset tracking solution for their equipment.

    • Understand your equipment. Before any labels can be created, a business needs to understand its equipment requirements. You need to account for any local, government, regulatory, or vendor requirements that may dictate label format and content. These considerations include the barcode type, label size, and label material.
    • Procure quality labels. Whether printing labels in-house or using a supplier, ensure that the label type and quality are capable of withstanding the equipment’s typical operating environment. Label durability is especially important in harsh environments. It’s always best to choose labels that are designed to withstand potential exposure to harsh conditions. When you work with a partner like Camcode, you can customize your label types, materials, and format for each asset type throughout your organization, allowing you to minimize costs by selecting the appropriate labels to meet your specifications. You’ll avoid costly and time-consuming label replacements when your equipment tags remain readable throughout the asset’s full lifespan.
    • Apply labels uniformly. Once labels are selected, ensure that your team has created clear policies outlining how and where labels should be placed on equipment. Each label should be easily readable when the asset is placed on a shelf, a rack, indoors, or outdoors. It’s also important to ensure the barcodes are easily accessible for scanners. Establishing a standardized process for label placement creates consistency and makes it easy for staff to document information.
    • Periodically review your labeling processes. Change is a business constant today, and how items are labeled at one time may become inefficient later. It’s therefore important to set regular intervals to review your company’s asset labeling processes to identify issues and any areas that may not be working well.

    What Business Functions Do Equipment Tags and Labels Support?

    Metalphoto DoD Equipment Tags

    Equipment tags and asset management systems improve your business operations in several ways:

    • Locate equipment. Barcoding inventory systems allow the necessary parties to locate equipment at any given time. Inventory tracking allows simpler and less stressful counts or cycling, especially when it’s time for an audit.
    • Automate manual tracking. Many facility teams still conduct equipment counts by hand, wasting valuable time, money, and effort. Instead, use equipment tags to receive proper inventory counts, on-demand.
    • Gain visibility. If your business has a clear picture of your movable and fixed assets, then you are better able to see what your company has and what it needs. With this information readily available, companies make more sound and data-driven decisions.
    • Extend end-to-end visibility. These days, end-to-end visibility is needed because markets change so quickly and competition is so intense. Equipment data is relevant to parties throughout the organization. Facility managers, maintenance technicians, site managers, accounting staff, and other stakeholders can gain visibility at all times.
    • Robust reporting. Currently, companies collect a lot of information, and reporting system features have developed to become much more sophisticated. Creating quarterly and annual reports can be a struggle, especially if your company is experiencing a particularly busy period. When equipment tags are scanned, their data can be aggregated and users can create comprehensive inventory reports with just a few clicks — and ideally long before an audit or tax reporting deadlines.
    • Ensure compliance. Regulations are becoming increasingly stringent across a variety of industries, such as foodservice and medical device manufacturing, and equipment tags help your company meet compliance requirements. Machinery needs to be up to code to ensure safe operation in addition to providing quick information at a glance for inspectors.

    How to Choose the Right Equipment Tags

    Metalphoto Equipment Security Label

    Businesses operate in many markets and provide a wide range of services. Consequently, equipment tags are used in various ways, and different types of tags and labels serve various requirements.

    When equipment identification tags are installed and integrated into an inventory tracking system, the results are usually seamless. However, before you experience the benefits of the software solution, you’ll first need to select the types of tags that will best meet your application specifications.

    Here are Camcode’s most popular options:

    Metal Foil Labels

    Foil Metalphoto® Labels are the most popular and versatile option because of their versatility and price. Their features include:

    • Constructed of durable .003″to .005″ anodized aluminum
    • Barcode and printed info remains readable over the lifespan of the asset
    • Stays in place even when exposed to chemicals, UV rays, extreme cold, and heat
    • Popular in healthcare, education, government, and manufacturing applications

    Rigid Metalphoto Tags

    Rigid metal asset tags are known for their flexibility, and they come with either holes for mechanical attachment or pressure-sensitive adhesive that bonds permanently to high surface energy metals and plastics, as well as textured and contoured surfaces. These equipment tags are:

    • Ultra-durable
    • Ideal for both indoor and outdoor use
    • Constructed from .020″ anodized aluminum face stock (optional thicknesses from .008″ to .063″)
    • Resistant to chemicals, abrasives, solvents, UV rays, extreme cold, and heat with a lifespan exceeding 20 years
    • Most often used in healthcare, oil, gas, telecom and chemical processing

    Premium Polyester Inventory Labels

    A popular choice for indoor applications, Premium Polyester Inventory Labels are unobtrusive. Their strengths are:

    • Ultra-thin label option
    • Constructed from a 2.0 mil gloss white polyester face stock, over-laminated with a 1.0 mil clear polyester film
    • Designed to permanently bond to high and low surface energy plastics, slightly textured, or contoured surfaces
    • Good resistance to general purpose and household cleaners, mild acids, oil and water with a lifespan of up to 2 years
    • Can be used in indoor office environments in all industries

    Tamper-Evident Polyester Labels

    Tamper-Evident Polyester Labels are suited to sensitive items that need to be protected. The labels are:

    • Constructed from a 2.0 mil gloss white polyester face stock, over laminated with a 1.0 mil clear polyester film
    • Designed to prevent tampering and unauthorized use – when the label is removed, a “VOID” message is revealed
    • Resistant to general purpose and household cleaners, mild acids, oil and water with a lifespan of up to 2 years
    • Used in indoor office environments in all industries

    Destructible Vinyl Inventory Labels

    Destructible Vinyl Inventory Labels offer companies a flexible, ultra-thin option. Their features include:

    • Constructed from a 2.0 mil white cast vinyl face stock, with a 0.8 mil permanent pressure-sensitive adhesive
    • Designed to break apart when removed from the asset’s surface to discourage unauthorized tampering
    • Good resistance to general purpose and household cleaners, mild acids, oil and water with a lifespan of up to 2 years
    • Used in indoor office environments in all industries

    Two-Part Polyester Labels

    Two-Part Polyester Labels include a primary label that remains with the asset and a second, detachable tab for your records. Other features include:

    • Constructed from a 2.0 mil gloss white polyester face stock, over-laminated with a 1.0 mil clear polyester film
    • Designed to clearly display company name, asset number, and/or bar code with a second removable tab to attach to your records
    • Good resistance to general purpose and household cleaners, mild acids, oil and water with a lifespan of up to 2 years
    • Used in indoor office environments in all industries

    Removable Inventory Tags

    In certain instances, companies change equipment usage, departments, or locations and require tags that can be removed and reapplied. Important features of Camcode’s Removable Inventory Tags include:

    • Constructed from 3.5 mil biaxially-oriented polypropylene
    • Designed for inventory that only needs to be labeled on a short-term basis
    • Tags can be repositioned
    • Good resistance to general purpose and household cleaners, mild acids, oil and water with a lifespan of up to 2 years
    • Used in indoor office environments or outdoor environments in the short-term in all industries

    For more check the experts guide to inventory tags.

    Where to Place Your Equipment Tags

    In order to identify the property as company-owned and make the tracking process as easy as possible, tags should be affixed to equipment in the most visible and unobtrusive location.

    A general rule is that tags should be affixed to the front or top of the equipment, if possible. There are specific recommendations for certain types of equipment, including:

    • Desktop computers – The front or top of the tower is preferable. Alternatively, the side can be used if the front or top is not practical.
    • Laptops – On the top of the closed laptop.
    • Scientific equipment – On the front or top. Alternatively, the bottom or back if the front or top is not practical.
    • Ceiling projectors – On the bottom of the projector so that the label is visible from the floor.
    • Monitors (inventorial) – On the front.
    • Large appliances – On the front, when possible, or the back right side if the front is not practical.
    • Electronics – On the back or the bottom right side.
    • Mirrors – On the back right side.
    • Desks – Under the right drawer.
    • Tables – Under the right side.
    • Chairs – Under the right side.

    Which Industries Need Equipment ID Tags?

    • Equipment labels enable many types of organizations to track their assets more effectively. Here’s a look at some of the many industries that benefit from equipment tags:
    • Healthcare. Pricey and date-sensitive medical supplies must be safeguarded against theft.
    • Education. Increasingly, educational institutions rely on high-tech teaching aids, which are frequently passed from teacher to student, student to student, and between departments.
    • Government. Government entities utilize a broad range of devices, from basic office equipment to increasingly sophisticated items, like construction tools and even spacecraft.
    • Oil and Gas. These companies have developed large, complex infrastructures to deliver their products and manage spare parts inventory. Other concerns, such as Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) compliance issues, also need to be taken into account.
    • Utilities. When it comes to repair and maintenance management, utility companies need the most durable tags that can endure the same harsh environmental conditions as the equipment.
    • Telecom and Cable. Equipment tags are used to manage spare inventory that’s kept on hand for when repairs are needed.

    Common Uses for Equipment ID Tags

    Equipment ID tags and metal equipment tags are used across an array of industries and applications. Even industries with highly specific requirements find equipment tags from Camcode that adequately meet their application specifications.

    • Healthcare: The healthcare industry relies on a wide range of equipment and devices to provide patient care in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Equipment ID tags enable healthcare providers to adequately track and monitor life-saving equipment, as well as implement regular maintenance and calibration schedules to ensure equipment is working at peak performance.
    • Education: Educational settings make use of audio-visual equipment, computers, and other technology equipment to deliver presentations and lectures to students and other professionals. Equipment ID tags prove useful for educational institutions that need to track equipment as it’s shared among departments and locations, avoiding issues such as double-booking and unnecessary duplication of equipment.
    • Government: Government entities rely on a wide variety of equipment, ranging from office equipment to field-servicing equipment used to ensure public safety and streamline the delivery of public services. Equipment ID tags enable government agencies to maximize the use of existing equipment and implement ongoing maintenance programs to maximize the useable life of equipment.
    • Warehouse: Inventory isn’t the only thing a modern warehouse needs to track. A variety of equipment is used to manage and move inventory, most of which can benefit from equipment ID tags to streamline data collection and improve workflows throughout the warehouse.
    • Oil and Gas: The oil and gas industry is a 24/7 operation, relying on machinery and equipment every moment of the day. Tracking and monitoring the use of this equipment and scheduling regular maintenance is necessary to ensure that operations continue to run smoothly.
    • Utility: The utility industry, like many other modern industries, makes use of equipment to deliver services to constituents. Much of this equipment is exposed to harsh weather conditions, requiring durable equipment ID tags for continued readability throughout the useable life of equipment.
    • Telecom and Cable: Without working equipment, the telecom and cable industry is faced with many unhappy customers. Equipment tags enable telecom and cable industries to maintain equipment with ongoing maintenance and repairs, ensuring consistency of service delivery to the customers these companies serve, in addition to keeping track of the high-value equipment used for field services and throughout the organization.
    • Manufacturing: Manufacturing means heavy-duty equipment that’s susceptible to failure over time. To keep these expensive assets in optimal working condition, equipment ID tags are used to keep track of ongoing maintenance initiatives, maintain stock replacement parts, easily procure out-of-stock parts, and other initiatives that enable manufacturing companies to keep pace with modern demands.

    Important Considerations When Buying Equipment ID Tags

    Equipment ID tags come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. Customers often focus on price, but other factors are equally – and in many cases more – important. They need to be sure the products will stand up against moisture and extreme temperatures while maintaining legibility for years on end.

    Corporations house a large inventory of devices that support the business, but traditionally, they have been tracked in a scattershot manner. With competition increasing and technology becoming more robust, businesses now have options for identifying and tracking their assets. Equipment identification tags are the foundation upon which more effective equipment management is laid.

    Metal labels for equipment are some of the most durable labels that you can purchase for your asset management needs. Before placing an order for new equipment identification tags, it is important to consider some of the unique qualities of these metal tags. These are a couple of the most important points to keep in mind when you are comparing your options:

    • Compatibility. Always compare the demands of your work environment with the specifications of each metal substrate. Most metals are durable, but some may provide unique protections against extreme temperatures, moisture, and other contaminants. For example, Metalphoto® Extra High Temperature (XHT) bar code labels offer temperature resistance up to 1200°F and are an excellent choice for commercial ovens and equipment operating under extreme conditions. If the equipment tag substrate is not compatible with expected environmental hazards, there is a risk of degradation and damage to the label surface.
    • Attachment Method. Most metal equipment identification tags are rigid and must be attached to a flat surface using an adhesive, bolts, or another mechanical method. Some labels, such as foil equipment tags, are more flexible and can often be placed on textured or curved surfaces. Before making a purchase, it is helpful to consider the points of attachment for any equipment you will be tagging. This will ensure that the metal equipment tags you buy can be installed without any issue.

    Final Thoughts on Equipment Tags

    Trucks, transformers, pallets, manufacturing equipment, and computers are all items that corporations rely on every day to support their business. Because these assets are often spread across the company’s footprint — including across multiple job sites — and shared among teams and departments, it’s not always easy to locate the equipment when it’s needed or maintenance is required.

    That’s where equipment tags come into play: they can be used for any type of equipment, providing easy access to essential data and asset history by simply scanning a barcode.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Questions about the article? Let us help!

    Our sales engineers are experts in automatic asset tracking, tagging and identification,a nd can answer all your questions. Get in touch now.

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