Many fleets are leveraging Near Field Communication (NFC) tags to streamline their equipment checkout process. NFC makes it easy for fleet managers to monitor equipment usage and hold team members accountable.
What is Near Field Communication (NFC)?
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a wireless technology that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the fleet industry. NFC enables short-range communication between two compatible devices—typically an NFC tag and a smartphone or tablet.
NFC tags are small chips that store data and are often incorporated into stickers, magnets, or labels. Most smartphones and tablets are able to read the data in NFC tags at a short-range (about four inches).
While NFC isn’t necessarily a new technology, it’s becoming more widely used across industries as a way to quickly communicate information regarding inventory, equipment usage, shipment information and more. For fleets, NFC provides a solution for monitoring vehicle and equipment checkouts.
How Does NFC Work?
One of the biggest advantages to NFC technology is how easy it is to implement. Once you adhere NFC tags to each piece of equipment, you’re ready to start using them with your mobile fleet management app.
Most NFC antennas are located on the top left corner of the back of your phone or tablet (usually near the camera). Users can tap the tag with their mobile device, and receive a notification to open a quick action menu in their mobile app.
How Can NFC Benefit Fleets?
Now that we’ve discussed the ins and outs of NFC technology, let’s discuss how it can improve fleet operations.
Fleet managers who manage a variety of equipment and tools can increase productivity across operations by using NFC technology. Tracking equipment can be overwhelming if you don’t have a way to easily view equipment assignments in real time.
NFC enables you and your team to save time with a fast equipment checkout process. Users can scan NFC tags to view equipment availability and quickly assign tools to themselves in a matter of seconds.
While a quicker checkout system can help your fleet maximize efficiency, there are even more advantages to NFC tags. Let’s go over a few key benefits of NFC technology.
Requires No Additional Hardware
Every fleet should be able to track their tools and equipment, but the steep price of barcode scanners and other hardware can be cost-prohibitive for some fleets. Not only is the cost of the hardware itself not in the budget, but once you factor in additional training and resolving any technical issues, many fleet managers don’t see the value in it.
NFC technology is easy to implement because it doesn’t require purchasing additional hardware. Fleet managers can purchase fairly inexpensive NFC tags, and team members can use their mobile devices for scanning equipment.
Not only is this more cost-effective, but this system is also easier for team members to adopt. Equipment tracking software, like Fleetio, offers a mobile app with a simple user-interface.
These days, almost everyone has a smartphone in their pockets. Instead of carrying around bulky barcode scanners, each team member can simply pull out their mobile device, scan an NFC tag and go about their day.
Promote Team Accountability
Managing equipment checkouts and assignments with paper or whiteboards can often result in miscommunications that lead to damaged or lost equipment. It can be difficult to track who last used a piece of equipment and hold team members accountable when tools are broken or missing.
Implementing a mobile equipment checkout process allows you to maintain an audit trail of equipment usage. Fleet managers can track all past and current equipment assignments in tool tracking software to help locate lost or missing equipment.
Having operators to assign equipment to themselves by scanning NFC tags allows them to play an active role in securing, maintaining and organizing equipment. This allows you to cultivate a culture of accountability across your team and empower them to communicate with you about equipment status and condition.
Receive Real-Time Notifications
Scanning NFC tags with a mobile fleet management app allows users to instantaneously relay information to their administrators and fleet managers. Instead of assuming where your tools and equipment are, you can track assignments and location in real time in your configurable dashboard.
Operators can update equipment information on their mobile devices to inform managers about equipment status and health. This key insight can improve the way you manage operations and ensure you have real-time visibility into every aspect of your fleet.
Using NFC With Fleet Management Software
As technology advances, fleet managers can encode NFC tags to efficiently manage assets. This will allow them to instantly manage equipment from anywhere and monitor assignments as their team checks out equipment.
To use, managers can simply adhere an NFC tag to an asset (by a vehicle’s fuel tank, on the side of a hedge trimmer, etc.). When users tap the NFC tag with their mobile device, they can assign equipment to themselves and perform other actions in the app.
Most mobile apps use basic NTAG213 chips, which are fairly inexpensive (around $0.37/tag in the U.S.) and can be purchased from a variety of retailers. The accessibility and ease-of-use of NFC tags ensure you can improve your team’s productivity and keep tabs on your equipment on the go.