RFID
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RFID 24-7 $1M-a-Day Challenge Day 4: Bank of America ($20M-plus)

Sector: Finance

Savings: $10-25M (estimate over 5 years)

Submitted by RFID Global Solution

Bank of America is savings upwards of $20 million from an RFID deployment to track more than 100,000 IT assets at 25 data centers in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. BoA estimates that tagging items like servers, blades and other IT equipment will save “tens of millions” over the next five to 10 years in reduced labor savings and increased efficiencies for its audit process.

Bank of America has achieved more than a 90 percent reduction in the man hours needed to inventory its data center assets, and more than a 60 percent reduction in labor costs after expanding an initial deployment at 17 sites to 25 data centers.

Bank of America has tagged more than 100,000 IT assets with RFID.

“Our site in the London Borough of Croydon, U.K. was recently re-audited,” says Timothy McGee, vice president and technical project team manager at Bank of America. “Paper or bar code-based auditing would have required at least two weeks with half a dozen people. Our team completed the entire process in four days with two handheld RFID scanners.”

McGee says the “tens of millions” in cost savings is just the tip of the iceberg. “All this is going to build,” he says. “Every year we anticipate greater and greater cost savings, and I would expect the bank to continue to leverage the technology into other applications.”

For example, Bank of America has started to request that its IT OEMs like IBM, HP, Sun and Dell tag its new servers and other equipment at the factory to support BoA’s supply chain activities.

“At some point in the near future, we will receive advanced shipping notices from our OEMs that include RFID asset tag numbers,” says McGee. “When the equipment arrives, the loading dock portals will read the tags and communicate to the system in real time. In other words, all these inefficient manual processes—literally folks running around on the floor finding stuff and sending emails—will be automated.

“We can even automate the notification of the receipt of new equipment so that the data center personnel responsible for rack-and-stack are made instantly aware that the equipment has arrived. So you start to see the power of all this.”

Bank of America’s ET&D team is also planning the creation of de-commissioned zones, which would utilize fixed RFID portals at the entrances of dedicated rooms or in areas within existing server rooms. In such zones, the status of IT assets would be automatically converted to “de-commissioned” when wheeled through the portal, eliminating the need to manually change the status of assets with handheld readers.

Upon the successful deployment of the initial 17 data centers, BoA tasked RFID Global Solution to roll out its Visi-Trac real time asset-tracking platform to an additional eight sites. Omni-ID’s Prox passive tags were specified for these new deployments, expanding the total RFID system to more than 100,000 tagged assets, one of the largest RFID-based asset tracking programs in the financial services industry. The project also relied on Alien Technology and Motorola fixed reader portals for positioning at data center doorways and loading docks, and Motorola handheld readers for inventory and audit purposes.

Due to strict financial reporting regulations governing financial institutions, such as Sarbanes-Oxley in the U.S. and the Companies Bill in the U.K., regulated institutions must audit IT assets regularly, a difficult task considering the volume and frequent movement of servers and other equipment in and out of data centers.

“IT data centers are very fluid environments,” says Diana Hage, chief executive officer at RFID Global Solution. “One might think that servers get placed in racks and never move, but the reality is that modern data centers are always being reconfigured—for growth, power optimization, data availability and bandwidth, and to upgrade systems at regular intervals. IT assets are constantly on the move and all that movement needs to be tracked and flow into inventory and financial systems.”

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