# July 26, 2016

Why sensors with changeable batteries are costing you money, time and could damage art.

In the art market, there are two main wireless sensor options (‘tags’):

• Ultra-long life with sealed casings.
• Shorter lifespan but with changeable batteries.

The question comes up time and again – which is the right choice? From conversations with curators, conservators and security directors it seems a sealed, long life tag is the only viable option.
The main reasons are as follows:

1. Art handling, its associated risks, and monetary / time cost.
2. Potential for dangerous battery leakage.
3. Environmental impact of using too many batteries.


Handling Cost. The average cost of changing a tag/battery is between €30-90 per artwork. This doesn’t take into consideration the planning time and opportunity cost for all the professionals involved. Costs rise further when insurers stipulate that a lending institution’s curator be present when moving a loan artwork. The handling process must be planned in advance and typically occurs outside of visitor hours making it more disruptive to staff, and expensive. Our first client, The National Gallery (London), would not accept tags that lasted less than 3 years, or those with a heartbeat interval longer than a minute. They were adamant that changing tags or batteries that often with a collection of 2,000 paintings would be too cost prohibitive to consider.

Handling Time. Hanging requires at least two art handlers - sometimes more for larger pieces - and the presence of a curator, registrar or both. According to our survey, small paintings take up to 10 minutes to remove and rehang, but larger ones take longer, particularly if the handlers use a ‘secure’ hanging method.

Handling Risk. Every time an artwork is handled, there is a risk involved in subjecting it to damage. Simply put, the less an artwork is moved, the less chance of accidental damage

Environmental Impact. The environmental impact of multiple battery changes is by definition far greater than using a single, long-life recyclable tag like that produced by Fortecho Solutions.

The Dangers of Battery Leakage. Modern long-life batteries use lithium. Lithium burns if it is exposed to moisture, which – while rare – can potentially cause irreparable damage to any artwork it touches. This is why Fortecho supplies long-life, ultrasonically sealed tags for paintings.

Conclusion
For 20 years, Fortecho Solutions has been supplying its clients with long-life art-specific tags. We are now the only supplier to manufacture a sealed tag with a battery life well exceeding 7 years while transmitting a heartbeat every 30 seconds. When our tag dies, we replace it with another, benefitting from 7-10 years of technological advancement. Our nearest competitors offer tags with battery life up to 2 years (or 4 to 5 battery changes to achieve the same life as a Fortecho tag), making Fortecho the winning choice.

Find out more about Fortecho and how we can help you protect your assets here, or by clicking on the contact tab above.