Mobile asset tracking is no longer a technological luxury, but an expectation for most organizations.
Clients expect companies to provide a method of tracking deliveries and items along the supply chain, and the majority of employees think that businesses are too slow to switch to digital productivity apps.
However, mobile asset tracking can accomplish much more than meeting customer and staff expectations. For example, mobile apps can track fixed assets as well.
The following information is useful for COOs of companies overseeing a great deal of inventory, or assets that turn over quickly. Those involved with fieldwork will also benefit from a deeper dive into the world of mobile asset tracking.
This post discusses how mobile asset tracking works, as well as the many ways in which your business can benefit from mobile asset tracking.
In this article...
How Does Mobile Asset Tracking Work?
Mobile asset tracking uses an app on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices to track and capture information about assets.
It uses asset management software to record data about the item—where it is, how it’s performing, and much more.
Workforce members and stakeholders then apply this information to make better decisions about the asset as it progresses through its life cycle.
As this video shows, using a mobile app to update asset data and send messages is efficient, easy, accurate, and intuitive. Asset lists are easily customizable and check-in/check-out reminders can apply updates to multiple assets at once.
The information is accessible to any employee provided with authorization credentials. Such software is particularly useful for those working remotely or in the field.
Why Should You Opt for Mobile Asset Tracking?
Mobile asset tracking benefits all members of an organization, from the general workforce and middle managers to decision makers.
It helps to create a more efficient and trust-dependent organization in which information is quickly and precisely transferred.
Employees receive the equipment and information they need to attend to their work more quickly, and those in a stakeholding position are armed with data to make intelligent, well-informed decisions about resource placement and distribution.
Let’s look at a few more benefits of mobile asset tracking.
Minimize Investment in Additional Tracking Gear
Installing asset tracking software does not automatically mean the purchase of new and expensive equipment.
In fact, everything your employees need to track assets probably came to work with them, and is probably the first item they turn to when taking a break or attempting to track down a supervisor to answer a question.
In other words, asset tracking software works on any cell phone or tablet. Here’s why this is a plus:
- Not only is this a cost-effective solution for a business, it ensures that training and work will take place on hardware with which employees are already familiar.
- Using smartphones rather than certain other types of equipment slashes the cost of ownership.
- Scanning can take place at multiple sites.
- There is less need for specialized IT devices.
In addition, companies might also consider a “bring your own device” policy, which shifts the time-burden of purchasing and care, while ensuring that employees are comfortable with their equipment.
Update and Manage Data From the Field
Whether at an office branch, in the field, or visiting with a client, employees can quickly access, manage, and update key asset data.
No matter where they are, they are able to rapidly and accurately share information with the rest of the team. This feature saves time as well as money. In addition:
- With the ability to instantly access important data or adjust schedules, employees in the field show respect for the client’s time and need for immediate answers or information.
- Employees can integrate important information about their physical location, as well as the assets present there.
- Data that is included via mobile asset tracking technology is also more accurate than that which might be handwritten or manually entered into a spreadsheet.
- Scanning eliminates the distractions and discomforts which might arise from a temporary workplace in an unfamiliar location.
- It is possible to generate reports with just a click or two; no need for an extended or time-consuming presentation or slide show.
No matter what the employee’s goal in the field, mobile asset tracking simplifies and streamlines it.
Minimal Training Required
Outfitting employees with smartphones or tablets to perform scanning operations saves money and time in training.
Your workforce is likely already accustomed to heavy smartphone use in their personal lives, so integrating a tracking app into their workday will require minimal disruption for training.
While familiarity with the app is required, the right tracking software is intuitive and simple, so employees will only need a brief description of how to categorize and enter scanned data.
A mobile asset tracking system’s app will also allow employees to communicate with other members of the workforce.
If necessary, they can easily integrate photos, PDFs, images, scans, and much more.
These supplements to scanned data are invaluable in many ways.
Employees will have used these functions many times in daily life, and well-designed mobile app interfaces take advantage of this.
For instance, drop-down menus will feature an arrow pointing downward, an icon of a disk will indicate a saved function, and a red X usually means “delete.”
Best of all, if an employee chooses his or her own device, he or she will have additional familiarity with the hardware, and the mobile app and software will be even easier to integrate.
Get Information About Assets With Asset Tags
Tags are a flexible and scalable solution for tracking and managing assets. Learning about the many different kinds of tags enhances your ability to make an informed decision about your business.
Companies can use a variety of tags to achieve their tracking and data collection goals:
- QR codes: Squares with black and white color alterations which hold a great deal of data, including images; it is possible to scan them with a smartphone or tablet.
- Barcodes: Horizontal rectangles with narrow black bars, mostly used in retail.
- BTLE (Bluetooth Low Energy): The same technology used to pair headphones to a smartphone or a printer to a computer is utilized to provide a low-power stream of data from one object to another. It is then stored in the cloud.
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification): Labels are scannable en masse and from within an item. An electromagnetic field transmits the data to a remote receiver.
- NFC (Near-field communication): Two electronic devices exchange information at a low speed but in a highly secure manner. Smartphone payment systems such as ApplePay and PayPal use this form of technology.
With these forms of communication in place, a company knows at all times where an item is located, who has used it last, and where it is scheduled to go next.
This provides the ability to allocate and route resources and employees more efficiently.
Streamline Maintenance and Work Order Fulfillment
Mobile asset tracking renders maintenance more efficient and less expensive.
The complex task of managing many disparate assets at once is far easier and more accurate with the use of smartphone apps and mobile tracking software.
Here are just a few ways supervising and maintaining multiple items is more effective with this technology:
- Preventive maintenance appointments can be made automatically.
- Daily workflow is optimized.
- Third-party maintenance teams are provided with accurate and complete information on the scene.
- Operators manuals and manufacturer recommendations are easily digitized and included with the item’s performance data.
- Work orders are standardized, legibly submitted, and stored in the cloud.
- Major breakdowns are quickly triaged.
- Communication is streamlined.
- Schedules across projects and branches are synchronized.
- Project status updates are provided quickly and in many different formats.
Additionally, maintenance job queues are visible to all members of a project team. Information is quickly updated across time zones and work sites.
Reduce the Number of Lost or Stolen Assets
Mobile asset tracking serves as an effective deterrent against theft and misplacement. Assets enabled with GPS provides protection in a number of ways:
- Positive identification marks the asset as registered and tracked, which deters thieves.
- QR codes have a unique identifier, which helps to prove ownership.
- Insurance quotes might be lower with such theft and loss protections in place.
- For items placed outside, as well as large electronics equipment, asset tags are easily welded into place.
- With smaller items that stay indoors, asset tags can be affixed with difficult-to-remove archival glue.
- Asset tags for indoor items can bear tags made of durable vinyl, polyester, or plastic, depending on the company’s needs.
- GPS-enabled tracking provides the item’s last known location, as well as a trail of custodianship.
- Automated check-in/check-out systems provide reminders for due dates and alert security personnel to overdue items, as well as notifying them when an item that has not been checked out leaves the premises.
Such measures, especially when combined with security footage, cause loss from stolen items to shrink. These tactics are especially effective in the construction and health care industries.
Remove Ghost Assets
What are ghost assets, and how are they a detriment to a company?
Ghost assets are items that are still on an organization’s books, but are inoperable, lost, stolen, or otherwise unusable.
That means a company is paying for storage, upkeep, insurance, and taxes on an item which is no longer in place.
Checking for and removing ghost assets is easy and automatic with mobile asset tracking.
The system updates when employees remove an item from service, and overall inventory then reflects the actual number of available assets.
Productivity also suffers when ghost assets are present.
Employees might see that an item is accessible for purchase or use when it is not. This often results in angry customers and frustrated teammates.
Trust within the company, as well as with clients, is in danger of eroding quickly when ghost assets are present.
Inaccurate inventory costs also often result in fruitless attempts to find an item that isn’t even in the facility, or has long since been disposed of.
Wasted time is wasted money and contributes heavily to employee dissatisfaction. The elimination of ghost assets, then, benefits every part of the company.
Improve Lines of Communication
Mobile asset tracking improves communication with team members as well as customers.
It can provide message alerts for missing items or indicate when assets on the supply chain have moved or if they are ready for pickup.
As a result, customer disputes will be quickly resolved.
In fact, mobile asset tracking can reduce the number of disputes to begin with, as the client can see how an asset is traveling, where it is, and when he or she might receive it.
The company, for its part, has an identifiable chain of custody and can conduct an immediate investigation if an item has gone astray.
In the same way, employees in the field are able to consult GPS updates to know when an item or teammate will arrive at their location.
Misuse of company vehicles and heavy equipment also tends to drop when GPS tracking is enabled. This can result in fuel savings, lowered insurance rates, and decreased damage.
Geo-fenced areas can also serve as a fleet tracking solution, helping with payroll accuracy and arrival estimates. They are also useful in potential law enforcement inquiries.
When both clients and employees become part of an all-inclusive mobile tracking system, business is conducted more effectively.
Whether it’s on a tablet or smartphone, instituting mobile asset tracking harnesses a complex and fast technology with which your employees are likely already familiar.
Mobile asset tracking results in increased productivity, lower costs, and improved communication.
Data is easily managed from multiple locations, while maintenance and work order fulfillment is streamlined.
Furthermore, expensive ghost assets are easily removed, and loss of income due to misplaced and stolen assets is reduced.
Learning about different forms of mobile asset tracking helps stakeholders decide about the form of hardware and software that constitutes the best fit for the company.