Asset tracking refers to tracing items an organization owns and having real-time information about their location and status. The assets can be mobile, which means they move from one place to another, or fixed, which means they stay put.
Asset tracking uses asset management software to follow each item as it flows through positions. Employees who take part in asset tracking use handheld scanners or smartphones to mark the item and its place.
Some asset tracking systems also use GPS coordinates or RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to transmit data.
Asset related data is more than just about the location. Asset tracking lets you know:
- where the asset was previously
- the last time it was serviced
- how it is performing
In this post, we will examine asset tracking, the role it plays in everyday life of an organization, and the many ways it can help make businesses more efficient, employee-friendly, and profitable.
In this article...
Who Needs Asset Tracking?
There’s almost no end to the people and organizations that need asset tracking systems. If you have assets, you can track and manage them. That means any company, non-profit, or service firm can benefit from this modern, easy-to-use technology.
Here are just a few examples of industries which see many benefits in electronically tracing assets:
- Nonprofit: Seeing how donated items move through a system or are distributed to recipients.
- Education: Ensuring employees know the location of common high-ticket items (i.e., projectors), which often change position.
- Warehousing: Employers can optimize placement of items for picking and order fulfillment.
- Healthcare: Tracking a specific piece of medical equipment or PPE as it moves from stock to patient use to sterilization.
- Leasing: Pinpointing the location of valuable leased items as vehicles or heavy machinery.
- IT: Tech teams can rapidly confirm the delivery of high-value items and gain detailed information about the asset they are repairing or updating.
- Day spas: Noting how many cycles are left on non-invasive treatment resources
- Construction: Allowing outside tech teams the ability to see a piece of machinery’s maintenance history at a moment’s notice.
More and more companies are using asset tracking to not only keep track of their in-house items but to oversee the efficiency of their supply chain networks.
“A new study from Juniper Research found that the number of businesses using asset tracking solutions will reach 90 million this year and exceed 114 million by 2025. This represents a growth of 27% over the next five years.”Supply and Demand Chain Executive
Keeping the whole supply chain in check became particularly crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown when in-person transactions ground to a halt, and logistics suddenly became a significant concern.
Organizations with asset tracking already in place were better prepared for the pandemic, as their employees and management teams were already familiar with surveying their assets virtually, as well as the mechanics of using scanners to speed along data sharing.
If you are a small business owner, read our Small Business Asset Tracking Guide.
Five Benefits of Asset Tracking
Once an asset tracking system is in place, its benefits become apparent quickly. The asset management software creates an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the company’s assets with each scan, together with a detailed history of each item.
Dedicated asset tracking provides:
- hard data to guide decision making
- aids locating lost items
- allows full capitalization on the capabilities of each asset
Let’s examine a few more benefits of asset tracking.
1) Easy reports and audits
Asset tagging provides essential information about where an item is and how it is performing.
It delivers immediate data about asset depreciation and maintenance schedules. Having this data is useful to operators, but also to employees filing a warranty claim or working with outside contractors.
Asset tracking provides real-time information about vital equipment, including:
- Equipment health
- Precise location
- System efficiency
Even more importantly, staff members and management teams who require this information can access it virtually and instantaneously, freeing operators to do their jobs in the field while providing accurate data to decision-makers.
2) Prolonged asset life
Many company assets targeted for tracking came with considerable investment.
These can include custom tools, vehicles, high-tech equipment, and heavy machinery. Equipment that operates on timed use, work hours, or mileage is also well-served by the asset tracking system.
It’s most efficient for the organization to keep these items in good working order as long as possible and asset tracking makes this possible in several ways:
- Synchronizes preventative maintenance
- Alerts employees to potential downtime
- Encourages instant reporting from the field
Operators and staff members in the field also receive reminders about equipment checks, such as checking oil levels or seeing to filter changes. These valuable insights can lead to more informed and faster decisions about repair and replacement, which lengthen the life of any asset.
Check our article on Preventive Maintenance Checklist to prolong your asset life.
3) Better resources allocation and equipment utilization
When industries rely on shift work or management responsibilities that change according to market conditions, they benefit from receiving standardized knowledge. Asset management increases the number of eyes on a project and the resources it involves, providing resource accuracy and transparency.
If this data is uniformed and available at the tap of a screen, teams can count on more streamlined communication.
Asset tracking encourages employees to:
- take a broader view of their tasks
- see how their work affects their part of a logistics chain or complex mission
- better understand the conditions and objectives of their co-workers
To be resource-efficient, you need to have control and overview of your assets, from their location to condition, which brings us to the next point.
4) Knowing the location and condition of your assets
In many fast-paced industries sprawled across worksites (such as education, construction, and health care), it’s easy for equipment to become mislaid or quietly go out the door with an employee, either on purpose by accident.
Asset tracking prevents that as it can:
- deter theft
- protect rented equipment
- prevent time wasted looking for an item
Further, by placing all maintenance costs and details in the same place, everyone involved with the asset can see this critical information at the same time.
GoCodes even has a US patent for facilitating return of lost or stolen assets.
5) Better regulatory compliance
Proving compliance on any number of regulations, such as city ordinances and those from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is much easier with asset management software. All employees contribute to the goal of regulatory compliance by simply scanning an asset’s barcode or QR tag.
Auto-tracked data takes away human interpretation and pen-and-paper errors as variables recorded by the software are more clear and precise.
Those variables include:
- heat levels
- accumulated work hours
- turbine speed
When it’s time for an audit or compliance, auto-generated reports are immediately available for showing.
Tips for Implementing Asset Tracking In Your Company
Asset tracking is a smart investment, but the software is only as good as the plan implanted to use it. Here are some suggestions for optimizing your new system.
Choose Effective Scanning Technology
Asset management systems can operate in several forms of technology.
The oldest available format is the barcode, as you might see on retail tags. However, this form of tracking can store limited data and requires specific handheld equipment.
On the other side, QR technology can manage much more information. QR codes are black and white boxes encoded with information and a smartphone app can scan them.
Read more about different scanning technologies here.
Match Your Organization’s Needs to Asset Tracking Software
Some asset tracking systems are designed for specific industries, such as construction or health care.
For example, inventory software is useful for businesses with high turnover rates and arms decision-makers with valuable information about stock levels.
To choose the best solution, assess how your organization’s scanning system and asset tracking software can best serve your objectives of efficiency and increased profits.
Your objectives could include:
- Tracking and placement of physical items
- Software license information
- Shipping details
- Preventative and reactive maintenance records
- Management of contracts
Carefully Choose Which Items to Track
For the best information on which assets to track, speak to the operators and employees who are in closest contact with the items you’re thinking of tracing. The answers may surprise you.
Think beyond obvious items such as heavy machinery and items in the office maintenance closets. Survey accountants, vendors, managers, and engineers about the information they truly need.
Ask employees and co-workers such questions as:
- Which items go missing the most and require time for you to find?
- What kind of technical information will help you do your job more efficiently?
- If you were training another employee to use this equipment, which limitations and capabilities should he or she know of?
It doesn’t make sense to track low-value items, so don’t overload your management system with unnecessary information.
Learn more about which assets to track in our Asset Tagging Best Practices Guide.
Ensure Each Item’s Tracking Number Is Unique
Your asset’s serial number is not unique.
If your organization owns more of the same items, they can become easily confused and throw preventative maintenance schedules into chaos, especially if they are at different points in their life cycle.
Besides, assigning a code via serial number doesn’t protect you if the competitor down the road is using the same system with identical serial numbers. Choose a system that offers the security of individual numbers.
Unique identifiers avoid:
- Data noise
- Incorrect inventory counts
- Inaccurate delivery to customers and contractors
- Confusion with items within your own company or with a competitor’s
GoCodes’ patented QR tags provide a unique identifier for each item. Their uniqueness increases security and provides a flexible, customizable form of asset tracking for any type of organization.
Form a Useful Information Base
Asset tracking can provide a wealth of useful information. But you need to have good foundations. If you base asset tracking on inaccurate or outdated information, the errors can quickly compile, and you will waste time unsnarling it.
Take care to include only what’s necessary and eliminate what isn’t. Consider including:
- Maintenance records
- Brief physical descriptions
- Customer interaction questions
- Service details
- Links to operator’s manuals
By taking the time to form a database of up to date information when you begin asset tracking, you can customize your system and lay a rich, accurate, and efficient foundation of data from the beginning.
Decide On Employee Accountability
Not every single one of your employees needs to track assets.
For example, if your asset management software focuses on high-tech items requiring constant updates, repair, and monitoring, your Information Technology team should scan away. Employees in Human Resources, however, are far less likely to require scanners or appropriate cell phone apps.
Chances are that employees who analyze and act on the scanned data may not need to perform scanning operations. It makes little sense for a contractor to run to and fro on an enormous construction site scanning each item when localized workers and craftsmen can perform the same task.
By identifying which employees are responsible for which assets, you increase efficiency as well as employee accountability.
Asset tracking and appropriate asset management software are useful in any number of organizations. This technology invites cross-department communication and allows management teams hundreds of miles from a worksite to monitor equipment efficiency and condition.
Accountability, efficiency, technical accuracy, and compliance can all quickly improve with a well-developed and carefully implemented asset tracking suite.
GoCodes Can Help
We use QR code tags with a unique visual code that you can scan with your smartphone. When scanned, GoCodes tags provide GPS information about equipment location, making asset tracking easy.
Sign up for a free trial here.