Asset Tracking – Basics and Case Studies
What is Asset Tracking?
Asset is an item of property owned by a person or a company, regarded as having value and available to meet debts, commitments, or legacies. The method which is used to track the physical assets is called Asset Tracking which is also sometimes referred as Asset Management. This method involves scanning barcode labels or reading GPS or RFID tags which are attached to assets. Mostly these technologies are used for indoor tracking purposes.
Assets are one of the key elements of any organisation. Keeping track of the assets to maintain them can save money and the time which can utilise the process of managing the assets to provide reliable return to the stakeholders of the company. Basically, an asset is a key component of the company’s profit equation. Hence it is important for any business to manage its assets that includes both fixed and liquid assets.
Why Should You Track Your Assets?
Considering reasons why any company should track its assets, there are few major reasons.
1. Ease of access comes in the first place of the reasons since it can lead the company to both profit or loss directions indirectly. Keeping track of assets gives the ability to tell where the assets are located, how are they used and what are the changes or when changes were made on them.
2. Company will be able to provide an accurate inventory report which will be used for many purposes including finance and insurance.
3. Asset management by tracking can also be used to retain the accuracy of the amortization rates which will ensure the accuracy of the financial statements of the business.
4. Asset tracking can make a direct impact on the company’s finance by reducing administrative costs since the manual tracking or locating costs are eliminated.
Asset tracking is directly involved in the financial aspects of the company. Tracking helps to identify the ghost assets which are known as the items that have been lost or stolen but still reflect in the inventory records. Once assets are scrapped or sold, it will be automatically reflected on the system and assets can be removed from the books and gain some space for the company. Also, asset management can reduce maintenance costs, and bring more efficiency to the operations. Some of the companies in the industry are required to follow regulatory compliance such as AIB certification to have a comprehensive asset tracking system.
Which Industries use Asset Tracking Intensively?
Industries such as Logistics and Warehousing, Automation, Healthcare, Construction and Education use asset tracking technologies intensively.
Asset tracking is the most emerging technology in the Logistics and Warehousing Industry. Most of the bigger scale companies have already started to use the technology. In the logistics sector, asset tracking is used in the loading and unloading of cargo areas. In the transportation sector, the whole carrier is tracked with the GPS technology. Customer and supplier both have the advantage of knowing the exact real-time location of the cargo. Suppliers can gain the trust by assuring the accuracy and the customer can be ready to receive the cargo. When it comes to the warehousing, each commodity can be tracked with the assets tracking. Most of the warehouses are using the technology to make the process more reliable by reducing the human errors. Companies tend to use RFID technology over the barcode technology these days. There are several pros of using RFID instead of barcode. But both technologies are still capable of making the warehouse processes more efficient and reliable. Both active and passive RFID technologies are used as per the requirement. Stickers attached to the commodity is used as the emitter and the receivers are fixed inside the premises. Occasions such as relocating warehouse can be a situation where this RFID technology can be utterly used. It can reduce hours of manual work of the workers. The only negative factor of the RFID is the cost of operation.
Considering the warehouse processes, from the place where cargo is received into the warehouse to the place where cargo is dispatched, asset tracking can be used. When the cargo is stored in the racks of the warehouse, RFID technology provides the exact location of each item. That eliminates the manual paperwork and also the human errors of the process. No ghost items or misplaced items inside the warehouse and 100% saving on auditors for inventory items. More accuracy leads to more reliability. World’s largest warehouses such as Amazon use RFID and Barcodes technology. Almost all the warehouse processes are automated, and each item is captured all the time inside the warehouse and also inside the premises until it leaves the premises. Asset tracking is mostly an automated process in the warehouse and logistics sector. System based operations are supervised by the humans.
The IT sector is one of the biggest industry which uses the assets tracking technologies. According to the International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM), IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a set of business practices that incorporates IT assets across the business units within the organisation. IT assets management typically involves gathering detailed hardware and software inventory information which used to make decisions in purchases and assets consumption. Hence it is sometimes referred to IT inventory management.
Healthcare is another major industry which uses asset tracking technologies in the modern days. Traditional healthcare industry where everything has been done manually is currently transforming into an industry which uses modern technology. Though the RFID systems are fairly new, complex and costly to implement, healthcare facilities are embracing the RFID technology due to the effectiveness and the efficiency. Along with the increment of the size of the coverage field, the cost increases. Hence studies have been done to optimise the RFID readers’ placement in healthcare premises. Though the barcode technology is less costly, it is difficult to use such technology in the healthcare sector with the infrastructure and time convenience. Real time tracking and the location identification are key advantages of having this kind of technology in a hospital since every second in a hospital is critically important. RFID technology is used for the identification of patients, employees and visitors. Reading the tag will give the current situation of the patient. Other than these, RFID technology shall be used for the fixed asset tracking too.
In the retail sector, usually passive tags are preferred for tagging goods as they are much cheaper, long-lived, lightweight and have a smaller footprint. Several big companies such as Wal-Mart, Gillette, CVS have moved to the RFID technology to gain ease of tracking their assets.