When it comes to growing and scaling, having a greater understanding of your assets is essential, particularly for small businesses. Asset tracking tools, in the form of both software and hardware, enable small businesses to track, maintain and manage their most critical assets.
Having the ability to track physical assets provides small business owners with a range of cost-efficient and time-saving benefits. Such as helping to provide the right data when audits need to be performed. As well as reducing the loss of stock and equipment through theft.
Why Small Businesses Need to Track Their Assets
It can be easy to presume that asset tracking tools are only relevant to large businesses with a huge variety of different assets. But, this isn’t necessarily true. Small businesses need an asset tracking system just as much as large companies – if not more.
Being able to track assets is essential for small businesses that have invested significant budgets and resource into their assets. The likelihood is that these assets will be essential for the day-to-day running of a business. If an asset is unavailable due to loss or unplanned maintenance, then it can have a large impact on overall operations. Essentially disrupting growth and revenue.
By adding tracking tags to assets, such as RFID tags or Barcodes, businesses can track assets in real time. This is a more efficient way to track assets as opposed to using spreadsheets and whiteboards. With 88% of spreadsheets containing at least one error.
Tracking assets allows small businesses to:
- Have greater visibility of assets
- Reduce costs for lost and stolen assets
- Build an asset register
- Provide data as and when it is needed
Small business asset tracking protocols are typically implemented in a company with the sole purpose of reducing costs by defining asset usage. This, in turn, provides data that can be used in a variety of different ways.
The fact that assets can usually be tracked using a mobile device also makes it an easy and effective option for small businesses. This is particularly true if responsibility for asset tracking is shared between staff. For example, a fleet management or logistics business relies on its vehicles to carry out contracted work. If the vehicles aren’t available, then these contracts can’t be fulfilled.
Asset-Related Challenges For Small Business
Without the use of an asset tracking system or asset tagging tools, a business’s operations can suffer. In 2017, over half of the 1100 small businesses that took part in a survey admitted they did not track their assets. Meaning they were more susceptible to risks than the 16% of small businesses who were using Asset Tracking Software.
There are multiple challenges that small business owners face when neglecting asset management protocols. These include:
When it comes to replacing assets, it can be a cost that most small businesses want to avoid. Although replacing ageing assets can be beneficial in the long term, replacing assets that have been lost or stolen can be damaging to revenue. In 2017 alone, the theft of assets in the construction sector surpassed £70 million.
Lack of Real-Time Data
Without a system collecting real-time data and building an accurate asset register, businesses can feel left behind when it comes to real-time data. Users are unable to know where assets are located, which can delay jobs. They also have to manually investigate an asset’s availability and who is using it.
Manual asset management methods can result in multiple errors that are mostly related to human error. This mainly affects inventory management and stock counts. Wrong data input can have a negative impact when it comes to performing audits.
Wasting Employee Time
Typical asset tracking systems provide cloud-based capabilities that allow users to use mobile devices to instantly see where assets are located. Without this, employees are often left to track down equipment themselves without knowledge of who last used it and where it was last placed. This results in a lot of time wasted searching for stock or equipment.
8 Benefits of Using Asset Tracking Software
1. Prevent Assets From Being Lost, Stolen, or Misplaced
By constantly being aware of an asset’s whereabouts, small businesses can prevent loss or theft and quickly locate missing items. This reduces the amount of money spent on replacing lost or stolen goods.
2. Reduce Insurance Premiums
As a result of accurate live tracking and a reduction in loss and theft of assets, insurance premiums can be reduced. For instance, if you have a large number of ghost assets you’ll be paying insurance premiums on assets that don’t actually exist.
3. Track Deliveries and Routes
A key part of an asset tracking system is its ability to provide real-time location tracking. This is essential for business services such as delivery companies as it allows users to verify deliveries and drop-off points on a route.
4. Improve Inventory Management
With tracking systems providing valuable data, stock and inventory management processes can become more efficient. An asset register makes it easier for you to see what inventory you have and what needs to be ordered.
5. Advance Maintenance Planning
Asset tracking systems can provide an in-depth insight into the status of an asset, allowing small businesses to appropriately plan maintenance. Preventive maintenance helps to reduce expensive breakdown and repair costs in the future.
6. Prolong the Asset Life Cycle
Businesses can plan maintenance in a way that can help to extend the longevity of an asset to keep it productive for future use.
7. Automated Data Collection
Manual data collection can be a common practice for small businesses. But, with an asset tracking solution automatically collecting data, you can reduce the need for manual checks and allow teams to focus on other areas of an operation.
8. Improve Auditing
A digitised tracking solution could mean no more manual stock-taking or labour-intensive checks. This helps to reduce the likeliness of errors and costly mistakes.
3 Asset Tracking Workplace Case Studies
Below, we analyse 3 Asset Tracking Case Studies that highlight the competitive advantages of using a tracking system. By analysing the applications and tracking methods used by these companies, you can get an understanding of how tracking systems can impact your business outcomes.
1. Amazon’s Inventory Management
Firstly, we look at the tracking management implemented at Amazon. Keeping in mind, this system organises its inventory to prioritise picking order and speed.
Technical Take Away: Random stow (unorganised inventory) is efficient if your handheld devices can offer an efficient picking order. Knowing the location of assets, via asset tags, can be prioritised to clubbing assets together.
Business Take Away: Most inventory experts suggest that closely related items should be placed together, but Amazon places its inventory randomly. Amazon has focussed on the speed of delivery to customers over organised inventory.
2. Lufthansa Technik’s Equipment Management
Our second case study highlights how Lufthansa Technik, and all of its ground support staff, track all of their ground equipment.
Technical Takeaway: As Lufthansa Technik show, using tracking apps on smartphones can make it easier for employees to track equipment. Therefore eliminating the need to track assets specifically via a specific handheld device. Evaluating Barcode, RFID and NFC tagging options from a user perspective is an effective approach.
Business Takeaway: Lufthansa Technik shows that new and innovative tracking mechanisms can perform better when implemented in a phased manner. Firstly, they placed the asset tracking system in Hamburg and then they rolled it out in Munich and Frankfurt.
3. Stanley Black and Decker
Finally, the third case study analyses how the use of Wi-Fi and RFID tracking helps to improve employee productivity.
Technical Takeaway: Merging two technologies as Wi-Fi and RFID can exponentially increase asset tracking capabilities.
Business Takeaway: As Stanley Black and Decker highlights, a Wi-Fi and RFID tracking system can make it easier for employees to flag issues and arrange assistance. Therefore, improving production efficiency.
Best Asset Tagging Technology for Small Businesses
The key difference between large organisations and small businesses is the amount of revenue they generate. This can directly impact the budget which is allocated to implement tools such as Asset Tracking Software. With this in mind, there are several affordable technology and solutions available to small business owners.
When it comes to choosing the right asset-tracking hardware, there are three key areas that small businesses should be aware of. These are cost, frequency range, and durability.
|Barcode||From 5p a label||Within the line of sight||Easily damaged|
|QR Code||Can be printed on-site||Within the line of sight||Can be scanned even when damaged|
|RFID Tags||Chips inside RFID tags can be pricey||Up to 15 metres||Long-lasting and designed for adverse environments|
|GPS Tracker||From £25 each||Always connected||Strong structure|
|NFC Tags||From 30p for stickers||Within the line of sight||Tough foil design|