From small brick and mortar retailers to large enterprises with multiple facilities, deploying an effective asset tracking solution to track physical assets can be hugely beneficial. Particularly for asset-intensive businesses that rely heavily on their fixed assets to generate revenue. With advancements in IoT and cloud-based software, there are a number of various tools to help businesses track and monitor their most valuable assets. But, there are three key asset tracking solutions that stand out above the rest.
Why Businesses Should Track Their Fixed Assets
Typically, the purpose of asset tracking tools is to help answer the question; “how much of (something) do I have?”. But, with advancements in tagging tools and computerised systems, the process of tracking fixed assets has become much more. For instance, modern asset tracking systems can be used to:
- Automate stock control and inventory management
- Calculate asset depreciation
- Monitor machinery conditions
- Plan maintenance
- Optimise asset lifecycle management
By implementing an asset tracking solution, businesses can begin to build a real-time directory of all their fixed assets in one place. Also known as a fixed asset register.
Asset data within an asset register includes purchase costs, last know locations, maintenance history, user history, and much more. This data is essential for asset-intensive businesses who need to be aware of the location and working condition of all fixed assets.
To build and access a fixed asset register in the most time-efficient manner, businesses have the choice of various asset tagging solutions. Three of the most utilised tagging technologies are GPS, Barcode and QR code, and RFID.
Tracking Assets in Real-Time With GPS
What Is GPS Asset Tracking?
GPS (Global Positioning System) technology is an extremely common tracking tool. It can be found in modern smartphones, satellite navigation systems, and in the microchips of household pets.
GPS trackers enable users to track anyone or anything in real-time, working over a string of connected satellite system networks. These capabilities make it an extremely useful tracking technology for businesses that have a number of large and moveable fixed assets such as vehicles.
How to Track Assets With GPS
The advanced capabilities of today’s Asset Tracking Software vendors have taken GPS technology and implemented it into the workplace to track business assets. This allows for real-time tracking, live locations, and historical location data for each fixed asset.
However, GPS tracking can be more beneficial for some businesses than others. For instance, using GPS to track larger assets such as vehicles and machinery would be more effective than using GPS to track furniture and equipment in an office facility.
The ability to track assets in real-time is achieved by either using a specified handheld GPS device or via a cloud-based app. A cloud-based app, which is offered in many top-quality asset tracking systems, would allow users to see real-time locations across desktops, tablets, and mobiles.
5 Advantages of GPS Asset Tracking
- GPS trackers tend to be small devices that can be placed anywhere
- Devices are designed with long-lasting battery life or have hardwired capabilities
- Provide instant access to real-time tracking, live location, and historical location data
- Provide pinpoint location data
- Users can have access to all asset data on mobile devices
Using Cost-Efficient Barcode Labels
What Is Barcode Asset Tracking?
Barcode tracking is a relatively easy-to-use and cost-efficient way to track assets. It works by simply entering an asset’s data (date received, maintenance schedule, etc.) into a barcode tracking system and building a unique barcode label.
The barcode label is then printed out and attached to the right asset, allowing barcode readers or smartphones to scan it and view the stored data.
How to Track Assets With Barcode
A single barcode has the ability to hold and store extensive data regarding each asset. Meaning, in one scan, users can instantly retrieve all available information about that asset.
There are many benefits to choosing a barcoding system over other tagging technologies, such as RFID tags. For instance, barcodes are cheaper to produce and can significantly increase the speed of asset tracking.
But, the most beneficial factor of using a barcode tracking system is the high reduction in errors. The typical error rate for human data entry is 1 per 300 characters. Whereas, the error rate of a barcode scanner can be as accurate as 1 error in 36 trillion characters.
5 Advantages of Barcode Asset Tracking
- Store an extensive amount of data (up to 4000 characters of text) on one label
- Significantly reduce human data-entry errors
- Increase the speed of asset knowledge as opposed to manual data collection
- Cheaper to produce, even in large quantities
- Can be scanned on smartphones with cloud-based apps and built-in QR scanners
Increasing Asset Tracking Speed With RFID Tags
What is RFID Asset Tracking?
Prompted by the technological boom of the Internet of Things, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) has become a popular tracking technology for organisations that rely heavily on their assets.
In the last 20 years, the worldwide adoption of asset tracking solutions has peaked throughout the business world. With Manufacturing, Logistics, Retail, and Healthcare sectors leading the charge, it’s no wonder why the global asset tracking market share is estimated to be worth $36.3 billion by 2025.
RFID asset tracking works by loading an RFID tag with data and attaching it to a relevant asset. Through an RFID tag’s pulsating radio waves, a reader is able to capture the stored data. Eventually collecting it in an asset management system where the data can be monitored and actioned.
Naturally, there are three types of RFID tags:
- Active RFID tags that are powered by a battery and send out a continuous signal for a reader to receive
- Passive RFID tags that have no battery and wait for a signal from the reader to respond
- Semi-passive RFID tags that have a battery, but wait for a signal from the reader to respond
How to Track Assets With RFID
There are many benefits to using an RFID system in the workplace, as opposed to a barcode tracking system. For instance, an RFID tag needs no line of sight for it to function. Meaning it can be activated from a distance. Whereas, a barcode would need to be scanned in line of sight with no obstructions between the label and reader.
RFID can also be hugely efficient when it comes to reading the data from multiple asset tags. A barcode scanner would scan one asset at a time, whereas RFID enables you to read multiple tags at once.
4 Advantages of RFID Asset Tracking
- Gather data from a distance of between 20-1500 feet (depending on tag type)
- Tags are made from durable material for long-lasting and weather-proofing
- RFID increases the speed of asset monitoring by reading multiple tags at one time
- Tags can be both read-only or read/write, making it possible to add or change asset data once the tag has been attached