Managing any fleet business, especially one that has many assets, can often prove to be an operational headache. The process of manually updating documents whenever an asset is acquired and deleting information when it is no longer needed can be a tiresome task that could leave plenty of mistakes behind.
With GPS technology advancing faster than many people imagined, businesses are only now beginning to realise the true value of this technology, allowing them to streamline the asset tracking processes by eliminating time consumption, human error, and outdated information with automated asset tracking.
What is asset tracking?
Asset tracking, in its simplest definition, is the method used to track a company’s physical assets such as equipment, technology, or machinery, as well as any information related to the assets, such as location, status, and arrival of assets, either by scanning barcode labels attached to the assets or by using tags using GPS or RFID, which broadcast their location.
Why the need for asset tracking?
Constantly keeping track of hundreds or even thousands of assets could prove to be too much for the average manager. Asset tracking software enables any manager to be up to date with the comings and goings of assets at a constant rate.
How does it work?
The goal of any asset tracking system is to maximise asset control efficiency and minimise equipment loss.
While GPS tracking is the most popular method, there is more than one way of tracking assets. You can also equip items with asset tags like QR codes, NFC, barcodes, beacons, RFID tags and many more.
Depending on what kind of asset you want to be tracked, you can use the following tracking methods:
- Barcode: These are usually printed on large physical assets. The barcode has to be scanned to access information and the data can be retrieved from any asset tracking tool that keeps an up-to-date log of all assets. Since this is electronic, all employees can have access to the data right from their mobile devices.
- Radio Frequency Identification: RFID is a form of wireless communication that broadcasts your assets’ location at any time. These require handheld scanners to read the devices.
- GPS-based Asset Tracking: GPS tracking devices can interact via cellular networks or satellites and communicate over long distances while keeping accurate, up-to-date logs for employees.
Benefits of asset tracking
The benefits of employing an asset tracking system are plentiful. Employees can manage equipment, confirm inspections, and report on all relevant maintenance activities from the moment an asset arrives on site until it’s no longer deemed usable.
We highlight some of the most beneficial advantages of employing asset tracking here:
- Improve efficiency and trim costs
- Adjust company records as equipment is reassigned between departments, and use the updated information when calculating taxes and costs for each department
- Quickly and easily locate assets at any time, and in real time
- Conduct asset tracking using fewer resources, with the aid of an asset tracking system
- Lower administrative costs, since administrators do not need to track or locate assets manually
- Track and reduce asset loss and utilise assets more effectively
- Grow your company and scale your asset tracking as necessary
- Improve customer service through improved asset tracking and management practices
- Ensure accountability and accuracy with asset loss and management
- Immediately know where your assets have been allocated
- Proper asset tracking is required for regulatory compliance in certain industries
- Increase the efficiency and organisation of your company’s physical space by identifying which items are accessed together and creating a better structure of your physical system
- Get real-time reports on the position of each asset and increase the accuracy of your asset management
What is IoT-based asset tracking?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the growing network of consumer and business equipment connected to the internet through onboard wireless antennas. IoT-based asset tracking systems add automation and intelligence to the system, utilising IoT sensors attached to assets. These sensors can be used for different use cases, providing real-time insights into assets’ usage, location, environment, and condition.
As part of this evolution, Netstar is excited to announce the upcoming release of a revolutionary battery-operated device. Picture an asset tracker powered by NB-IoT – a device equipped with GPS, a battery, and an onboard processor. This battery-operated tracker wakes up every five minutes to capture a GPS position, conserving power. Every 20 minutes, it connects to the mobile network, transmitting the current location along with the three previous locations. Remarkably, this cycle can continue for about four years on a single device – a feat previously unheard of in the telematics industry.
Enhanced decision-making: A telematics revolution
Digital location data not only allows for efficient business operations but also revolutionises decision-making. Consider a scenario where a logistics manager can visualise and optimise the deployment of 5000 assets based on precise location data. The ability to cluster assets by region and strategically plan their movement transforms the traditional approach to asset management, leading to more informed and strategic decision-making.
Asset recovery and security: A dual advantage
In addition to optimised operations and enhanced decision-making, NB-IoT-powered asset tracking brings a dual advantage in terms of recovery and security. With a location tracker embedded in assets, businesses can swiftly locate missing items. The integration of recovery services further strengthens this aspect, providing an additional layer of security for valuable assets.
Asset tracking in practice
The applications for asset tracking are endless. Leading industries, such as smart factories, smart warehouses, yard management, supply chains, and healthcare, are putting asset tracking technologies to work. Asset tracking systems improve efficiency, reduce downtime, and enhance visibility in these industries. Smart factories, for example, use asset tracking to manage equipment, tools, raw materials, and goods through the manufacturing process, ensuring timely access to the right vehicle in yard management.
Asset tracking in smart factories
Smart factories, with their multitude of moving components, face the constant challenge of preventing losses due to misplaced or stolen items, which can lead to significant unplanned downtime. Asset tracking in smart factories involves the meticulous management of key equipment, valuable tools, raw materials, and even stationary items like cranes and robots. The timeliness required in manufacturing processes makes autonomous and real-time asset tracking systems essential, replacing traditional point-and-scan methods.
Asset tracking in smart warehouses
In the dynamic environment of warehouses, asset tracking is fundamental to managing inventory efficiently, organising storage spaces, and ensuring timely access to needed items. Smart warehouses leverage various asset tracking systems, including barcodes, RFID, augmented reality tools, and RTLS, to enhance operations such as picking and packing, receivables organisation, and adherence to FIFO/LIFO policies. The primary goal is to reduce the time spent searching for specific items and improve overall visibility.
Asset tracking in yard management
Effective yard management, whether in warehouses, factories, or distribution centres, relies on timely access to the right vehicles. Challenges arise, however, in finding and accessing the correct vehicle, exacerbated by the limitations of GPS accuracy and the need for optimal space utilisation during parking. Lost or inaccessible vehicles lead to delays in job completion, congestion in traffic lanes, and unnecessary complications for yard managers and drivers.
Asset tracking in supply chains
The critical role of asset visibility in supply chains has become increasingly evident, especially in addressing supply chain breakdowns that can result in empty shelves or overstocked items. Asset tracking systems play a crucial role in managing handoff junctures, real-time location tracking of vehicles, and ensuring visibility and protection at key points in the supply chain. This becomes essential in the context of just-in-time delivery, expirable vaccines, and global disruptions.
Asset tracking in healthcare
The healthcare sector is witnessing a rise in the use of Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) for asset tracking, aiming to enhance productivity and patient safety. Hospitals are developing asset management plans to optimise the workflow of healthcare equipment, staff, and patients. The implementation of tracking tags for physicians and nurses allows for instant location tracking, improving overall efficiency and ensuring precise record-keeping to meet the demands of modern healthcare.
In conclusion, asset tracking powered by NB-IoT is transforming the way businesses manage their physical assets. From streamlining operations to reducing costs and improving efficiency, the benefits of asset tracking are significant. Embracing IoT-based asset tracking opens new possibilities for real-time insights, automation, and proactive management. As industries continue to evolve, the role of asset tracking in optimising processes and ensuring accountability becomes increasingly crucial.
Invest in the future of your business by adopting advanced asset tracking solutions that leverage the power of NB-IoT and IoT technologies.