Asset tracking is the process of recording important information concerning detailed data about particular assets and their current location. Asset tracking is nothing new, for years small “Mom and Pop” businesses have manually tracked their inventory with paper spreadsheets. However, technology and business needs have evolved and therefore, more efficient asset tracking solutions are required. Asset tracking solutions provide many advantages like accuracy, efficiency, and accountability which all promote better customer service.
A wide variety of industries including but not limited to: healthcare, retail, and delivery services can benefit from using asset tracking solutions. Tracking systems can help the healthcare industry follow both maintenance and sterilization schedules for patient equipment and enforce regulatory compliance by disposing of expired medication. The retail industry could benefit by having accurate inventory data available, preventing over-ordering, and minimizing warehouse costs. The delivery service industry could benefit from having up-to-date information on customers’ orders and more accurate delivery times and dates.
There are several different methods and devices that can be used to perform asset tracking depending upon the business’ level of need and monetary budget. The oldest and probably the most recognized is the barcode method. This method offers two main advantages; it is very affordable, and the barcode labels can be made in various sizes to accommodate both small and large assets. Essentially, a scanner is used to read the barcode label and then record the information into the cloud database. The scanner could simply be a smartphone with a scanning app which is another cost savings. Unfortunately, the barcode method does have a major downside, and that is the barcode needs to be within sight of the scanner. Obviously, this cannot happen if the assets are stored in remote locations. Technology has a solution to solve this issue, and that would be to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
RFID is a monitoring software for remote employees technology that involves the use of an RFID tag, a reader, and an antenna. All of these components work together to store and access information from the tag using radio waves. There are several advantages to using this method. The first advantage is that it can be used for assets that are remotely stored or are not readily accessible like equipment “used in a coal mining shaft”. Another advantage is that RFID equipment can simultaneously read multiple tags. Regrettably, they are quite expensive, and coincidentally, would not be suitable for small businesses with limited budgets.
The final option for tracking assets would be using Global Positioning System (GPS). This method is ideal for managing, locating, and tracking shipped items. The Global Positioning System works by using a network of 30 satellites that orbit around the earth. These satellites emit signals at the speed of light, and these signals can be intercepted by a GPS receiver such as a smartphone. The receiver calculates the distance from the satellites, and it can then figure out where something is. Consequently, this system requires a sizable investment in cost. Another negative is that in order to maximize the functionality of the tracking system, managers and employees and other users would need to be trained on how to use it. This would be an additional cost, but it might be offset by the fact that it would promote more effectiveness and efficiency.
Overall, the use of an asset tracking system for any industry or business will improve accountability, safeguard assets, prevent theft, and improve customer service. Research should be done to find the best option that provides the most functionality and is budget-friendly.