What is Asset Tracking?
Asset Tracking is the system used to track physical assets through technology such as GPS, RFID, bar codes, and many others. These tools “tag” assets so the owners of these assets can label and monitor them in real-time.
This system has been proven helpful to companies with extensive inventories. However, it relies mainly on warehousing and logistics to keep its business moving. In addition, asset tracking has seen many use in the medical field, retail and delivery service.
Why You Should Start Tracking Your Assets
Before we get to the nitty-gritty on how to fully implement asset and equipment tracking into your company, let us go over why people decide to track their physical assets in the first place. Your company’s main reason for asset tracking will determine the type of asset tracking technology you use and the policies you develop around the system.
Better Inventory Management
Although some companies have separate systems for inventory management and asset management, asset tracking can help automate your inventory management process. For example, many companies use inventory management software, but they use asset tracking tools like bar codes and RFID. With asset tracking technology, companies don’t need to spend a lot of time manually writing down inventory changes – they can scan the RFID or barcode to update the system automatically.
Reduces the Risk of Theft
If you keep tabs on your company’s assets regularly, it’s easy to discover if and when they are missing. Sometimes, employees misplace assets, and without proper monitoring, these assets might get flagged for theft, or the company might declare them as losses even if they can be recovered. If assets are missing because of theft, the ability to track them in real-time makes it easier for the company and law enforcement to recover the stolen asset.
Data Gathering and Reporting
Data accuracy is critical to a company that manages a lot of assets. With equipment tracking, assets can be assigned labels, assigned to specific employees, and contain other important information related to the company process. The data gathered can create reports that give business owners a clear idea of what is happening to their company. In addition, because your data is collected in real-time, important information can reach management immediately, and they can make critical business decisions on the fly.
How To Prepare Your Business For Asset Tracking
Before you track your assets, make the necessary preparations so integration can be as smooth as possible. You can’t just decide to bring in equipment tracking technology one day, install it, and see how it goes. To ensure that your company is ready for this transition, here are a few things you need to do beforehand:
Determine what assets need tracking
Businesses have a lot of assets, but not all of them need tracking. Next, you need to pick which assets to use the technology on. This usually depends on your company’s industry and the value of the assets to your company. For example, as a fleet manager, it’s apparent that you will want all your company vehicles tracked because the value of these vehicles can create problems for your company if these vehicles were lost or stolen. On the other hand, your company may not track vehicle repair equipment if these assets are stationary and are considered expendable.
Determine who will track them
As the fleet manager, you will be the obvious first choice to oversee this technology. However, if your company is large enough, you may want to create a separate team for asset tracking, as you can’t be expected to monitor everything 24/7. Your company can also hire tech-savvy individuals who will analyze the data and turn it into reports that the business can easily use for growth and development.
Create a Database of assets
Once you determine which assets need tracking, you need to create a database of these assets connected to the system once tracking has been implemented. A database will make it easier for whoever is collecting the data to update and maintain it.
Implementing Your Business Asset Tracking System
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase your equipment tracking tools. Here are some of the steps you need to take in the first few days of implementation:
Release new equipment tracking policies
To fully implement something into your business, you need to create rules related to this new system and technology. For fleet managers, this means creating guidelines that data can now monitor effectively, such as:
- Idle times – asset tracking will allow managers to see how long drivers stop and idle at stop points in their route and how long the car stays idle due to traffic. As a result, companies can designate sufficient sluggish times, which can increase driver productivity.
- Vehicle activity – Some cars see more use than others, and vehicles that get used more often wear down faster. Companies can set policies limiting vehicle activity per month, which means that cars that pass the limit won’t be able to take on more load, allowing other vehicles to see more use.
- Designated routes – Drivers usually take routes that are more familiar to them, but these routes are not necessarily the most efficient. With asset tracking technology, companies can look for the best routes for reduced fuel costs. Having designated routes will also alert the company to errant driver behavior whenever they veer off these routes to attend to personal errands.
Where to Mount Your Asset Trackers
Your next concern is where to mount your asset trackers on your vehicles. GPS asset tracking devices are different compared to GPS vehicle trackers, despite using the same technology. GPS vehicle tracking devices are mounted onto the car’s OBD Port, while GPS asset tracking can be mounted independently anywhere. Although the latter can be used for vehicles, it has more application than GPS vehicle trackers.
If you’re using GPS asset trackers for your vehicles, you have more choices available to you. You can place asset trackers both inside and outside your vehicle. For the interior, you can set the tracker in the following places:
- Inside the glove compartment
- Under the car seats
- On the dashboard
- Behind the dashboard (in the wiring)
- Under the hood
- In the trunk
Fleetr’s asset trackers are waterproof and durable, so you can choose to mount your tracker on the car’s exterior. Asset trackers that can withstand the elements and changes in temperature can be mounted on the following locations:
- The car’s undercarriage
- Front bumper
- Rear bumper
When choosing a place to attach your asset trackers to, consider the following points:
- If your vehicle gets stolen, the thieves may look for a possible GPS device and throw it out. Therefore, make sure your asset tracker is well-hidden so thieves cannot remove it from your car. This is also the best way to protect your asset tracker from getting tampered with by your own drivers.
- Make sure that the tracker won’t impede the driver’s ability to drive correctly.
- Check the specifications of your asset tracker. For example, if your tracker cannot withstand high temperatures, don’t mount it under the hood or on your sunroof.
Label All Asset Trackers
For the sake of proper data management, label all your asset trackers once you mount them into your vehicles. After turning on your asset trackers, you can manage each tracker through the mobile app or on your computer. Label each tracker with the model and make of the vehicle, the driver’s name, and any other important information to your company. This will make all data collection tasks more manageable and can help keep your data accurate at all times.
Secure Your Data Network
GPS requires a network connection to send information to the app, so no matter how advanced your fleet management system is, you cannot take advantage of its benefits if you don’t have an Internet connection. If you plan on using asset tracking, choose a network connection that’s stable with minimal downtime. It also helps if you have a backup connection in case your primary one fails.
Fleetr’s asset tracking system comes with its own data network. It makes use of 3G/4G cellular networks to power their GPS tracking features, so you don’t have to worry about securing your own network options.
Track Assets With GPS Technology
Asset tracking tools come in many forms. The asset tracking tool you use for your company will depend on your needs and the type of asset that needs tracking.
Bar codes are the first asset tracking tool used to manage inventory and data management. Bar codes are still used today in food products. The problem with bar codes is that it is easy to tamper and vandalize. In addition, the bar code must be aligned perfectly straight; otherwise, the scanner couldn’t read the code, and if any of the lines fade or get erased, the code becomes invalid. Thus, bar codes can help companies with product identification, but they can’t track products.
Radio Frequency Identification uses RFID tags to label different assets. We see its application frequently in the retail business. For example, unsold clothes would have a tag that the cashier will only remove once the customer purchases the item. Retail stores usually have an RFID scanner at the store entrance, and the scanner gives off a warning signal if it detects a tag passing through it. This has helped a lot in decreasing the instances of shoplifting in stores. Aside from this security feature, you cannot track an asset successfully in real-time with RFID.
GPS asset tracking makes use of GPS signals from satellites. These trackers can store asset data similar to other asset tracking tools. Still, their main advantage is that they can also track these assets in real-time. As a result, GPS is better for assets that hold a lot of value and mobility.
GPS asset tracking is the best option for fleet managers because vehicles come and go all the time. With this tracking tool, managers can now oversee the entire fleet from their phone or PC.
Tips For Installing Asset Tracking Software
Follow the steps below when installing your asset tracking device to ensure clear reception of signal and longevity of the device.
- Make sure you have fully charged your device before mounting it on your vehicle.
- Depending on your chosen asset tracker, decide where you will install the device. For example, if your device is durable, you can install it on your car’s exterior.
- If you want to avoid mounting your device on your car, you can store it inside the glove compartment or stash it under the seat for your convenience.
- If you want to mount the device to keep it hidden, you may use duct tape, double-sided tape, or screws to secure it.
- If you plan on installing the device under the hood or behind the dashboard, make sure no wires or cables come in contact with it. In addition, signals from the antenna may weaken due to nearby metals.
- If you want the best signal strength, install your device in areas with access to open sky.
Once you install your device, check with the app to ensure that it is working correctly. Keep in mind that the average lifespan of your asset tracker battery is around 3-6 months, so remember to charge it regularly.
What To Do With The Data Gathered From Asset Tracking
Asset trackings’ data collection ability can contribute a lot to the success of a business; however, a lot of companies only use it sparingly. For example, most fleet managers implement asset tracking to protect their vehicles and keep a close eye on their drivers while on the road. Hence, many companies save all the data gathered by these GPS trackers and store them in a folder to be forgotten.
Improve Vehicle Procurement
Asset tracking via GPS can give you the lowdown on how many hours a vehicle has been driven. In addition, if you are the owner of a fleet of several types of vehicles, asset tracking can give you clues on which cars suit your business better.
With asset tracking, you can determine which cars are the most in-demand, which ones break down the most often, require the most maintenance, and other important information in the vehicle procurement process.
Create A Driver Safety Program
With asset tracking, you can implement better safety protocols for your drivers. For example, Fleetr has a Driver Safety Scorecard, which flags drivers each time they do risky driving behaviors such as hard braking, speeding, rapid acceleration, etc. The app determines which drivers are safe and which ones exhibit dangerous driving behaviors.
Your company can set up a program that gives feedback and further training for drivers with low scores. You can also provide incentives for drivers who have a high score. This will encourage better driving behavior for all of your drivers.
Find Opportunities To Cut On Costs
Data gathered from asset tracking can give your company an idea of where your weaknesses and inefficiencies lie. For example, do you suffer from high fuel costs because your drivers idle a lot? Do you spend a lot of money on insurance because your drivers get into accidents quickly? With this data, you can pinpoint problems within your company to make educated business decisions that will strengthen your organization.
Special Asset Tracking Considerations For Small Business Owners
Contrary to popular belief, asset tracking is not just for big fleets. Small businesses can also experience the benefits of this system. The only difference is that small businesses have limited resources. Therefore, all decisions related to asset tracking must be wise to avoid losing when integrating this new technology into their business.
Here are some tips for small businesses when choosing asset tracking:
- With small businesses, it may be impossible to track all critical assets in your company. Carefully choose which assets are the most important to the survival of your business and implement tracking on those first.
- Choose an asset tracking solution that can grow with your business. Don’t go for asset tracking solutions that offer you a package with loads of features you don’t even need yet because you are just starting out. For example, with Fleetr’s asset tracking solution, you pay for each device you purchase, plus pay a set amount for your monthly subscription. For small businesses on a budget, you can choose the option with hourly updates to start and then upgrade to minute updates when you are more financially stable.
While this may seem like a lot, integrating asset tracking into your business is not that difficult, considering the many positive changes it can bring to your business. Regardless of whether you are a small business or a large fleet, you should make the most out of the data and tracking features that asset tracking has to offer.