The ultimate Asset Tracking System cheat sheet
An asset tracking system seem like a simple enough concept. You have an item, you want to know where it is. But anyone who has dived into Google looking for answers on how to track their assets soon finds out that it’s a complicated world. There are literally thousands of different answers and suggested technologies.
If tracking your fixed assets such as vehicles, equipment, tools or even people is important to you then this is the ultimate cheat sheet to guide you through the different tracking systems and get the one you need.
Why do you need an asset tracking system?
If you’re reading this article, I’d say you already have an answer to this, but people track fixed assets for different reasons. Asset tracking systems allow you to keep eyes on where your assets are to assist with dispatch, maintenance, reporting for your accounts department and of course, asset security.
There is no one size fits all solution for asset tracking. The shapes, sizes and technologies used are as diverse as the assets being tracked. Here’s a run down of the most commonly used.
GPS trackers are ideal for tracking large assets such as fleet vehicles, heavy machinery, rental cars and trailers – equipment which should have reasonable expectation of moving around larger areas. These asset tracking systems ideally come with tamper alerts, live tracking and geo-fencing – the ability to create virtual perimeters around the asset and be alerted if the asset crosses over the line. GPS tracking software can report on location, time on site, driver behaviour, kilometres travelled and record maintenance history.
GPS tracking software is good for tracking vehicles, heavy machinery
Bluetooth beacons are cheaper, lighter and smaller than their GPS cousins. They are idea for tracking real-time location of smaller assets such as water coolers, sanitary bins, coffee machines – any small, portable asset that may be shifted between a warehouse, client office or ‘the graveyard’. Bluetooth technology works on a ‘handshake’. It sends a constant message to a receiver, such as a mobile phone, that mean with one glance a logistics manager can see that they have 300 items with clients, 200 in the warehouse and 84 en route.
Bluetooth beacons are good for tracking: smaller, portable assets, especially those that are shifted between facilities and customers.
Barcode & QR code asset tracking
Barcodes offer another way to track the movement of smaller fixed assets or even inventory. Barcode tracking and QR tracking allows you to print your own labels (or buy ready made ones) and stick them on just about anything you need. Then, you just need to scan the label with your phone and it records where the device is. The biggest drawback, however, is that the items must be scanned at each checkpoint for the system to be effective.
Barcodes are good for tracking small assets and inventory.
RFID is like a barcode on steroids. The same principle applies that an item is tagged, this time with a small microchip, however manual intervention isn’t required for the item to be tracked. As the item moves past a reader, it automatically sends a signal. Simple RFID can be used for inventory tracking, such as shop security, but when combined with GPS, it can be a powerful tool to track movement of large amounts of goods – such as transporting cattle from farms to saleyards.
RFID is good for tracking cattle, large numbers of smaller assets.
Want to find out more about asset tracking and ways to automate your staff and operations? Download the Automate your Army Slide Deck. This easy to read guide includes tips and processes to create an efficient workforce without becoming a micro-manager.