Welcome back to our Fixed Asset Inventory Management and Tracking Basics Series.
Part 2: Asset Tracking – Automation and Technology
Fixed asset tracking automation and technology can be a fairly broad topic. For the purposes of this post, we will address some of the basic and minimum considerations for technology that can help automate the tracking and managing of fixed assets throughout their lifecycle.
Asset Tracking Software – At the heart of any asset management program is the asset tracking software system. Many large organizations have an asset tracking software module in place, whether it be part of their ERP system, a commercially available standalone product, or something homegrown. However, we find that many smaller to mid-size companies do not. This is of course highly dependent on the nature of business and how much of a pain point this has been for them. Many are simply using spreadsheets, if they are tracking/managing their equipment at all. This can be problematic is it is not centralized, and managing routine changes can be very difficult.
Many of the applications are now hosted in the cloud, so there is no longer a need to install a dedicated server or create an internal environment suitable to host your system. Ditching the spreadsheets and uploading to a centralized system allows for multiple users to easily access and update asset information in real time, create and receive automated alerts, and generate custom reports (among other things). Contact us if want to learn about how asset tracking software can help you.
Make sure you implement a scalable system that can be configured to suit your needs (track information that is relevant to your organization). If you need help finding an asset tracking software system that is suitable for you, contact us for more information and a free product demonstration. Many systems offer a free, no obligation trial.
Mobility – A very important tool in your asset tracking toolbox is a mobile device with an application that enables you to manage your assets from anywhere. These applications can run on a mobile computer, tablet, or even a smart phone.
Many asset tracking systems include mobility or offer as an add-on component. There are also standalone applications that are inexpensive and offer a lot of flexibility (no prerequisites for your backend system). iOS, Android, and Windows currently have a good share of the market. Here are some considerations before purchasing;
- Do you already have mobile devices you want to use? If so, make sure the system you commit to has an application that supports the OS installed on your mobile device.
- What functionality is important to you? Some basic functions to look for include;
- Wi-Fi/Cellular/Bluetooth Capability
- Directly connect to the backend system
- Suitable for conducting physical inventory/cycle audits
- Should have the ability to define custom data fields, import/export data, edit asset records, create new asset records, scan barcodes, and take digital images and videos
- Check In Check Out Assets and Equipment
Asset Tags – Our overview on automation wouldn’t be complete without addressing barcode and RFID tags. Asset tags can be printed onsite with a barcode printer and some blank label stock or pre-printed. We advocate the use of pre-printed labels for assets that are subjected to extreme conditions. They are available in a variety of materials, including plastics, foil, and metal. Most use sub-surface printing which is a feature you cannot get with desktop label printers. However, for many applications, including general office equipment, print on demand is easy to use, inexpensive, and works well.
On the RFID side, the sky’s the limit. RFID chips are encapsulated in every material you can think of to help protect the internal chip and antenna as well as enhance its performance, including; plastic, ceramics, rubber, foam, silicone, and standard peel and stick.
Our physical inventory service teams often use pre-printed barcode labels and pre-printed/programmed RFID tags.
Regardless of where you source your asset tags, or the technology you choose to deploy, asset tagging greatly simplifies the tracking and managing of assets.
In Part 3 of this series, we will talk about Fixed Asset Management Processes and Procedures.