Keeping our valuables safeguarded is a natural tendency of humans. To keep our assets intact, we often store them in safes, chests, and vaults, hoping that nobody could reach them. But what happens when something of great value is in transit or is far away from you?
Can you rely on someone else’s words to remain complacent of its wellbeing, or is there a way to constantly sync with your assets irrespective of your whereabouts? This article answers the above questions and a few more about asset tracking.
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Simply put, ‘Asset Management’ refers to the process of tracking physical assets digitally to know about their status, location, etc., in real-time. Such technologies allow users to digitally check upon their valuable resources (including digital devices, servers, machinery, goods, automotive and immovable assets) through barcode labels, GPS, RFIDs, etc.
Asset tracking software and tools have become extremely important to any business wanting real-time oversight over their remote assets, which helps them improve decision-making and stay connected with their valuables across great distances. With rapid technological advancements, especially in the IoT industry and asset tracking software, tracking valuables remotely has become much easier, powerful, and less expensive.
Hassle-free connectivity with distributed assets via asset management software is hugely beneficial for organizations as it improves accountability, security, and control over assets. However, like all technologies, asset tracking also had humble beginnings.
History of Asset Tracking
Before the prevalence of asset tracking software, most organizations used pen and paper to keep track of their assets located in various warehouses or those in transit. Typically, there was a logbook where all details of assets going in or out were registered with the date and time.
The logbook was the only source of knowledge about goods released or received. In the event of misplacement of the logbook or its pages, organizations were left completely in the dark about the status of their assets. The system was also prone to manual errors while counting and entering information.
As computers came along, many organizations breathed a sigh of relief since their assets were tracked accurately via spreadsheets and databases. Organizations could now manage and integrate massive databases and completely do away with paperwork, reducing costs and improving efficiency.
Though quite helpful, spreadsheets could not do actual ‘tracking’ and relied on humans for data entry and updating. Moreover, primitive spreadsheets couldn’t do any complicated calculations until the early 1980s, leaving a considerable gap to be filled.
The next upheaval that the asset management industry experienced was in the form of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. The use of specialized asset tracking software brought in some form of automation to tracking and empowered several firms globally to track their resources. Even today, four out of five businesses use ERP systems for inventory management.
However, businesses have come to realize that ERPs are better suited to trace things in bulk and not individual assets located far and wide.
Asset management desperately needed an upgrade in technology in the late 1990s, which came about in the form of mobile computing. Pocket-sized devices could now be easily attached to assets, relaying data to asset tracking software, and offering critical insights into their present location, status, temperature, altitude, and speed.
Along with handheld devices and scanners, digital connectivity and high-resolution mobile cameras quickly improved the efficacy of asset management software, giving rise to newer norms and best practices to keep track of valuables.
Advancements in Asset Management Technologies
The present era of asset management has witnessed several advancements and welcomed many new technologies. Here are a few technologies that are widely used for asset performance management guide used all over the world:
Despite becoming almost obsolete, spreadsheets have remained a cost-effective and efficient way for employees to access and update asset information. The increased use of cloud-based spreadsheets allows multiple individuals to access, update and view data simultaneously in real-time. Spreadsheets are also incredibly cost-effective and allow a quick search of information, making them a popular tool for small enterprises.
Commercially used since the 1970s, barcodes are still quite popular due to their ease of use, accuracy, and affordability. Barcodes can be read and scanned using multiple technologies, even without using any specific asset management software. and even if technologies fail, they can be differentiated using the human eye.
Thus everything from consumer durables and FMCG products to electronic goods is marked with them for easy identification.
3. Radio Frequency Identification:
This technology relies on radio frequency tags or chips that instantly transmit scanned information. Thus, each scan relays data and updates the asset tracking software about the particular resource/item being scanned. RFID allows you to scan multiple objects remotely.
However, it does not come cheap and requires specialized scanning equipment of a limited frequency range for operating.
4. Near Field Communication (NFC):
Though similar to RFID, NFC does not require special scanning equipment to track assets. Instead, using just your smartphone, you can authenticate assets at close range, which is convenient and efficient for various industries.
5. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE):
Using Bluetooth technology, BLE helps detect assets in short-range and is ideal for applications needing periodic transfer of data. Data is automatically updated in the asset management software in real-time, allowing users all over the world to check the status of their valuables.
This makes them well-suited for actuators, sensors, and other small devices such as smartwatches, healthcare equipment, security, and home entertainment electronics.
6. Global Positioning Systems (GPS):
GPS technology is used in several asset management software that needs to track resources across great distances. GPS systems use satellite imagery to triangulate the position of any asset and can relay information about your remote assets with great accuracy. However, GPS technology cannot work in environments where a clear signal is unavailable to multiple satellites simultaneously.
Asset management software is evolving pretty fast. With IoT-enabled devices becoming more popular, richer, and more accurate insights on assets would be available to users within a few more years.
Today, asset tracking enables firms to optimize/customize their assets, reduce human involvement, and track costs. In addition, with more advancements in the future, asset tracking software could have many other industries monitor, maintain and automate the movement of assets.