Asset tracking is the process of monitoring and controlling a company’s resources. Discover its benefits, applications, and the 5 key technologies.
Asset tracking is the discipline of monitoring and managing valuable resources within a business, allowing companies to cut costs and improve their management and organizational efficiency by constantly keeping track of their resources.
The monitoring of a company’s resources not only involves simple location but encompasses a process of dynamic and continuously updated management and maintenance, made possible through a facility management software.
This process enables the preservation of value, security, and productivity of all assets. Let’s delve into how this is achievable in detail!
What is Asset Tracking?
Asset tracking is a methodology that allows real-time monitoring of asset location and status within an organization, providing constant crucial information about their status, such as:
- Type of activity;
- Wear and tear;
- Any faults and subsequent maintenance requests;
- Inventory quantity;
- Operating costs.
The implementation of asset tracking procedures enables all businesses to simplify the use and management of their assets, which, depending on the sector, could be diverse resources managed within the context of facility management, including:
- Industrial production machinery and equipment;
- Company vehicles;
- Collective protection devices;
- Security systems;
- Intrusion, electrical, lighting, water, HVAC systems;
- Building systems;
- Digital devices, computers, servers;
Benefits of Resource Monitoring
Developing an asset monitoring process within your company offers numerous advantages that bring significant managerial improvements.
A good resource tracking system primarily improves planning and general utilization: real-time monitoring of position, conditions, and usage enables informed decision-making and optimized organizational procedures.
This also entails a cost reduction, both administrative and managerial.
When each asset’s status is constantly monitored, proactive maintenance procedures can be developed, allowing intervention only when necessary, thereby increasing its lifespan and saving on unnecessary activities.
All data is automatically collected in a centralized system, maintaining updated records in all situations and ensuring maximum productivity.
Updated inventories, along with automatic alerts on resource locations, ensure the absence of unauthorized movements or theft.
Applications of Resource Monitoring
Resource monitoring is highly beneficial in numerous sectors and has various applications:
- Manufacturing sector: to optimize the entire production line, ensuring efficient operations, tracing resources becomes a key activity. Inventory management, scheduling of preventive maintenance, resolving sudden problems and breakdowns (signaled through real-time messages), development of chronological analyses of conditions, and updated reports are some activities made possible by constant monitoring in this sector;
- Healthcare sector: ensuring patients’ health and meeting their healthcare needs pushes healthcare facilities to manage and monitor all their physical resources. Asset tracking allows healthcare providers to view the real-time location of equipment like beds, chairs, IV stands, etc., and provides useful information on their usage and maintenance to understand if resources are being excessively used or not. Modern technologies also enable monitoring at-risk patients’ conditions, ensuring efficient care and contributing to improving healthcare processes in hospitals;
- Fire safety sector: tracking the state of fire hoses, hydrant columns, mobile groups, or smoke detectors within facilities means checking their status at any moment and sending notifications in case of damage, maintenance interventions, or even fires, thereby saving numerous lives;
- Logistics sector: remote tracking of resources provides real-time data on any type of shipment, avoiding losses and diversions. This process is highly useful for transporting food products, especially refrigerated ones: using temperature sensors integrated with location sensors generates alerts when temperatures exceed set limits, preventing the arrival of thawed and spoiled goods.
Resource Tracking Methodologies and Technologies
To track assets, it’s important to develop real-time resource monitoring, sharing data and developing intelligent analyses. This is currently made possible by implementing IoT: connecting devices, machines, and objects via the Internet.
IoT resource monitoring is achieved using a series of tracking devices, a connectivity system, and a BIM IoT integration platform capable of managing all processes and developing useful analyses based on acquired data.
Efficient functioning requires the use of appropriate sensors for resource tracking. Among the most common technologies are:
- Barcodes/QR codes;
Below is a brief focus on their distinctive features.
1. Barcodes/QR Codes
Barcodes are versatile, inexpensive, fast, and easy-to-use tools. Facility management software allows easy scanning of labels and management of inventory and resource tracking directly from smartphones, accessible to all employees.
The evolution of barcodes is the QR Code, capable of transferring much more information.
RFID, short for “Radio Frequency Identification,” is an automatic identification technology based on propagation of electromagnetic waves used to identify and track asset tags via a reader device.
Typically, this system consists of:
- Tags: radiofrequency devices with a chip, memory, and antenna transmitting data. Tags are categorized as active (with their own long-lasting battery power), passive (receiving power from the reader signal), or semi-passive (having a battery for the microchip, not the transmitter);
- Readers: acquire information from tags, either fixed (handling large data quantities) or in mobile form;
- Antenna: sends and receives tag data. Readers emit radio waves collected by the RFID tag’s antenna, powering the chip and providing information;
- Management system: software managing available asset information starting from the tags.
WiFi systems are easy and inexpensive to implement, working similarly to RFID but through local networks using radio waves for information transmission.
Among the latest technologies, BLE “Bluetooth Low Energy” accurately locates resources compared to RFID or WiFi. BLE devices consume little energy and go into standby mode when not in use, reducing operational and maintenance costs. With this system, asset tracking devices communicate and locate items on maps using simple text searches.
Mainly used for externally positioned resources, GPS devices transmit through satellite networks. Signals are used to calculate the latitude and longitude of an asset accurately.
They offer real-time location data, are passive, and provide movement alerts if a resource unexpectedly changes position.
These systems are precise, communicate remotely, and maintain updated information but consume more energy, resulting in shorter battery life compared to other technologies.
Tools for Implementing Resource Monitoring
To develop a resource monitoring process for your company, various technologies lead to excellent results. The suitable choice depends on the chosen objectives and specific requirements.
However, to best plan the entire management process, regardless of the monitoring methods you decide to implement, you definitely need software support. Utilizing monitoring systems like Qr Code, GPS, or BLE is somewhat pointless without adopting facility management software that moves the strings and allows planning control and maintenance interventions based on asset actual conditions.
This tool can automatically interconnect with your assets, geolocate them, and store all data and information in the cloud, organized based on assigned labels and viewable directly in the as-built BIM model.
- Having instant access from any device to the required information, directly by clicking on the object in the virtual space;
- Receiving notifications and alerts when maintenance is scheduled or if there’s any extraordinary activity to be done;
- Ensuring the safety of equipment and operators responsible for checks.