What is Asset Tracking? Do you Need it?

What is Asset Tracking? Do you Need it?

If you’re ever misplaced a sock after doing your laundry, you know why an asset tracking system is useful.

After all, huge corporations in tons of industries can misplace equipment just as easily, but losing an excavator or a truckload of lawnmowers is a far bigger deal than ending up with mismatched socks.

What It Is

An asset tracking system uses a combination of hardware units and a centralized software dashboard to ensure that businesses can know where their tangible assets are at all times.

Asset tracking is available through a few different types of systems, and the biggest differentiator is between fixed and movable assets.

Fixed assets can include items like office chairs, laptops, printers and fax machines. For these, you’ll likely want a passive asset tracking system, like one that uses barcode labels. These systems require you to manually locate and scan each asset in order to catalog its current location — something that’s relatively easy to do when the items stay in a specific building.

Moveable and outdoor assets are better off with an active asset tracking system like GPS tracking, which includes a fist-sized hardware unit that sends a signal with its location directly to the central dashboard. No matter where the moveable assets might roam, managers can know where they are in real time.

A GPS-powered asset tracking system will also include more features and data capacity. It could track your maintenance needs, fuel use, and employee habits, and include geofencing abilities. It is really the only option for powered assets, which run on a power source like gas or electricity. If you want to know when each engine has been turned on or how long an asset has been used, only a GPS asset tracking system can help.

Do You Need It?

Any operation with a collection of fixed and/or moveable assets needs some kind of asset tracking solution, whether for office buildings or construction sites. Simply having a system in place will immediately save time, money and resources, since you’ll misplace fewer assets and you’ll deter any potential for theft or misuse.

How Much It’ll Cost You

The total cost for a company looking to get started with asset tracking can vary, depending on a handful of factors. Here’s a quick rundown on the questions to ask yourself:

  • How many assets? If you’re tracking more assets, you’ll pay a higher fee overall.
  • Fixed or moveable? As mentioned earlier, this affects which type of system is best.
  • Powered or non-powered? Non-powered asset tracking is cheaper, but offers fewer features.
  • What are your training needs? You’ll likely need to factor in the time spent training your employees on the new asset tracking software. Just one day should work fine for most systems.
  • Will you pay per asset or per user? Some asset tracking vendors charge a set fee for each asset tracked, while others charge per user per month.
  • What’s the contract length? Asset tracking services often bill annually, and the length of the overall contract can vary from one year to as much as a three-year commitment.

How much should you expect to pay overall? $15 to $35 per asset per month is the floor for active asset tracking. That should get you the basic features and ability. A more feature-rich system could cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per asset per month.

Why Is It Worth Getting?

The benefits of a good asset tracking system go beyond just the streamlined operations that result from knowing where your equipment is, although that’s certainly a big plus.

Theft deterrence is a top benefit. Employee theft and misappropriation affects the vast majority of businesses (95% of them, by one study), and having a robust asset tracking program in place can deter theft before it happens.

Asset maintenance can also be tracked with the right service, alerting managers automatically when it’s time for the next tune-up or when the engine is getting old.

Employee management can also be handled easily, with a dashboard that measures how long assets have travelled to each new job, or when they leave a pre-set geographic location. In addition to saving managers time, these features help employees, too, as they won’t feel micromanaged by a program that quietly runs behind the scenes.

In time, the historical data collected by an asset tracking program can lead managers to make better data-driven decisions. It takes the guesswork out of big moves. By looking back over a year’s worth of asset use, for example, managers will be able to know if they need to upgrade or add more assets in order to meet demand.

All in all, an asset tracking program can cost a huge business plenty, but it’ll pay for itself by keeping your assets secure while offering extra efficiency-boosting features you never knew you needed.