What is asset tracking?

Asset tracking is the process of documenting all information about a piece of equipment or other assets for easy access should the need arise. Without asset tracking, there’s a significant risk of assets breaking down, not working, or being misplaced without any recourse.

What information should you track?

When it comes to your assets there are different pieces of important information that you should track, including:

  • Asset name: This is the asset’s technical name or any terms it’s known by within your organization.
  • Physical location: Where the asset is located within a facility and asset hierarchy (for fixed asset tracking) or the current and expected movements (for movable or mobile assets).
  • Asset purpose: What the asset is used for in the context of your organization, and how it fits into any relevant work processes.
  • Assigned individuals: Who has specific access to the asset (if applicable), or which group(s) of people have general access? Who is accountable for ownership, maintenance, and other asset lifecycle management tasks?
  • KPIs and metrics: What the asset is supposed to deliver (and how much), as well as how maintenance performance is measured and tracked.
  • Maintenance schedules and resources: Tracking each maintenance activity (what was done to an asset, when, and by who) and planning future maintenance tasks.
  • Failure and downtime: When the asset is not performing and the reason(s) why.
  • Asset lifecycle information The expected useful life of the asset, replacement or upgrade expectations, and other asset lifecycle management information.
  • Remaining useful life (RUL): Refers to the estimated amount of time an asset has before it needs to be replaced.

Examples of asset tracking systems

Depending on your needs, there are different asset tracking systems that can be used to track your assets. Below are the most common examples.

  • Manufacturing execution system (MES): A system that tracks and monitors all machines on a manufacturing shop floor.
  • Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS): A centralized database for all maintenance operations within a manufacturing organization.
  • Inventory and warehouse management system: This system tracks how much supply is available and where it is (which warehouse, if there are many, and location inside a warehouse).
  • Enterprise asset management (EAM) system: A system that helps organizations manage the entire life cycle of their assets.
  • RFID asset tracking system: This system helps locate small physical assets, such as a package, via a tag on the item. The tag sends radio signals to a centralized receiver (or software platform) that tells someone where the item is located and any other relevant information such as the item’s name or use case.
  • GPS asset tracking system: Like an RFID system, GPS-based systems help locate large, movable assets, such as a trailer or shipping container, using trackers on the asset itself.

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Benefits of asset tracking

Asset tracking offers several benefits, especially in organizational and operational efficiency:

  1. Save time: When an asset is tracked, you always know where it is, what it can do, and other lifecycle information. This saves a lot of time when an issue arises, or a question gets asked that requires this type of information to address.
  2. Use resources efficiently: Tracking assets gives you visibility into their remaining useful life and connectivity to the whole operation. This helps make strategic decisions about how to use assets for maximum efficiency.
  3. Cut costs: Tracking assets reduces the risk they will go missing or break down, saving money on maintenance or replacement.
  4. Ensure compliance for auditing: Asset tracking provides a reliable audit trail (opens in new tab), making it easier to demonstrate compliance with regulations and standards. It also simplifies asset valuation for financial reporting purposes.

Asset tracking is non-negotiable

Asset tracking is a critical practice. Without it, a manufacturing shop can fall apart. As the manufacturing world gets ever-more complex with different parts and supply chains, asset tracking is non-negotiable. While manual methods can help in the short term, the only viable long-term solution is asset tracking software.

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