From brick-and-mortar stores to large e-commerce retailers to fleet owners, asset tracking solutions can help improve the business process and cut down costs significantly.
How Equipment Tracking Can Help Businesses Cut Cost?
In addition, new tracking technologies are so diverse and easily available to all types of businesses regardless of the industry that it would be a shame to not use them to grow and improve.
For instance, fleet owners can use Samsara’s equipment tracking software to reduce the risk of theft and to put together an efficient usage plan for their assets.
This way, the system takes over routine tasks and keeps the manager in the loop with regard to maintenance schedules, damages, usage reports, and more.
Therefore, in today’s article, we will have a brief look at some of the most common equipment tracking solutions out there, their providers, and how they can be used to increase productivity and cut costs.
Types of Equipment Tracking Technologies
Due to the diversity of equipment and devices that need tracking, the technology designed for this task is equally varied. Therefore, each business needs to consider its needs and goals before deciding on which tracking system to use.
In addition, each of these technologies comes with a few additional costs regarding implementation and maintenance, which is why it’s crucial that you select the right one for your business.
Now, the multitude of systems out there can be confusing (especially for non-tech-savvy people), so to ease things up, we listed the pros and cons of the most common equipment tracking technologies available on the market.
While not very sophisticated, barcodes have been around since the 70s and they revolutionized inventory control. Not to mention, they are easy to use and don’t require special scanners (you can even read them with your smartphone).
However, barcodes have limitations and are only useful on small items and don’t store any data.
In addition, due to how they are built (line-by-line) barcodes need to be scanned horizontally, in a straight line with the code. Also, products with barcodes need to be scanned individually and from a short distance (around one meter), which eliminates bulk scanning.
The QR code is a better version of the barcode (become popular somewhere around the 90s) that comes with all the benefits of its predecessor and fewer limitations.
For instance, a QR code is two-dimensional and can be read from any angle. Also, even if part of it is damaged, a QR code is still readable (unlike the barcode, which is useless if even the tiniest part is damaged).
Moreover, QR codes are smaller than barcodes and can encode a lot more information. And just like barcodes, you don’t need fancy equipment to read them. However, the reading range is still about 1 meter and all items need to be scanned individually.
RFID Tags (passive)
The RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology is a bit more advanced than the previous two because it uses radio waves that scan the tags and fetch the data. The tags are passive (don’t need a battery) and can store a wide range of data from date/place of manufacture to the time of shipment.
However, while the tags are low-cost and easy to place on equipment, the scanners are quite expensive and can be a hefty investment.
NFC (Near Field Communication)
Given that most modern smartphones are already equipped with NFC technology, it’s clear that the scanning equipment is not such a big deal.
In addition, the tags are low-cost, can store large volumes of data, and are easy to place, but you literally need to be inches away to scan.
Therefore, the technology works great with low-volume items and equipment.
With GPS asset tracking technology we enter the world of advanced systems that require a bigger initial investment and access to more complex infrastructure. GPS tracking devices are extremely effective for fleet management or large equipment but they require a solid energy source. In addition, GPS trackers are not as accurate in crowded urban areas or indoors.
BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)
BLE beacons use extremely little energy to continuously broadcast their position, which is why they are great for indoor use (especially in a warehouse) for a range of about 70m (line of sight is needed). The tags and readers are affordable, but you won’t be able to transmit much data with this system alone.
IoT (Internet of Things )
Born from a desire to connect all physical objects via wireless networks, IoT devices are now extremely useful across industries.
For instance, the right IoT infrastructure can be enhanced with sensors, BLE beacons, and connected via advanced software platforms to keep managers up to date with even the slightest changes in their inventory.
In summary, if you want accurate and real-time tracking data that helps reduce the costs and can predict usage patterns and other ROI-influencing factors, you will need to consider a more advanced system.
Use Tracking Technology to Cut Costs
Depending on the type of technology you use, the setup and maintenance costs can be a bit steep. Therefore, it is helpful to know how the solution will help cut down costs in the long run.
Below, we highlighted some of the most obvious benefits, but there’s a good chance to discover others, depending on your company and needs.
Keep Track of Your Equipment
Regardless of the type and size of equipment your company manages, you need to keep a close track of their current state and approximate location.
This usually means dedicating at least a few hours each month (if not week) to update the inventory and check if all the equipment is still in good shape.
Now, this is a time-consuming process that increases the costs with personnel and it’s not even that accurate. In addition, if one item gets lost or is stolen, you will have to invest additional time and resources in finding it or filing a complaint with the authorities. Not to mention that process in itself is boring and can bring employee morale down pretty fast.
Luckily, all you need to avoid all these is the right type of asset tracking technology. For instance, you can use barcode asset tags and a real-time asset tracking system to reduce the time needed to update the inventory. In addition, it’s easier to know where an asset is and, due to barcode scanners, there will be no erroneous data in the system.
But it’s not just about reducing the costs – the right equipment tracking technology also increases organization and efficiency. Let’s take firefighters as an example – their resources are already limited and they are always on a course against time, so it is pretty difficult to track the equipment by hand.
On the other hand, if they use a simple automated tracking system (usually low-cost and easy to implement), the time to organize and check the equipment went down and the level of efficiency and organization went up.
Quick note: More advanced tracking systems can also help protect against theft or unauthorized use of equipment by sending geofence alerts in real-time.
Plan Maintenance Around Usage
Equipment maintenance is quite costly if it’s not performed regularly and on time. However, in order to keep your devices or vehicles running smoother for longer, it’s important to adjust the maintenance schedule according to usage.
And this is where tracking technology plays a huge role as some systems can send preventative maintenance alerts based on how the device is being used.
For instance, in the case of vehicles, the system sends alerts based on engine hours and performance trends (established by tracking and compiling the historic diagnostic data).
In addition, tracking systems are also useful if you are renting the equipment or you want to make sure drivers respect your indications on how to use the vehicle.
The data received from these systems allow you to know if your equipment is used according to the established standards.
In addition, more advanced technologies even allow remote support by providing access to engine diagnostics and fault codes.
In summary, the right equipment tracking technology helps businesses cut costs by providing managers with real-time data regarding use, maintenance, and repairs.
In addition, the system can keep the history of diagnostics, usage trends, performance, and more. This type of report allows businesses to understand how the equipment is being used and always stay aware of its status and location.
Increase Equipment ROI with Automated Reports
The data provided by a tracking system is extremely valuable in terms of planning, but it’s also a way to track performance and know just how much your ROI is for each piece of equipment.
This way, it will be easier to identify underused assets or make purchase decisions based on real-time data. Not to mention that asset tracking data is also useful to calculate equipment depreciation (and save money on taxes).
Lastly, if your organization works with grants, such a system is a godsend when it comes to reporting and audit.
And, if you’re using a system that integrates well with third-party resources (other automated systems, documents, and so on), the time spent to organize everything will be extremely reduced (which means lower costs).
Overall, the right tracking technology is helpful in identifying gaps, mistakes, trends, and more.
At the end of the day, equipment tracking should be a part of any business’s growth strategy. As long as you have an inventory and several employees, things get quite hectic and it’s difficult to keep track of everything on your own.
Equipment tracking automation technology provides managers with a better view of the business and it leads to lower costs and better productivity.