By BCI
Bar Code India

If we ask what the industries worldwide run on – tools, equipment, vehicles, laptops, people, containers, raw materials, etc. will cross your mind. All this, coupled with frankly everything else that a business tracks, monitors and supervises, is the domain we call Asset Tracking. Quite honestly, the domain had stagnated for a while, experiencing a lack of innovation since  it embraced computing and the benefits it brought. Now however, IoT Tech is reinventing asset tracking systems for the next generation.

Asset Management, Tracking & IoT: The Basics

As the name suggests, asset tracking, or asset management, is trailing physical assets, often by scanning barcode labels added to the assets or using tags like GPS, RFID, etc., which transmit their location.

Asset tracking systems are vital since they apprehend vital information on the location and status of assets. Advancements, particularly in IoT tech, have made asset tracking simpler, less costly, and vigorous.

Asset Tracking Trends & Projections

A 2016 Supply Chain Resilience Report shows that 1 in every three organizations recorded losses of over $1 million in 2015, owing to supply chain disorders. Another finding by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and Zurich Insurance Group report exposed that the number of disruptions increased from 7% in 2015 to 22% in 2016.

Also, contrary to popular belief, most such disruptions are human or technical factors. Insurer Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty observed that 88% of business insurance claims dawned from technical or human factors and not natural catastrophes.

In case all this left you scratching your head, here’s the summing-up: Asset management systems and supply chain mechanisms call for refurbishing.

Introduction to IoT

From your Fitbits to voice assistants like Alexa to Tesla, IoT Tech is all around you. However, make no mistake – IoT is more than just consumer devices. IoT devices extend from everyday household objects to advanced industrial tools.

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents the network of real objects that we commonly call “things.” These objects are implanted with sensors, software, and other technologies. The idea behind IoT tech is to allow information exchange between various gadgets and systems over the internet.

The ever-increasing demands for customization, enhanced client experience, uncomplicated and automated processes have steered the industry towards IIoT, i.e., Industrial IoT. Industrial IoT involves using sensors to assemble data and turning it into relevant insights by cloud software.

IoT for asset management implies building intelligent systems that can self-amend minor issues and make efficient predictions by interpreting data.

These days, many asset-intensive industries employ IoT for asset management to leverage real-time information to help eliminate production congestions, lessen errors, trace accurate data, acquire helpful insights, etc.

Common Technologies in Asset Tracking Systems

Asset tracking maximizes operational performance and thwarts theft and asset loss. For some context-setting, here are the methods asset tracking systems hinge on.

Barcode

The barcode was a game-changer owing to its reliability and effectiveness for portable asset tracking. First used commercially in 1971, it’s still a very resourceful tool. Barcode asset tracking is cheap, agile, easy to apply, precise, and can be read by multiple technologies. A line of sight is obliged to scan them, which is an arduous task if the barcode is not simply accessible.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID runs on radio frequency chips or tags that, after scanning, forward the item details to the scanner. Seemingly similar to barcodes, RFID asset tracking systems are a significantly advanced option offering more advantages over barcode asset tracking systems. Like remote scanning, flexibility to scan multiple objects, and more. RFID asset tracking is more expensive than barcodes, uses limited scanning devices, and has a more significant probability of user mistakes due to missed scanning or scanning the wrong item.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC and RFID technology are similar. But, in NFC, employees can use their smartphones to retain trails of assets and index. NFC’s offer convenience and efficiency. The drawback is that the scanning range for this method is minimal (only a few inches).

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

An excellent fix for short-range situations where the asset is in the range of devices that can receive its signals. BLE asset tracking tags are cheap and can offer up to 10 years of battery life.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

GPS asset tracking systems make the process effortless. Each device accepts signals from the satellites, which determines the asset’s specific location. However, it can be unreliable in environments where a clear signal isn’t available.

Low Power, Wide Area Networks (LPWANs)

They provide long battery life and reliable long-range connectivity for asset trackers. Examples are (NB-IoT), LTE-M, Sigfox, etc. LPWAN tags are more expensive than BLE tags but operate without much infrastructure. This technology is excellent for periodic check-ins; but not for constant connectivity for real-time tracking.

Obstacles of Asset-intensive Business Sectors

The methods above all have their drawbacks, which affect asset management:

  1. Running out of stocks or excess production

Ascertaining the appropriate amount to stock up on an asset is a herculean task.

Dealing with stock management makes you prone to deficit or excess assets. This leads to delays in workflows or unplanned overhead expenses. This is the outcome of an incompetent system. To contend this, companies need an inventory tracking system that allows minimum threshold alerts for all assets. Excess stock takes up valuable warehouse space and eventually becomes obsolete.

  1. Equipment malfunctions or maintenance concerns

A recent study suggests that aging machines and improper maintenance cause sudden, unexpected interludes.

Companies grappling with equipment breakdowns must update their service programs by executing rigorous maintenance plans.

Preventative maintenance leads to:

  • Heightened effectiveness and productivity of tools
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Extended uptime and the serviceable life of assets
  • Reducing labor downtime
  1. Assets loss due to misplacement or burglary

Reports show that firms can lose up to $10M worth of income due to inadequate security. Asset thefts are common, and a lot of money can be saved by proper asset management. Asset tracking solutions let asset managers label every tool and equipment with the proper tech.  They can allot a unique serial number to each of their assets, allowing companies to track ownership in case of unauthorized usage or misplacement.

When equipment is lost or stolen, the procedures are affected, and project deadlines – extended.

  1. Human error

It is human to make mistakes. Traditional asset tracking methods spurt this. For example, while cost-efficient and relatively easy to implement, the spreadsheet tracking method can be prone to errors due to multi employees manually inputting data at once.

  1. Decay of Resources

Mislaid assets and equipment can unfavorably affect a company and its operations due to lost labor hours, work stoppages, delayed project deliverables, etc.

If the required asset is not found, operations suffer by being delayed or by becoming inefficient as workers have to wait for a substitute asset.

Asset Infinity says: “If a worker waits for 5 minutes and the entire crew has 100 workers, the organisation loses 500 minutes per day. In effect, the organisation is losing valuable work hours and consequently productivity.”

IoT-Driven Digital Asset Management Solutions

Reports foretell the asset tracking IoT tech market to triple by 2022 [source]. IBM listed asset tracking as one of the top five industrial IoT use cases. Companies have turned for smooth operations by authorizing employees to access and update asset information.

The company’s assets are tagged with asset tags (NFC tags, RFID, etc.) and managed with asset management software. The assets can be scanned with mobile devices.

The software gives companies important asset information: location of an asset, who is using it, asset condition, specific maintenance schedule, asset’s user manual, etc. All the knowledge can be obtained and refreshed with a couple of taps on mobiles.

What IoT tech delivers to Asset Tracking Systems

IoT in asset tracking systems involves automating processes and adding AI to many parts of the workflow that were initially performed manually.

IoT-enabled asset management solutions combine predictive maintenance, top-down visibility of the asset status, and real-time alerts through IoT sensors. The IoT sensors allow companies to track asset information without any human engagement. They can be stuck to assets either instead of or with conventional asset tags like barcodes or QR codes.

There are many acceleration, temperature, pressure, etc., sensors available. Sensors gather data, which is pushed to a cloud platform at a predetermined frequency, depending on technology and settings used for data transmission. The data is then analyzed and then transformed into actionable insights like asset’s location, usage, environment, locations, and condition.

IoT-enabled asset management solutions provide companies in any industry with predictive analytics, real-time alerts, automatic reporting, data insights, and much more.

Use Cases for IoT-enabled asset management

Transportation IoT – Devices tracking GPS location data are used in transportation asset management, and IoT enables the smart tracking of vehicles, fleets, e-scooters, bikes, etc.

IoT for Medical/ Healthcare Fields – In healthcare, IoT systems track equipment and other assets.

Manufacturing – In manufacturing, IoT asset tracking monitors supplies and warehouse records. It can also monitor other equipment, and the platform can help view analytics regarding usage, downtime, or maintenance.

Real-Time Visibility

Whenever the assets & goods are placed in-door, outdoor, or in transition, IoT can get real-time information for future events and planning.

For instance, farmers can utilize actionable information to improve yields and for increased return on investment. Detecting soil moisture, nutrients, controlling water use for plant growth, and deciding the fertilizers are some simple and effective usage of IoT technology.

IoT can likewise bring analytics on fast-selling stocks and help manage assets and grow the business.

Supply Chain Efficiency

The supply chain delivers heavy equipment, representing more than 2500 megatons of carbon impression every year. Significantly, organizations show more responsible & dependable behavior to trace equipment.

IoT sensors & asset management software empowers organizations to track, analyze, and monitor supply chain movement at every level.

Data-Driven Technology

IoT innovations in business can provide great insights. The information through IoT can empower organizations to understand customer behavior, utilize an item, and request customer needs.

With IoT data, you will dig your customer better as it provides patterns like when and why they purchased your product, how they utilize them, etc. IoT is making it more straightforward for the manufacturers and providers to understand a customer’s perspective.

Safety

Safeguarding the asset is indispensable. In the transport logistics industry, when the asset is on-road, it is prone to accidents. The roads are not always equipped with street lights or are well maintained, which gives rise to accidents and loss of lives and property.

The following medical expenses are in billions. Usage of mobile phones while driving is a significant cause of accidents. This problem is expected to be solved with IoT technology.

American companies are assisting the government in this venture. They are employing IoT sensors with mobile phones to moderate driver behavior. The application can offer instructions to drivers to take due precautions.

Fleet Management

IoT provides accurate data about the traffic. When you have adequate information, you can create a strategy accordingly to save fuel expenses and avoid traffic jams. IoT has a crucial in vehicle maintenance as it gathers information about vehicle repair & maintenance.

When a vehicle is given to an employee, IoT technology gives transparency. It can track where the vehicle has traveled through that you can know if the vehicle is used for personal reasons or some other.

Future of Transport Logistics in India

India has become the one-stop destination for logistics service providers all over the world. The growth of the economy has primarily driven the demand for transport logistics services in India.

India is witnessing a big retail boom as the buying capacity of the middle and upper-middle classes of the population has reached new heights. MNCs from the retail industry are planning to set up operations in India, and prominent local retailers plan to expand their horizons.

Conclusion

Every organization in virtually every industry deals with physical assets that need to be tracked. IoT asset tracking systems have proved to be a dynamic way to track assets and make workflows much more efficient for organizations and their employees.

IoT is a powerful tool & technology and can be very helpful to logistic businesses. It can assist in combating problems like maintenance, compliance, tracking assets, etc. To gather more insights, contact us here.

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