Asset Tracking: A Brief History
Asset tracking, in the form we witness today, had to move through several reformations and innovations to take the shape of present asset management solutions that drive businesses today.
Right from prehistoric times, when we lived our life as hunters, we were quick to adopt a systematic view of our hunting and gathering skills. Thus, we began acquiring tools and weapons and started looking out for places to store our food. Fast forward to the civilized world, we set up supply chains to store and transport necessities from one place to another.
As commercial processes evolved, companies realized the need to track and manage their goods under transit or in-store to speed up their operations and have a clear view of their budget and accruing profits. Manual processes in asset registers developed around these businesses.
Management and tracking systems remained manual until the advent of computers. In the 1960s and 1970s, several efficient inventory management systems based on computers came into existence. Tech innovations gave way to better logistics and inventory management practices, giving way to the 1980s world of spreadsheets and map-based interfaces.
The 21st century brought further progress in the form of ERP systems for managing logistics and supply chains. However, ERP systems had their own set of inefficiencies like inaccuracies and gaps while recording, and the need to control and keep the asset register up to date.
Today, the ERP systems have been replaced by GPS asset tracking and other powerful technologies that are providing more visibility and control to businesses over their assets. All across the world, Asset Tracking System is a billion-dollar industry today allotting unique identities to assets for their real-time tracking and maintenance.
Asset Tracking Systems, and Their Benefits
An Asset Tracking system is a significant subset of an asset management solution. It is essentially a process by which a business tracks the real-time location and status of its physical assets using technologies such as Barcodes and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), GPS asset tracking systems, WLAN and Bluetooth technology, in combination or as a standalone.
Companies can track and record relevant information for a particular asset that might include standard features such as:
- Date of purchase and duration of use,
- The model’s name or other such description of the asset,
- Location of the asset,
- History of its usage and maintenance, and
- Identification codes or tags.
Asset tracking, unlike inventory management, tracks the assets significant for day-to-day operations in a company.
Several industries such as transportation and logistics, manufacturing, construction, and FMCG industries employ the utilities of ATS to keep a tab on the vital stats and real-time location of their valuable assets. Assets generally tracked include industrial machines and equipment, office furniture, computers, vehicles among others, specific to a particular company’s hierarchy of tracking preferences.
For instance, barcodes and RFID tags, the most popular asset tracking devices, help to give a unique ID to a particular asset whose information can easily be accessed via a mobile device. Barcodes are one-time writable tags that need to be scanned particularly from above while RFIDs are editable tags that can be read from any direction. Similarly, Several businesses across industries, today, employ fleet management and asset tracking software to wind their heads around the maintenance related issues of their fleet by connecting to a tracking device installed in the vehicle.
ATS, if implemented properly, can prove a gamechanger for any business whose performance depends on the vitality of its assets:
- Assets depreciate and wear off, get moved around, are sold, or written off on a continuous basis, altering the on-site layout of assets. ATS provides ready access to precise and instantaneous information about the assets saving the company from administrative hassles.
- With a proactive asset tracking plan in place, companies can save valuable time and money by eliminating the need for paperwork, reducing errors, improving asset accountability and overall asset visibility. When the assets are tracked in real-time, the risk of them getting lost, stolen, or misplaced is reduced. Also, inefficient, or damaged assets can be timely removed from the books as well as the premises further saving on associated costs and unplanned breakdowns.
- Asset tracking also helps to prepare for contingencies, future growth and meet regulatory requirements. For instance, a transport company needs to meet specific regulations for their vehicles to be on the road legally.
Impact of ATS – A case study
A Report on Asset Tracking Market (2021-2026) posited the value of ATS markets at USD 17.14 billion in 2020. The markets are expected to cross USD 34.82 billion at a CAGR of 13.45% by 2026.
Industrial machines, equipment, vehicle fleets, etc, require huge capital and enterprise on part of the companies. As such, their tracking and monitoring become paramount for the efficient and effective working of any company. The industry 4.0 practices are fast gaining traction among industry peers where smart factories employ a combination of automated tags, wearables, and systems for monitoring the physical processes on and off the site. Here are some interesting use cases of successful ATS deployment:
Case Study I
A leading chemical giant in India based in Gujarat uses an RFID-powered asset/vehicle tracking system to track the movement of its fleet of 800 trucks carrying different raw materials in and out of the plant premises on a daily basis. Earlier, the company tracked its trucks via a manual paper-based process of data entry at every stage of loading and unloading. The process was highly inefficient and time-consuming.
The limited visibility and regular delays were causing the costs and held-up time for trucks to increase. After a week-long intensive study of the on-site operations at their Bhavnagar plant, the BCI team deployed an RFID-powered vehicle tracking system to manage their movable assets in just three months optimizing the turnaround time of vehicles by 85%.
In another plant in Rajasthan, the client needed a system to ensure the regular cleaning, testing, and maintenance of its chlorine tonners for ensuring worker safety at the plants. The earlier ERP system was manual, offered less visibility and almost no real-time information about the status of the containers and tonners. This was causing them delays and overstocking issues.
The BCI team studied the plant conditions extensively and suggested an end-to-end RFID-enabled solution that would help in tracking the movement of chlorine tonners inside the premises. The solution was seamlessly integrated in 5 days to provide the required scalability and real-time tracking of the assets.
Case Study II
A leading food product marketing company in India uses a SaaS-based mobiVUE asset management system for monitoring its 1,50,000 plus deployed field assets, including their visibility, utilization and maintenance. Earlier, the company used ERP spreadsheets to update its asset data manually. The entire process was cumbersome and prone to errors.
To overcome the inability to validate transactions and view the on-field assets in real-time, the client implemented a QR-code based asset tracking system developed by BCI’s team. The solution helped the food industry behemoth to achieve end-to-end visibility and traceability of assets. The deployment took seven weeks with record downtime across all dealerships and retailers of the client.
The BCI Edge
BCI’s mobiVUE asset management system provides a superior edge to businesses by providing a systematic approach to governing and managing business assets. The mobiVue tracking system provides real-time tracking of assets between locations, both within and outside the business premises. BCI helps businesses seamlessly integrate BCI’s tracking systems into their AIDC technologies and ERPs of its clients. Its end-to-end tracking systems provide 100% visibility to the business assets right from the acquisition stage to the final allocation, also considering the replacement, transfer and reconciliation post allocation.
With BCI’s mobiVue companies can always have complete control over their assets, assisting their business processes towards better productivity and reduced costs.