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What is Asset Tracking? Brian Dziuk | Sep 18, 2017 12:06:44 PM

As an asset manager, you're responsible for the high-value assets your fleet relies on to do business.

How can you protect them and and ensure they're always where they're supposed to be? Asset tracking can be your solution!

So, here's all you need to know about asset tracking and how you can use this technology to improve your fleet operations.

The Definition of Asset Tracking

Asset tracking, sometimes referred to as asset management, is a method of monitoring the location of an asset in the field by tagging it with a GPS tracking device. 

Why Should You Track Your Assets?

You should not wait until something happens to one of your assets to spring into action. After all, some things are too valuable to be replaced. The loss of such items could disrupt your operations and keep you from meeting key obligations.

It is imperative to employ every necessary means to ensure that all your domestic and commercial assets are secure to avoid the burden of replacing them. With an asset tracking system, you can go about your other business without worrying whether your assets are in safe hands or whether they are doing the work for which they were acquired.

What Kinds of Asset Can You Track?

GPS tracking is often used primarily for vehicles. However, you can track almost anything, such as a backup generator or a refrigerated trailer. They can also be used to track other small, high-value objects.

Your business laptop, for example, could cost your business thousands of dollars if it is stolen with all the important documents and client contracts. Even with insurance, the loss would have far-reaching impacts beyond the cost of the laptop.

Who Can Use Asset Tracking?

Since nearly any type of asset can be tracked, nearly anyone can use asset tracking! However, fleet managers and asset managers are the ones most commonly using asset tracking technology on a large scale. 

The Responsibilities of an Asset Manager

An asset manager has many responsibilities, including:

  • Tracking the location of each asset to ensure it is in the right place at the right time
  • Making sure assets aren't lost by an employee
  • Reducing instances of asset theft and reporting them if they do occur
  • Ensuring contracts are carried out properly when renting out assets to other parties
  • Scheduling asset maintenance
  • Building routes to get assets from point A to point B
  • Ensuring the business is providing excellent customer service and monitoring customer satisfaction scores 

Challenges Facing Asset Managers

Since asset managers have numerous responsibilities, it can be difficult to monitor so many assets and keep track of so much data. Fleet management software can help by compiling all of your asset tracking data into one place and giving you clear reports with actionable insights. 

Another major challenge facing asset managers is the fact that no one manager can be in every vehicle or with every asset at once. Luckily, asset tracking makes it possible to monitor the location of all your assets remotely and in real-time. This way, no matter where you are, you'll have peace of mind that all your assets are where they are supposed to be—even though you aren't physically with them.

The Benefits of Asset Tracking

There are many benefits of asset tracking that can transform your fleet operations, including:

  • Increased theft protection. High-value assets can make tempting targets for thieves. With a GPS asset tracking system, you can remotely track the location of your important assets at all times, helping you quickly identify when an asset is stolen so it has a better chance of being recovered.
  • Improved contract enforcement. If you rent out assets to be used by other parties, using an asset management system can help with contract enforcement. For example, with location tracking capabilities, you can make sure the assets you're renting out aren't leave the agreed-upon service/use area in your contract.
  • Improved maintenance. By tracking use statistics for hours worked and time since last maintenance check, you can optimize your maintenance schedule for an asset so that it always remains in top condition.
  • Better customer support. By tracking the current status of assets in the field, you can give more accurate arrival times and increase your responsiveness to emergency situations in order to provide better customer support and earn better satisfaction scores. 

Standard Features of Asset Tracking Systems

Before you think of investing in an asset tracking system, you should be familiar the standard features of one to make sure you get the most reliable one for your needs. Having this information can help save you time and money.

Some common features of an asset tracking system that you may want to review include:

What They Track

You can invest in specialized asset tracking devices of different kinds. These devices can be categorized depending on the work they do, including:

  • Motion/acceleration
  • Asset location
  • Asset activation or deactivation
  • Hours of use
  • Temperature
  • Time of access (Door open/closing)

A business manager or owner should be able to maintain control of business assets wherever they are in the field. Using highly sophisticated tracking software, you will be able to track the assets even when you are on the move or vacation.

Stand-Alone Software

You can decide to buy stand-alone software that enables you to access tracking data with customizable interfaces. While common, the specifics of this software can vary wildly from one tracking provider to the next.

Power Sources

XT4970Tracking devices use different power sources depending on the size and nature of the asset. Small, unpowered assets use battery-powered trackers, while massive assets often use tracking devices that are connected to power sources.

Some trackers use rechargeable batteries that can be plugged into a power source to charge while the asset is in use, and use the battery at other times. This is great for assets that are used intermittently, such as construction equipment.

You may even opt for the solar-powered gadget that will save you energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. This is a great option for assets that don't have any kind of power supply but require near-constant tracking.

Water Resistance

Queclink_GL300VC

Tracking assets that work inside or under water can create some issues for asset tracking devices. However, you can get a water-resistant tracker for such devices. When water resistance is an issue, it's important to check if the device is merely water-repellent (i.e. it can take some rain) or truly water-resistant. If it is water-resistant, to what depth is the device resistant?

Web-Based or Locally-Installed Software

TTU700Software for an asset tracking and management system used to require installation on your business' computers directly. This meant that you would be responsible for maintaining the system to the latest updates for security and functionality.

However, in recent years, many asset tracking providers have started to offer web-based software. This makes it easier for you to access the data on any of your internet-connected devices—such as your smartphone or tablet—so you can access tracking data on the go. Also, security and other software updates are handled by the manufacturer automatically on these services, so there's no need for you to spend more on IT overhead to maintain your software.

Specifications

When you go out to buy an asset tracking system, consider specifications such as:

  • The configuration- (LTE, HSPA, UDP/TCP /SMS, etc)
  • Antenna type –(Internal, external cellular, GPS)
  • Accelerometer (number of axis)
  • Messaging (Packet data or SMS-based)
  • Support (Will you need accessory cables?)
  • Bluetooth availability
  • Automatic/ manual firmware download
  • Water resistance
  • Battery life
  • Inputs/ Outputs

When it comes to asset management, there is no room for taking chances. An asset tracking system is the best way to have the peace of mind to keep your fleet running efficiently.

If you want to learn more about asset management with GPS tracking, reach out to a Rastrac expert today!

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