No matter what type of business you operate, tracking your physical assets is essential so you can optimize their utilization and improve overall productivity.
But keeping track of assets like vehicles and equipment isn’t easy. If one goes missing or is misused by an employee, it can cost your company big time.
So how can you track high-value assets and protect against loss or theft? How can you monitor the activity of the vehicles in your fleet and improve your operations?
This is where asset tracking comes in.
In this article, we’ll look at what asset tracking is and why it’s important. We’ll also look at the tools you can use to track powered and non-powered assets.
What is asset tracking?
Asset tracking is the process of keeping track of assets. This is done through radio-frequency identification (RFID) trackers and handheld devices to scan barcode labels. However, the best asset trackers use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology with cloud connectivity.
Companies rely on such devices to track the real-time locations of two types of assets:
- Powered assets: Powered assets have their own power source. Examples include commercial trucks, construction equipment, and consumer vehicles.
- Non-powered assets: Non-powered assets don’t have a motor or power source. Some examples include shipping containers, trailers, and ancillary equipment like ladders, vacuum pumps, and sensors.
With a telematics solution like CalAmp, companies can set up custom monitoring and get complete visibility of every asset. Fleet managers can use these insights to ensure optimal utilization and prevent costly downtime.
Assets are often confused with “inventory,” but they’re not the same. Inventory includes products that a company intends to sell. In contrast, assets include equipment and machinery that are used to create or manage those goods.
With asset tracking, you can track your assets, view their utilization, and even monitor their condition. It can also assist with recovery if something gets lost or left behind at a job site.
How does asset tracking work?
The days of using paper logs and spreadsheets to track assets are long gone. Today’s asset tracking technology is much more robust. Asset tracking solutions consist of three main components: hardware, connectivity, and software.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
GPS trackers have a built-in GPS receiver that transmits location data over a network. They’re typically equipped with high-capacity batteries, making them perfect for non-powered assets.
By attaching a GPS tracker to your assets, you can locate them on a map and get their locations in real-time. This is useful for fleet managers, as they can see where their vehicles are and provide timely updates to their customers.
Smart proximity sensors like CalAmp Tags communicate via Bluetooth and are paired with a telematics edge device. If an asset separates from a device it was paired with, the system alerts the driver. This helps minimize tool, equipment and cargo loss.
The type of asset tracker you use will depend on your needs.
You’ll want to use GPS trackers if you need real-time tracking capabilities. But if you’re looking to prevent asset loss and minimize schedule delays, consider investing in proximity sensors.
Asset trackers are equipped with radio modems and a range of sensors that continuously send and receive data over a network. Some asset trackers like our TTU-730™ LTE CAT-1 feature LTE CAT-1 connectivity, which transmits location data over a 4G LTE network.
LTE CAT-1 offers reliable and wide-area connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT). It supports continuous connectivity and consumes less power, making it ideal for battery-operated trackers.
With your asset trackers in place, you need a way to see their locations and monitor equipment utilization. The final piece of an asset tracking system is the software.
Fleet and asset management solutions like CalAmp enables you to track the location of your assets from a single screen. You can also create on-demand reports that provide insights into their utilization.
When connected to a telematics solution, you can view data for your fleet like mileage, engine idling time, fuel usage, and more. This helps you streamline your fleet operation.
With these three components in place, asset tracking solutions help companies track the locations of their assets, monitor their utilization, and recover them if something gets lost or misplaced.
What are the benefits of asset tracking?
Asset tracking offers numerous benefits, whether you run a small-scale operation or a large commercial enterprise. Here are just a few.
Get real-time location details
A major challenge that fleet managers faced in the past was tracking vehicles and assets from one location. This lack of visibility frequently led to miscommunications and delayed schedules.
Asset tracking devices provide real-time tracking via GPS. If you need a certain piece of equipment for a job, you can see exactly where it is and send someone to locate it.
Safeguard against loss or theft
The loss of any equipment can hamper your operations and cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to replace. Asset tracking capabilities like CalAmp offers can send alerts if any tools or high-value assets are left behind.
With software like the CalAmp application, you can create “custom geofences” or virtual perimeters for vehicles and other assets. If they go past those boundaries, you can receive an instant alert. This helps safeguard against theft.
Fleet managers can rest easy knowing exactly where their assets are at all times. If something gets left behind, operation managers can determine its last known location and recover it.
Maximize asset utilization
Assets like vehicles and equipment are expensive to own, especially when you factor in maintenance and storage costs. Even unused assets cost money. In fact, companies pay an average of $945 per idle vehicle a month.
Asset tracking helps you understand how your assets are being used. If an asset is underutilized, you can either sell it or find other uses for it. If it’s being overutilized, it may be time to purchase an additional vehicle or extra equipment.
Solutions like CalAmp application let you see a complete breakdown of how each of your assets are being used.
With these insights, fleet managers can identify assets that are underutilized and deploy them to areas with higher demand.
Reduce maintenance costs
Performing regular maintenance like changing the oil, rotating the tires, and replacing air filters keeps your fleet in good condition. It also prevents small issues from turning into more costly repairs. However, maintaining a large fleet isn’t easy without the right tools.
When you use asset trackers with CalAmp, you can automate preventative maintenance and schedule reminders based on usage metrics like mileage. You can also get real-time alerts if a vehicle triggers an engine fault code and take action accordingly.
Improve customer service
Delivering exceptional customer service is key to retaining business. 86% of consumers will stop doing business after just two poor customer experiences. When customers depend on your company for a job or delivery, delivering top-notch customer service is a must.
Asset trackers enable you to provide customers with real-time delivery updates and shipping notifications. If a vehicle unexpectedly breaks down, you can see what assets are available and quickly dispatch a technician to prevent further delays. This will help you deliver better customer service.
Use cases for asset tracking
No matter what industry you operate in, your company can benefit from asset tracking. Here are several practical use cases for asset trackers.
Managing a fleet is simple enough when you only have a few vehicles. But managing fuel costs, staying on top of maintenance, and meeting compliance requirements become much harder as your fleet expands.
With the right asset tracking solution, fleet managers can view asset locations, utilization, engine diagnostics, driving behavior, and more. These insights will help streamline your fleet operations and even reduce your costs.
GPS trackers from CalAmp helped one Florida County department save $150,000 a year in fuel costs. The county was able to tackle gas-guzzling activities like excessive idling and speeding thanks to the CalAmp application. The implementation has also led to safer driving behavior by rewarding drivers for good driving performance.
Loss and theft prevention
The loss of a single tool can prevent projects from getting completed on time. Workers have to spend valuable time searching for it and may have to order a replacement in some cases.
Proximity sensors like CalAmp Tags can minimize tool, equipment and cargo loss. They communicate via Bluetooth to a telematics device installed in a work vehicle. If the vehicle leaves a job site without a tool, the system alerts the driver and provides its last known location.
Theft is another unfortunate issue that companies have to contend with. Examples include employees using assets like vehicles and supplies for side work or personal use.
In one case, the owner of an HVAC company suspected that employees were using Freon for side jobs. Thanks to CalAmp Tags, he was able to confirm his suspicions and identify the employees who were stealing Freon. The owner has since started using CalAmp Tags to track tools that were often stolen or left behind.
Asset trackers let you do more than track locations and utilization. You can also use them to monitor equipment and external conditions.
Food Freshness needed a way to monitor glycol chillers, which are used to control the temperature of chilling systems. Malfunctions can spoil inventory and disrupt operations.
Food Freshness integrated CalAmp TTU-2830™ with temperature sensors and set it up to send alerts to staff when it detects any fluctuations that need immediate attention.
CalAmp® TTU-2830™ also supports other types of sensors that can monitor humidity and water leaks in the environment. If you store equipment that’s sensitive to humidity, you can set up asset trackers to send alerts if those levels exceed a certain threshold.
Features to look for in an asset tracking solution
Choosing the right asset tracking solution that meets your business needs is essential. Here are a few things to look for.
Durable and programmable hardware
Choose asset trackers that are designed to withstand rugged environments and harsh weather conditions. They should also include programmable functionality so you can customize them to capture and transmit specific types of data to meet your business needs.
Real-time monitoring is an essential feature. Look for asset trackers that use GPS technology with cloud connectivity to track the real-time locations of your asset and monitor their status.
Intuitive dashboards are a basic requirement for any asset tracker. They enable your users to operate more efficiently without a steep learning curve. CalAmp lets you easily track and monitor your assets from one screen.
Easy setup process
An overly complicated setup process will only leave users feeling frustrated. Look for an asset tracking solution that you can start using within minutes.
Integrations let you build a more powerful telematics system. With our programmable APIs, you can connect our asset trackers to different telematics providers and even third-party applications like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
Asset trackers provide insights that you can leverage to streamline your operations. They should include a robust reporting feature that lets you quickly visualize and analyze KPIs like asset utilization.
Serves all stakeholders
Asset trackers should serve all stakeholders in an organization, including fleet managers, maintenance managers, safety managers, project managers, dispatchers, and executives.
The best asset trackers let you track your assets from different devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This accessibility enables you to manage your efforts whether you’re in the office or working remotely.
Asset trackers give you full visibility into the locations of powered and non-powered assets. The right tracking solution helps you maximize asset utilization, safeguard against theft, and improve customer service.