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Asset management vs Asset Tracking: What’s the difference

Asset management is a wide term and refers to different things across different industries. Essentially, it refers to the control and management of tangible or intangible products and resources belonging to the parent entity. So, for manufacturing industries, it is the control and management of raw materials, finished goods, warehouse inventory etc. In retail industries, it is the control and management of goods moving through the supply chain and fixed assets. For services industries, asset management includes managing and controlling consumables, personnel movements, and monitoring tangible goods like equipment and inventory.

In fact, asset tracking is a subset of asset management. It involves monitoring and controlling the movement and location of an asset. It is a critical process in various asset-intensive industries and includes, among others, equipment, stock, vehicles, or infrastructure. Properly tabulated and accurate asset tracking data is used in various ways. Generally, such data helps in monitoring conditions, scheduling maintenance, achieving compliance, automating inventory management, calculating depreciation values, and improving lifecycle management. Additionally, the data is also useful for vital top management decision-making concerning enterprise-level asset management. Especially, such decisions revolve around supply chain management, logistics management, warehouse management, resource allocation, and budgeting.

Asset management, asset tracking and technology

RFID (radio-frequency identification) is a technology solution that works by encoding digital data within tags or smart labels. Next is capturing the data using a reader through radio waves. The wireless system can transfer basic data or communication between the two components for faster and paperless information processing. RFID is a part of Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) in terms of technology. AIDC deploys systems enabling automatic identification of objects, gathering data about them and auto-tabulating them directly into linked information infrastructure. There is minimum human involvement in the entire cycle. There are little or no errors in the data across the process.

Consequently, industries frequently deploy RFID technology to manage and track assets. It acts as a useful tool for supply chain management, hospital infant tracking, material tracking, warehouse management, etc. Likewise, vehicle tracking, human movement tracking, and marketing campaigns often depend on this technology. The setup is simple, consisting of only three components: a tag or smart label, a reader, and an antenna for data transmission. Undoubtedly, it is efficient and accurate. Systems based on RFID can take over a massive part of error-free data management without consuming major resources. Furthermore, it works in real-time in most cases.
The RFID components have also improved heavily with progress in technology, enabling widespread usage. A few such developments or improvements are:

  1. Tags are made of a variety of shapes and sizes to cater to a variety of assets, and they can be active or passive;
  2. Readers have become powerful, and they are compatible with the most modern data management systems;
  3. The antenna can transmit a large volume of data efficiently for updation in real-time

Naturally, automation and technology drive asset tracking and asset management work globally these days. The most common, effective and cost-efficient methods in vogue are barcode and RFID.

Asset management vs asset tracking: A strategic choice

Undoubtedly, businesses seeking an optimal solution for their needs ought to understand what technology can do in both areas. This understanding helps them choose the best-suited option from providers. Moreover, they can weigh their decision against their budget, scale and criticality of the data, and magnitude of operations. A strategic choice made with balanced considerations makes a winning formula. Furthermore, utility plays an important role in deciding whether to implement asset management or an asset tracking tool.

RFID powers asset tracking by automating the management and tracing of all linked physical assets. Automation helps in creating a faster data management system. Furthermore, it puts an end to tedious and highly error-prone methods involving paper documentation and excel spreadsheets. A system requirement for incorporating RFID only involves inputting an RFID tag with relevant data and attaching it to the asset. The data includes, among other things, name, amount, condition and location. Likewise, technical details such as manufacturing date or batch number are easily added in case of sensitive products.
The RFID tag’s radio waves transmit this information through strategically placed readers. A sophisticated asset tracking system stores this captured information systematically. Thereupon, it is analysed, monitored, controlled and actioned.
This type of tracking and monitoring process comes with many benefits:

  • It eliminates human intervention, preventing errors and manipulations;
  • Data collection happens in real-time
  • System-based management improves asset visibility by easily locating lost or misplaced assets
  • The software can be used to track multiple assets across multiple locations at any time due to automation
  • It maximises the accuracy of inventory, thereby drastically improving logistics and warehouse management

In fact, asset management and tracking software offer similar functionalities. Mostly, they are integrated into one versatile information management system in most scenarios. Finally, this information management system connects to the ERP infrastructure. It incorporates both asset management and tracking data to increase organisational productivity and business operation by saving time and money.

Fixed asset tracking and management are based on both mobile and/or cloud-based technology. As a result, one can upload and access data from multiple locations. Additionally, one can consolidate it further in order to streamline decision-making. Fixed asset tracking and management have become an essential part of business strategy to leverage competitive advantage. It helps businesses to remain on top of market movements around raw materials and finished goods.

Apart from tracking tangible resources, RFID technology is applied to human resource management in the service industries. Attendance tracking systems powered by biometric verification, swiping of access cards, and AI-supported 3D face recognition are common across corporations. Also, tracking company resources such as desktops, laptops, and other devices using smart tags has become easy. And that does not interfere with their usage. Smart thermal transfer printers completely do away with wires and enhance accessibility.

RFID based inventory management and tracking systems

RFID based inventory management and tracking systems

There are roughly four different categories of RFID systems for management and tracking:

  1. EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) systems: Retail stores often deploy them to monitor the presence or absence of items. They tag products and border entry and exit points with large antenna readers to detect unauthorised removal of goods.
  2. Portable Data Capture systems: Such systems use portable RFID readers so that they can be deployed in different settings.
  3. Networked systems: These have fixed-position readers that are connected directly to a central IMS (information management system), and transponders are positioned on personnel or moveable items.
  4. Positioning systems: These systems are used to automate the identification of exact locations of tagged goods or vehicles.

Many companies in the space are offering standard and customisable options for asset management and asset tracking. Technowave, a pioneer in the group, offers a bouquet of products and solutions suitable for a wide range of businesses.

As partners in implementing the business plan, Technowave offers asset valuation services that are backed by a proof of concept to demonstrate the effectiveness of the products and solutions in the real-life setup. The company also offers system study and gap analysis, deploying techniques such as case study, feasibility study, and gap analysis. This helps to determine the optimum solution for a client. A solution that aligns profitably with their goal besides being sustainable and scalable in the future. Technowave’s asset management and tracking solutions combine barcode and RFID products that can plug into any asset management system for implementation.

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