- Asset tracking is helpful for any small business owner who must know the physical location of crucial business assets.
- Tech solutions offer multiple asset-tracking methods so you can find the right one for your business.
- Geofencing is another solution that helps small business owners keep physical assets within certain boundaries.
- This article is for small business owners who want to track crucial business assets more effectively.
Staying on top of your company’s assets is a critical business practice, particularly for entrepreneurs and small business owners whose livelihoods often hinge on using business assets as efficiently as possible.
Implementing an asset-tracking system gives small business owners greater control over their assets, along with increased operational visibility. We’ll explore asset-tracking technology and methods, and explain why asset-tracking solutions are an essential component of any growing small business.
What is asset tracking?
Logging and tracking data is a critical aspect of running a small business. For example, business owners regularly log and track inventory, employee hours, accounts receivable, wages, and overall business expenses. Marketing professionals routinely track audience engagement.
Tracking vital business assets is another component of running an efficient, successful business.
Technology makes asset tracking manageable via software and hardware solutions that help small businesses monitor critical business assets across the community, state, country or even world.
Asset-tracking technology can boost small business owners’ ability to see all aspects of their operation. This increased visibility can lead to enhanced efficiency and a stronger bottom line.
Asset tracking is a crucial – yet often overlooked – aspect of running a business. Investing in asset-tracking technology can help business owners create a stronger, more efficient organization.
Did you know?: GPS fleet tracking is an asset-tracking type that makes sure vehicles operate efficiently and drivers are safe and responsible. Read our reviews of the best GPS fleet-tracking solutions if your business needs this type of transportation tracking.
What types of assets do businesses track?
Small businesses with any physical assets can benefit from asset tracking. These are some trackable assets:
- Heavy vehicle equipment like cranes, bulldozers and tractors
- Fuel storage tanks
- Propane tanks
- Chemical totes
- Beer kegs
- Shipping containers
- Rental equipment
- Medical equipment
- Laboratory equipment
- Expensive tools
As the market for returnable assets increases, asset tracking will continue to grow as an essential small business function.
Small business owners can track almost anything related to their business. Brainstorm with partners and your leadership team to determine which physical assets are essential for your business’s operation. Identifying these assets is the first step toward tracking them and ultimately saving your business money.
How does asset tracking work?
Before committing to an asset-tracking solution, you should understand how asset-tracking solutions work. In the past, companies would track assets in analog form with pen and paper. But this method was inefficient and didn’t provide many insights.
As technology developed, many businesses adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) as an asset-tracking method. While ERP is an excellent way to automate the tracking process, one of its shortcomings is the inability to track individual assets efficiently. Today, smartphones with high-resolution cameras are slowly updating the ERP process to incorporate scanning, tracking and identifying business assets more efficiently.
While your business should explore various asset-tracking methods, asset tracking boils down to two main components: software and hardware.
- Hardware-based asset-tracking: Some companies will provide you with hardware to install in specific types of assets. These devices will feed information back to a software platform that allows you to identify and monitor your assets.
- Software-based asset tracking: Other companies provide software-first tracking programs. This type of asset tracking handles the scanning and logging of critical company assets.
Communicate with your sales representative to find the asset-tracking method that works best for your business. The best asset-tracking method for your company depends on your business, the assets you need to track, and the information you want to gather in the tracking process.
Tip: In addition to tracking your assets, protect them with the right small business insurance policies.
Asset-tracking methods to consider
Identify your company’s needs before signing up for an asset-tracking solution. Ask a sales representative for information and costs about the following asset-tracking methods:
- Active GPS tags
How do barcodes work in asset tracking?
One of the most common methods of tracking assets is by scanning barcodes. Barcodes are ubiquitous in modern business, so it should be no surprise that they’re a common and effective way to track vital business assets.
Here are some upsides to barcode-based asset tracking:
- It’s inexpensive. Barcode scanning is a low-cost, versatile option for tracking business assets.
- You get excellent asset data capture. With barcode-based asset tracking, you can capture a great deal of information.
- It’s immediate. You have immediate access to each asset’s location.
While its simple, fast approach can make barcode-based asset tracking ideal for many businesses, barcode scanning also has disadvantages:
- It’s a manual process. The barcode-scanning process is usually manual, so you won’t see the advantages of an automated process.
- There’s a risk of damage. Barcodes can also become damaged, affecting how and when you can scan your assets.
If you use barcode asset tracking, you’ll also have to invest in hardware. Scanners can be part of a smartphone suite, or you can buy individual scanners for your asset-tracking process.
How does RFID work in asset tracking?
RFID technology uses radio frequencies and chips to transmit information to a receiver. While RFID-based asset tracking is more automated than barcode scanning, it’s also less versatile.
These are some of the benefits of RFID-based asset tracking:
- It works well for remote asset scanning. RFID technology’s remote-scanning feature is ideal for assets that aren’t easily accessible – especially larger assets that exist within containers.
- It’s excellent for scanning multiple assets. RFID-based asset tracking is ideal for business owners who need to scan multiple items simultaneously.
- It allows data storage and transmission from each asset. Because you can access data for each individual asset, RFID is ideal for highly valuable assets.
Here are some of the downsides of RFID-based asset tracking:
- It’s expensive. One of the biggest cons of RFID-based asset tracking is its high cost compared to barcode scanning.
- It has inherent issues. Users also have to deal with potential RFID problems, including radio interference and missed scans.
How do active GPS tags work in asset tracking?
GPS tag-based asset tracking technology involves installing hardware in assets and tracking them via a software platform. Unlike barcode scanning and RFID, no human intervention is required for tracking these assets. The device within the asset sends location data back to the central platform on a per-minute basis (or hourly, depending on your package).
GPS tag-based asset tracking is ideal for tracking larger assets, but it’s likely the most expensive asset-tracking method you’ll encounter.
How does geofencing work in asset tracking?
Geofencing is another asset-tracking method to keep in mind. With geofencing, you can create predetermined areas where assets must remain. If the assets exit these areas, you’ll be alerted and can begin the recovery process.
Geofencing can be particularly advantageous to businesses renting equipment within a defined area. Geofencing provides invisible boundaries that ensure your equipment, tools or other assets remain where they’re supposed to be.
Geofencing is also an excellent option for government contracting businesses that lease specialized equipment within offices or other predetermined areas of business operation.