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Digital Asset Tracking: One Size Does Not Fit All

As digital asset tracking continues to transform construction, oil and gas, and other sectors of heavy industry, companies are increasingly looking for all-in-one turn-key solutions that are easy to implement, fit their unique asset tracking needs, and generate a high return on investment. What many don’t realize, however, is that “turnkey solution” does not mean one size fits all. In fact, just the opposite.

Most industrial companies have a wide variety of asset tracking needs, from monitoring movement of vehicles and heavy equipment to scheduling preventive maintenance and managing yard inventory. To meet these diverse needs in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, today’s asset tracking devices and platforms have become more sophisticated, specialized and, most important, flexible.

In the early days of digital asset tracking, most systems were limited to bar code and RFID (radio frequency identification) tracking devices. As the industry evolved, it has added new technologies such as Bluetooth, GPS and will soon add satellite to meet the expanding requirements of industrial asset tracking. As tracking technologies have become more diverse, asset management providers such as Tenna have also developed the ability to integrate all of them into one consolidated software platform. This enables companies to “mix and match” different tracking devices suitable to each distinct type of asset they wish to track while eliminating the need for third-party applications to organize, store and manage the data.

The result is turnkey asset tracking solutions that offer unprecedented flexibility and customization for companies wanting to improve asset management.

A Specialized Tracker for Every Situation

With the right complement of tracking devices, industrial companies can easily manage everything in their fleets, yards and inventories. Matching the right tracking device to each specific need typically involves identifying the type of assets being tracked, how they are used, where they are located, what data you want to capture and how, and how frequently you expect the data to be visible. For example, if you want to track assets without human intervention, GPS or RFID trackers can automatically transmit the data without the need for someone to scan it. If you have a lot of smaller tools and materials to keep track of, Bluetooth asset tags and QR code tracking tags provide digital solutions that eliminate the need to track these assets by hand.

QR code tracking

Quick Response, or QR, code tracking works best for monitoring small tools and equipment and materials inventory. Simply attach a QR label or tag to the asset, and scan it using a vendor-provided app on your smart phone or tablet. Although cost-effective and easy to use, QR tracking is not automatic. Someone must be on site with the asset to scan and transmit the data.

RFID asset tracking

RFID tracking offers the perfect solution for companies whose assets are always on the move. By situating RFID antennas at entry gates, you can automatically track equipment when it enters or leaves a job site or yard in real time. Positioning fixed mount RFID stations adjacent to yard gates can detect equipment movement from a range of 100+ feet.

GPS tracking

Designed for monitoring stationary assets on job sites as well as vehicles and equipment on the go, GPS tracking devices transmit asset data in real time by connecting to cellular networks. They can also connect to onboard diagnostic ports to monitor location, speed, fault codes, and other diagnostic information, making them ideal for companies with large fleets where the assets frequently change location. Most GPS tracking devices offer plug-in and battery assisted options, depending on whether the asset has its own power source.

BLE asset tracking

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) trackers transmit regular “heartbeats” that are picked up by smart phone tracking apps. The apps record the location of the assets in real time and store the data on the software system in regular intervals – without requiring any involvement from workers in the field. Depending upon the power setting, the signals can be picked up within a range of 40 to 140 feet.

LoRaWAN asset tracking

If you can’t access a cellular network at a job site, LoRaWAN (low power, wide area network) tracking devices come to the rescue by creating tracking networks within designated boundaries. They connect to the Internet via Ethernet, and relay real-time data from non-cellular asset trackers to the vendor’s cloud service.

The Benefits of Custom Tracking Solutions

Matching the right tracking technology to each type of asset affords multiple benefits to industrial companies:

  • Management and field supervisors can easily track the location and movement of vehicles and assets no matter where they’re located
  • Crew members can focus on their work instead of keeping track of the assets
  • Management gains important insights into the utilization of company assets
  • Project Managers see reductions in unexpected repair costs by making it easier to keep up with scheduled maintenance
  • Clients reap the benefits of enhanced customer service through more efficient routing and reduced equipment downtime
  • Financial leadership can improve forecasting of operational expenses and future capital investment needs

Why settle for one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t fit your asset management needs? By offering more flexibility and choice than ever, today’s asset tracking systems make it easy to track your assets when, where and how you want and generate the return on investment your business needs.