If you’re tracking portable assets with a manual or paper-based system, chances are you’ve thought about switching to an asset tracking software solution. You’re aware of some of the benefits, like increased accuracy and efficiency, but you’re not sure that’s enough for you to take the leap.
Many forward-thinking companies are finding ways to change the game within their industries by using asset tracking software to achieve operational advantages. They’re gaining added value by fully exploiting the data collection capabilities of mobile handheld devices and doing something meaningful with the wealth of data gathered routinely from on-going system activity.
Below are some perceptions you might have about asset tracking software. Read on to learn which ones are true (but don’t tell the entire story) and which ones are false.
Perception: I’ll know where my assets are.
An asset tracking software solution will tell me the location of my assets. I’ll know exactly what assets are where and I’ll gain greater accountability for their usage.
Reality: You’ll also know where your assets have been.
In addition to knowing an asset’s current location, you will have an historical record spanning the life of the asset. Not only will you know where each asset has been, you also will know every transaction that has occurred. This detailed history is helpful in providing evidence to settle customer disputes, documentation for government regulations and product recalls, and verification of maintenance performed for warranties.
Following a major hurricane, one company received a number of medical oxygen cylinders that likely were contaminated by hydrocarbons from overflowing fuel tanks. The company used the history stored in the asset tracking system to back-trace the cylinders to the customer who originally received them. The company was able to prevent a catastrophe by warning the customer of the potential dangers of cylinders that might still be at their location.
Perception: Accuracy and efficiency will improve.
My manual, paper-based processes are time-consuming and error-prone. I’ve heard that automating these processes will minimize mistakes, increase compliance with established workflows and eliminate unnecessary steps.
Reality: Visibility across the entire business will improve.
With asset tracking, it’s easy to determine cycle times for key processes, pinpoint production slowdowns and identify customers who are costing you money. In short, companies can respond quicker to changing conditions and customer needs.
Consider an industrial gas distributor who regularly delivers cylinders to and receives empties from a customer. An asset tracking report can alert the distributor if the customer suddenly begins returning all empty cylinders. This could be an indication that the customer is preparing to switch suppliers. The distributor can attempt to retain the business by responding quickly and addressing any issues with the customer.
Perception: I’ll better manage my assets.
I know that automated data collection will help me capture data that will help me utilize my assets more efficiently. I’ll better allocate assets between locations to prevent shortages and ensure orders are filled.
Reality: Invoicing is better managed.
While asset tracking enables better asset utilization, it’s important to get paid for the orders that are delivered. Deliveries can go unbilled with a paper-based system as documents often get lost or mishandled. Asset tracking software eliminates lost documents since transactions are recorded with a mobile device and enter the business system in real time.
Evidence shows that companies are catching and fixing billing mistakes on as much as 4% of all deliveries. One company reported fixing enough billing errors to pay for their entire asset tracking software solution.
Perception: I don’t have time to initialize all my assets into the tracking system.
I have thousands of assets. It’s going to take a long time to attach a barcode or RFID tag to each one and initialize them into the tracking system. I’m not sure I can afford the time.
Reality: Better utilization results in substantial savings.
Many companies have an idea of how many assets they own, but few have an exact count. It takes only a minute or so to initialize each asset using a mobile device, and once it’s done, the number of under-utilized assets in inventory is often surprising.
Asset tracking software enables companies to easily determine which assets have been at a customer site longer than expected. When a company is short on assets, the tracking software finds the assets that could be returned and reused. One company reported one-time savings of $250,000 because they found so many assets that they didn’t need to purchase new ones for an entire year.
Perception: I could lose money.
When my customers call about a billing error, they usually complain that I’ve overcharged them. Any improvement in accuracy will favor my customers and I’ll find that my revenues are less than I thought.
Reality: Revenues increase.
Customers rarely call when you’ve undercharged them. Companies that charge rent on their assets and use an asset tracking software solution increase rental revenue by finding hidden assets sitting at customer sites.
Consider a case where a customer has three of your assets onsite, but due to a past error shows a rental balance of only two. If the customer always evenly exchanges two assets, you will never know that the customer really has three unless you either audit the customer or track your equipment with asset tracking software. Experience shows that companies that implement tracking software can increase rental billings by as much as 8%.
Perception: I’ll see the status of my business in real-time.
It’s difficult to trust the data from my manual tracking system. It’s only as up-to-date as when the information is keyed in, and even then, human errors occur frequently. I’m sure an asset tracking software solution will provide more accurate data when I need it.
Reality: Customer loyalty increases.
Because asset tracking software reduces errors and captures data in real time, companies have confidence in the data and are able to share it with customers in real time. This helps to eliminate balance and billing disputes. Some even give customers user IDs and passwords so they can view their asset information online.
Asset tracking software provides a single view of the truth. Customers appreciate the transparency of information, which enhances trust and accountability and strengthens relationships. Because customers recognize the value, companies can add a tracking fee to customer rental invoices.
Perception: Employees will resist the change.
Many of my employees are not computer savvy. The thought of learning new technology scares them. They’ll see this new system as extra work. It’s not worth the risk of upsetting the staff. Maybe it’s better to stick to the current paper-based process so we don’t rock the boat.
Reality: Employees take pride in a culture of accuracy.
Employees learn that an automated system means less manual work because things are done right the first time. They trust that the work they’re doing is accurate. Teamwork thrives as they all understand the importance of their roles.
Warehouse workers and drivers can learn how to use a tracking system in less than 20 minutes, and they actually appreciate the elimination of time-consuming paperwork. One company went a step further and incentivized data accuracy by awarding employees with quarterly bonuses earned by keeping mistakes to a minimum.
What are your perceptions about asset tracking? Did any of the ones above hit home for you? Share your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.