Five Great Expectations for Asset Tracking in our Business

May 12, 2020

By Aaron Allsbrook

Digital supply chain management, including asset tracking, monitoring, management and automation is becoming increasingly broad, as businesses are under pressure to extract as much cost as possible out of operations, while also improving service. I am sure you have heard all the terms – Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation, Digital Supply Chain Management, but are these buzzwords detached from what is practical and achievable?

The next-generation supply chain market is forecast to reach $75 billion by 2030, up from $32 billion in 2019, according to “Next-Gen Supply Chain Market – Global Forecast to 2030,” a study released by LogisticsIQ at the end of last year.

The report lays out the benefits of real-time product visibility, strategic sourcing and optimization, end-to-end management tools, inventory visibility and optimization, real-time manufacturing asset intelligence, fulfillment, efficient last mile delivery and above all else – dynamic demand and supply synchronization poised to improve outcomes for every participant in that supply chain.

The report also dives into the notion of new business models including Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS) given how complex the “art and science” of modern supply chains is becoming, in large part given advancements in IoT capability.

Asset tracking done well has natural benefits, and very fast ROIs. Our customers and partners have so many exciting use cases associated with supply chain management by installing sensors and communication devices drive everything from accurate asset tracking, to improved inventory management, predictive maintenance, and the ability to fine tune everything, including cash flow.

Without question, asset tracking and supply chain management has changed for the better.  What are the challenges to continue these improvements?

Rising demands for next-generation asset tracking, whether equipment, rail cars, parts, or other, is being driven by rising expectations with the businesses themselves.  Here are five “great expectations” we are addressing, and we love a good challenge!

  1. Can you reduce the expense of loss from theft or misplacement?

Equipment loss and displacement is a major problem faced by asset managers. An asset tracking solution can use bar code scanning, RFID tags, sensors or a combination to track every physical asset. This sounds obvious and easy, but in order to make a solution work, every physical asset needs to be serialized, the identifier needs to be registered to the network and system, and a “check in” / “check out” capability needs to be implemented.

This is easier to do with owned and operated assets, and more complicated to do when those assets are owned by a third party and there are levels of shared liability. This information allows companies to track ownership and be alerted to unauthorized activity, and by monitoring those assets, using software that allows for policies to be set and a notifications to be sent, organizations can dramatically reduce the costs associated with theft or “gone missing” situations.

  1. Can you make sure inventories are balanced and “just in time” provisioning and delivery is humming?

When it comes to stocking up on a particular asset, determining the right amount can be tricky, but it’s clear that having precisely the right assets at the right places at the right time can make a huge difference in outcomes, including the balance sheet. Putting in place asset tracking with big data analytics can make a huge difference, including setting minimum thresholds and taking into account delivery windows can make more than just a dent in results.

When it comes to existing stock, if a rail operator has too many rail cars in one location and needs them at another, enabling asset transfers with enough notice means additional cars do not have to be manufactured.

  1. Can IoT asset management systems reduce equipment failures and downtime?

Ageing equipment and lack of time to perform maintenance is one of the leading causes of unscheduled downtime. Service programs can be put in place as part of intelligent asset tracking and management projects. In this case, rigorous maintenance schedules can be integrated into the automation and workflow, making repairs and maintenance a routine action for equipment, like rail cars, that have a lifetime of 20, 30 or even 40 years.

This can be done by implementing a rigorous maintenance schedule. By using automated tracking software, firms can routinize repairs and maintenance for the length of the equipment’s lifecycle. Preventive maintenance increases the uptime and useful life of assets, boost productivity and lowers the overall cost of maintenance.

  1. How can asset tracking improve staff productivity?

Our asset tracking solutions make it easy for managers to see exactly where their assets are, who last checked them out or in, where they are using GPS, what kind of condition they are in, when they were last maintained, and more. Teams can subscribe to notifications and alerts, so in addition to regular reports, team members can decide when they wish to receive a text, email, or other smartphone message.

  1. Can asset tracking cure my regulatory compliance headaches?

For industries including Rail, Aviation, Oil and Gas, Electrical Energy, Construction, Mining, Manufacturing and Healthcare, equipment must meet safety regulations and prove maintenance is being completed. Organizations need to build and maintain a centralized database of asset ownership, aging, maintenance, certification and more to comply with increasingly strict regulations designed to ensure safety for workers, the surrounding community and the environment.

Without digital asset tracking and monitoring, audits can mean weeks or months of preparing manual reports; by using tracking software, employees responsible for compliance benefit from the record of each activity related to each asset. ClearBlade’s automated systems make it easy to pull error-free data which can be used for audits.

Asset tracking and management systems tackle the most complex and expensive asset tracking challenges, eliminate inefficient practices and optimize resources to amplify positive outcomes. While it requires a commitment of time and money, especially up front when the design of the system is driven by business goals and needs, the payoff can be huge – and long lasting.

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