What is Asset Tracking?
If you are trying to manage your assets and inventory without utilizing tags or labels, you are already behind the competition.
Asset tracking and management using metal tags and labels is a surefire way to keep your organization running to the best of its abilities.
Why Should I Use Asset Tracking?
Inventory tracking is an important task for all organizations. You need to know where your inventory is supposed to be, where it is, and how it’s being used and maintained (plus everything in between).
By using physical asset tracking methods like barcode tagging, you have access to a ton of information. For example, how frequently something is used, location, remaining useful life, how well it’s being utilized, etc. This information is perfect for inventory management, as well as during internal or external audits.
Asset tracking will significantly cut down the amount of time employees have to spend manually tracking, as well as free up additional resources. On top of that, it will prevent misinformation, missed deadlines, delays, and worst of all, unhappy customers.
Utilizing asset tags can also save you from the potential of theft. Whether it is expensive machinery, tools, or product inventory, things sometimes tend to “disappear” (especially when they are highly valuable assets).
Since they will know resources are being tracked, would-be thieves will think twice before making off with any items. If theft does occur, you’ll have all the information you need to figure out what happened. There are even specialized tamper resistant decals that leave evidence if someone tries to remove them.
By protecting and deterring theft, your business will be able to save from losses and root out problems if they do occur.
What Do I Need for Asset Tracking?
I want to start asset tracking, but what do I need? The very basic requirements for a bar code tracking system includes: computer software, scanning tools, and barcode tags.
Asset Tracking Software
In order to set up the asset management system, you’ll need computer software that will manage everything, read/write information that is scanned, and create a record. There are many options for software for the industry and size of your organization.
Along with the software, you’ll need to get at least one scanning tool to log and scan tags. However, if you have a large operation with many departments you may need multiple scanners.
Last but not least, you need the barcode tags themselves. These can be made with either metal or plastic, depending on the environment and conditions they need to be used in. The most popular choices for barcodes are QR codes or UPC style barcodes. These make data collection a breeze.
Outside of traditional barcode tags, there are other higher-tech tracking options. For example: NFC, RFID tags, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even GPS tracking. Mobile computers can even provide data on-the-go. These tracking technology options might be necessary for some organizations who need real time information. However, they come at a much steeper cost, making them unnecessary for most.
As blockchain technology advances, barcode tags will become even more crucial.
What Types of Tags are Used for Asset Tracking?
There are a variety of tags that are used for asset tracking. If you are looking to implement a code tracking system, barcode tags are a must. If you are looking for a simpler solution, there is also the option for basic metal tags.
Barcode tags typically come in one of several types: MetalPhoto, Screen Printed, Paper, and Decals/Labels.
A great all-around solution for barcode tags is photo anodization (MetalPhoto). It uses a special process to embed a design underneath a layer of protection in aluminum. This means incredible durability and no fade or wear of the design. The process is rated for 20+ years of use outdoors. Plus it is able to handle any custom image or design, including any type of barcode (including QR and UPC codes).
Another solution for metal bar code tags is screen printing. This process prints using ink on top of the metal material. This is great for customization and can even include full color, however the durability takes a major hit. The ink will fade and wear if exposed to a rough environment.
On top of that, variable barcodes come at a high cost for screen printing, as a screen is created for each design. For applications that only require one unique barcode repeated, screen printing is a more viable option.
What if metal tags don’t work for my usage? Then decals might be a perfect solution. They are printed on vinyl, poly, Lexan, or other plastic and can feature full color designs including bar codes. The best part is that they have a super easy application: just peel and stick.
However, they are printed on materials, and will wear off and fade just like screen printing. Decals are a great option if your assets are in a safe indoor environment and not exposed to wear and tear.
Serialized Asset Tags
If you have a small operation, barcodes don’t fit your industry, or you want a low-tech solution for your asset tracking, metal asset tags are a great solution as well.
A custom solution for your specific needs can be made. Typically the best solution is a serialized embossed tag, made with either stainless steel or aluminum. Anodized aluminum can be colored to match your company color scheme or color code certain types of assets. These allow you to keep track of assets by number, as well as provide information such as company contact info.
Asset tracking is one of the best investments you will make for your business or organization. If you are not asset tracking you are throwing money away. For example: lost assets, errors, theft, etc.
Barcode tags and software create a fantastic system keeping you informed. Staying up-to-date on all your resources is so important. Serialized asset tags can provide a cost-effective and simple way to keep track of your important items as well as save time. Whatever your industry, whatever your business, there is an asset tracking solution for you.