Real-Time Asset Tracking | Key Features, Platforms, Costs and Benefits

Real-Time Asset Tracking - ScienceSoft

In software development since 1989, ScienceSoft provides asset management consulting services to help companies implement and optimize real-time asset tracking solutions.

Real-time asset tracking: the essence

Real-time asset tracking allows asset-intensive companies (e.g., from manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, oil & gas, etc.) to instantly locate physical assets both indoors and outdoors, monitor their condition and usage, and optimize asset allocation. Real-time asset tracking systems integrate with ERP, MES, enterprise asset management, etc. to help companies achieve full asset flow transparency, maximize asset utilization, and increase ROA.

Real-time asset tracking system architecture

A system for tracking assets in real time consists of three layers:

  • Physical layer – assets with barcodes or tags (RFID tags, GPS chips, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tags, Ultra-Wideband (UWB) tags, etc.) and readers (barcode scanners, RFID readers, smartphones, etc.) to track them.

Note: The choice of the tracking technology is based on asset mobility, required location accuracy, and tracking frequency. For example, real-time location systems (RTLS) based on UWB are commonly used for locating assets indoors with a high level of precision, while GPS systems are widely used for outdoor tracking.

  • Platform layer includes:
    • Data aggregation – asset data sourcing, quality management, transformation, etc.
    • Asset data storage – both structured (geolocation, stock information, etc.) and unstructured (text files, images, etc.) asset data.
    • Data analytics and visualization – aggregated asset data is presented to users in the form of reports and real-time dashboards (asset location and condition, asset utilization rates, asset maintenance history, etc.).
  • Gateway layer – routing asset data from the physical to the platform layer.

A sample architecture of a real-time asset tracking solution - ScienceSoft

Benefits of a real-time tracking system for assets

  • Optimized asset allocation, scheduling and utilization due to real-time monitoring of asset location, condition, usage, etc.
  • Eliminated asset shortage/excess due to accurate monitoring of asset stock level and asset demand forecasting based on asset utilization patterns analysis.
  • Maximized asset efficiency with controlled asset storage/transportation conditions, like temperature, humidity, CO2 concentration, etc.
  • Minimized asset theft, asset misusage/loss/misplacement with asset geofencing.

Real-time asset tracking solution functionality

Asset data storage

  • Storing 360-degree asset data (asset serial number/barcode and type, pictures, manufacturer, model, date of purchase, location, etc.) in an asset profile.
  • Asset data storage in hierarchical asset structures.
  • Accessing asset data via PC, tablet, smartphone.
  • Searching for asset data by asset serial number/barcode, photo, name and type, location for maintenance/replacement and reserving purposes.
  • Role-based asset data access for all authorized parties (maintenance teams, asset optimization managers, etc.).

Real-time asset tracking

  • Tracking of:
    • Fixed assets (plant machinery, tools, equipment, etc.).
    • Linear assets (pipelines, power lines, drainage systems, etc.).
    • Fleet assets (cars, trucks, shipping containers, etc.).
  • Instant location of assets by serial number/barcode, type, proximity, availability, etc.
  • Asset location and movement tracking (both indoors and outdoors) with interactive maps and geofencing.
  • Tracking asset warranty dates and maintenance schedule.

Real-time asset monitoring

  • Sensor-based monitoring of the condition (temperature, vibration, etc.) of assets been in use, stored or transported.
  • Sensor-based environment monitoring (temperature, humidity, air pressure) of operating/transported/stored assets.
  • Monitoring of asset stock levels (spare parts, pipelines, service equipment, etc.).
  • Asset utilization and availability monitoring.
  • Alerts on approaching scheduled maintenance/calibration dates.

Asset tracking analytics and reporting

  • Asset utilization data analysis for:
    • Spotting asset misuse, under-/over-usage, etc.
    • Optimization of asset scheduling/reservation.
  • Asset performance data analysis to reveal overdue maintenance, need for repair, calibration, etc.
  • Asset utilization history and asset condition data analysis to trigger repairing/replacement activities.
  • Asset environment and asset condition data analysis for optimizing asset operating, storage and transportation conditions.
  • Pre-built scheduled/ad hoc reports and dashboards (assets by date of procurement, type, asset location history, asset utilization over time, high-demand assets, etc.).
  • Custom scheduled/ad hoc reports and dashboards (asset location and condition, space utilization, tag battery status, etc.).

Get an Efficient Real-Time Asset Tracking Solution

ScienceSoft is ready to design and implement a robust solution for tracking your company’s assets in real time to help you gain complete visibility into their location and optimize asset usage.

Real-time asset tracking systems: valuable integrations

To get maximum value from an asset tracking solution, the following integrations are worth considering:

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system

By loading 360-degree asset data from real-time asset tracking software into ERP, a company ensures its Operations and Finance departments achieve full visibility into current asset utilization and performance, asset repairing/replacement needs, asset procurement needs, etc.

Accounting software

Automated loading of real-time data on asset utilization and status from tracking software into accounting software to define the current cost of an asset for asset depreciation.

Enterprise asset management (EAM) system

Automated transfer of the current information on the asset performance and utilization from the asset tracking solution to the EAM system to help define optimal asset usage and maintenance scenarios, plan asset replacement/procurement, optimize the asset management strategy.

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)

By loading comprehensive data on asset location, condition and maintenance needs from the real-time tracking system to CMMS, companies can promptly and accurately schedule service activities.

Real-time asset tracking system valuable integrations - ScienceSoft

How to ensure the success of a real-time asset tracking system

Real-time reporting and alerting capabilities

Asset managers, maintenance teams, production managers etc. can get a convenient view of real-time asset data and receive notifications of potential negative events (asset stock-outs, asset misplacement, asset unavailability, etc.)

Ensure flexible integration capabilities

Well-documented APIs allow for seamless integration with multiple types of software (EAM, ERP, MES, etc.).

Focus on system security

Tracking assets in real time, especially in such highly regulated industries as healthcare (e.g., hospital asset tracking), requires that data on asset location and condition is safely stored and transmitted. For that, end-to-end data encryption, as well as access control, user authentication, and other security measures should be taken.

User-friendly interface

To allow employees (asset optimization managers, maintenance teams, production managers, etc.) to quickly and conveniently access real-time asset data from anywhere and anytime.

How to estimate asset tracking software implementation

The cost of implementing real-time asset tracking software varies greatly depending on the number and type of assets being tracked (which influences the choice of the tracking technology/solution type), required integrations, solution capabilities, etc. As a result, any accurate estimation is only possible after a thorough business analysis.

Major financial outcomes

Maximized ROA due to increased asset availability and utilization, reduced asset loss and theft.

Reduced asset maintenance costs and unplanned downtime due to the timely detection of abnormal asset functionality and possible asset failure.

Cost savings connected with the asset tracking automation (elimination of wrong data entries, timely location of critical assets, etc.).

Eliminated tax overpaying due to accurate tracking of asset depreciation.

Real-time asset tracking software to consider

ScienceSoft lists leading software products (recognized by Gartner, IDC, etc.), which offer robust functionality for real-time asset tracking. Vendors of these products don’t provide hardware (tags, sensors, etc.) as a part of their asset tracking offering, but they offer a list of compatible hardware and hardware vendors they partner with.

Dynamics 365 Asset Management

ScienceSoft recommends

Software category

ERP software.

Description

Asset Management is an advanced module in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management for tracking and managing assets in real time. The product has been positioned in the Major Players category in the IDC MarketScape for SaaS and cloud-enabled asset-intensive EAM applications for 2020-2021.

  • Locating various types of assets (machines, production equipment, and vehicles) in real time.
  • Monitoring asset condition, alerting based on pre-defined rules.
  • Keeping track of maintenance activities and their costs.
  • Tracking asset maintenance status.
  • Storing asset data in hierarchical structures.
  • Pre-defined reports on asset location, number, uptime, downtime, repairs, mean time between failures/stops, etc.
  • User-friendly interface.
  • A mobile version is available.
  • Cloud and on-premises deployment.

Pricing

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management – $180/user/month (for up to 100 assets per tenant).

IBM Maximo

Software category

EAM software

Description

A recognized leader of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for enterprise asset management and asset performance management solutions.

  • Asset location and condition tracking with barcoding/RFID/sensors.
  • AI-powered detection of asset anomalies/malfunctions, alerting based on pre-defined rules.
  • 150 pre-built reports (asset availability and reliability, asset uptime, asset history, asset failure analysis, asset cost analysis and vendor analysis, etc.).
  • Custom reporting and dashboarding capabilities.
  • A mobile version is available.
  • Cloud, on-premises and hybrid deployment.
  • Integration with the SAP/Oracle ERP systems via the ERP adapter.

Pricing

Pricing depends on the number of users and the deployment option. Prices are available by direct request to IBM.

SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)

Software category

EAM software.

Description

A leader of the IDC MarkerScape Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Asset-Intensive EAM Applications Vendor Assessment.

  • Real-time asset location and asset utilization tracking with interactive visualization, location maps, etc.
  • Centralized asset data storage with 360-degree asset data.
  • Asset condition monitoring, asset alerting based on pre-defined rules.
  • Built-in BI module for pre-built/custom report generation (asset location, asset status, asset work orders, etc.).
  • A mobile version is available.
  • Cloud-based deployment.
  • Integration with SAP S/4HANA for seamless asset data exchange across the company.

Pricing

Prices are available by direct request to SAP.

UpKeep

Software category

CMMS.

Description

UpKeep CMMS is a modern cloud-hosted maintenance and asset management solution for small to midsize companies across various industries.

  • GPS- and RFID-based real-time asset location.
  • Asset condition monitoring, asset alerting based on pre-defined rules.
  • Tracking asset depreciation and asset repair costs.
  • Pre-built (asset downtime, asset usage, asset costs, work order history, work orders costs, etc.) and custom reports.
  • Intuitive user interface.
  • A mobile version is available.

Pricing

  • Community – free
  • Starter - $35/user/month
  • Professional - $60/user/month
  • Business Plus - $100/user/month.

When custom real-time asset tracking software is a viable option

ScienceSoft recommends developing a custom real-time asset tracking solution in case:

  • You have to track specific asset types or require advanced asset tracking functionality (e.g., highly customizable reporting alerting capabilities, etc.), which cannot be covered within the scope of off-the-shelf products.
  • The scope of your asset tracking solution consistently grows, thus you need to quickly add new features, which may be impossible without changes in the application code in a ready product.
  • Pricing of many packaged solutions depends on the number of assets tracked/users, thus developing a custom real-time asset tracking solution may be more cost-effective.

Implementation of real-time asset tracking

In software development since 1989, ScienceSoft helps companies implement effective real-time asset tracking solutions to streamline their asset tracking process and increase ROA.

Real-time asset tracking software consulting

  • Asset tracking needs analysis.
  • Assessment of the existing asset tracking infrastructure (if any).
  • Real-time asset tracking solution conceptualization.
  • (for platform-based solutions) Choosing a fitting real-time asset tracking platform and laying out the customization scope.
  • (for custom solutions) Outlining the optimal real-time asset tracking solution architecture and tech stack.
  • Real-time asset tracking solution implementation planning (risk management planning, defining KPIs for measuring real-time tracking software ROI, etc.).
  • Business case creation including cost estimation.

Real-time asset tracking software implementation

  • Asset tracking needs analysis.
  • Real-time asset tracking solution conceptualization.
  • (for custom solutions) Real-time asset tracking software architecture design.
  • Real-time asset tracking software development/customization.
  • Real-time asset tracking software integration into the existing infrastructure (ERP, EAM, EHS, etc.).
  • Real-time asset tracking software quality assurance.
  • After-launch support and optimization.

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is an IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, TX. We advise on and implement real-time asset tracking solutions for our clients to make asset flows transparent and maximize asset utilization throughout the whole life cycle while reducing operational costs. To learn more about our offer, check our asset management consulting page.