How do you handle asset tracking?

Maybe a better question would be: Are you tracking your assets at all? For the great majority of facility owners and managers, the answer will undoubtedly be yes. To some degree. But tracking an asset means more than just knowing where to find it when you need it.

Real asset tracking means being able to recall all the significant events in the life of that asset from the time it’s put in service until the time it’s taken out. It’s like getting ahold of an asset’s personal journal. Real asset tracking means knowing every visit a truck’s made to a garage and every coat of paint that’s been applied to a chemical storage tank. All that data hasn’t necessarily been easy to keep track of in the past. The tools simply didn’t exist. Paperwork tended to get lost in the shuffle or not filled out at all. Sometimes it didn’t survive the journey from the field to the office. Sometimes it didn’t survive corporate’s move to a new office.

That began to change when portable, powerful tablet computing devices arrived on the job-site. Computers became commonplace in the field, but for a long time the software still did not exist to record things like invoice numbers, work orders, approval signatures, associated photos and comments. Now it’s possible to keep records of all these details and more for every asset in your operation, including the device you’re using to track it all.

So now the question isn’t whether or not your tracking your assets, but are you tracking them as closely as you could be?

Why asset tracking?

For a long time, deficiencies in existing methods for managing assets were crying out for solutions. The more closely companies were able to follow expenditures of time and materials on certain assets, the more opportunities for cutting cost emerged. Keeping track of work and purchase orders helps companies hold subcontractors responsible and prevents overbuying. Knowing exact quantities of time and materials spent on an asset helps owners to make informed decisions on returns on investment and decide when upgrading makes good financial sense. Applying the correct protective coating the first time prevents money from being wasted on the wrong materials and unnecessary labor expenditures. The list of potential cost savings from more diligent asset-related record keeping is expansive.

Of course, making sure an asset doesn’t deteriorate to the point of failure is the ultimate in keeping costs under control. Beyond the price of needing to replace an asset completely, productivity will undoubtedly suffer. If it does happen, though, you need to demonstrate that you’ve done your due diligence. Being able to demonstrate regular maintenance on structural steel and piping can determine who is found liable in the event of an incident. If corrosion under insulation causes piping to burst in a processing facility, for instance, facility managers will want to be able to demonstrate that they believed adequate corrosion protection measures were taken before the failure, and that the fault may instead lie with the application of the protective coating.

That’s what total asset tracking is all about.

How asset tracking happens

What does asset tracking look like when done correctly? Diligent record keeping means little details aren’t lost in the shuffle. At it’s very basic, asset tracking should answer the questions of what was done, how much was used, how much it cost, and how often it needs to be done moving forward. Good asset tracking will paint a broader picture, and account for time and materials, photos, approval signatures and purchase orders related to the asset.

Tablet computing makes this level of tracking not only possible but also relatively simple from a data-input perspective. Given the right tools. But even after the rise of portable computing devices, the right tools were slow to come along. That’s why, in conjunction with Carboline, we decided to design the most thorough asset tracking tool available. TAM (Total Asset Management) keeps track of every person, project and asset associated within your organization. For a better idea of what TAM looks like in action, check out this post on what exactly TAM is. And to see TAM in action for yourself, click here to schedule a live demo.

What story are your assets telling?