Asset tracking refers to the combination of hardware and software that allows businesses to receive data about their tangible assets. The main goal is to track the assets’ locations and movements, but many systems also track assets’ engine hours, maintenance schedules, usage history or other applicable information.
Asset tracking differs from fleet management in that it is made to monitor portable high value equipment without engines, such as containers or portable toilets, as well as heavy machinery and specialist vehicles, such as for construction. Fleet management, by contrast, is made to monitor groups of regular cars, trucks and vans which cover long distances on a daily basis, such as delivery fleets. However, many asset tracking suppliers also offer fleet management, and vice versa.
Three types of hardware might be used to track each asset: A GPS tracker, an RFID tag, or a barcode label. Of these three, only the GPS-based system sends data in real-time, making it the most useful for a frequently moved asset. Industries with high-value moveable assets — construction, drilling, or shipping are a few examples — often require the most data, and use GPS trackers.
The primary benefits of a business keeping a real-time map of its assets are theft deterrence and employee monitoring. Knowing engine hours and usage also allows managers to prepare accurate billing reports, and to spot trends in historical data.