IoT Asset Tracking: Enhancing Visibility in Operation

Discover how IoT asset tracking helps businesses manage their operations. Learn about the best practices for implementing this technology to enhance visibility in your organization.

What is IoT Asset Tracking?

IoT asset tracking is a system that integrates sensors, devices, and connectivity solutions to track the real-time location and condition of assets. It leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) framework, which consists of sensors, connectivity, data processing capabilities, and often cloud-based platforms. It allows businesses to track their assets, such as vehicles, equipment, inventory, and personnel.

How Does It Work?

IoT asset tracking captures data from sensors attached to assets and transmits it to a central location, where it is analyzed and stored. The data can then be accessed by authorized users through an interface or integrated into existing systems for further analysis.

Here’s a breakdown of its components:

Sensors and Devices

These are attached to or integrated within the assets. Depending on the asset’s nature and tracking requirements, they can measure various parameters, such as location, temperature, motion, and more. Examples of sensors and devices used in IoT asset tracking include:

  • GPS trackers placed on vehicles or containers
  • Temperature sensors attached to perishable goods
  • Accelerometers installed in machinery to monitor vibrations and detect potential breakdowns
  • Radio-frequency identification (RFID) for tracking inventory in warehouses

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Connectivity

IoT-based asset tracking systems rely on various connectivity solutions to transfer data from sensors and devices to the central location. Factors such as the asset’s location, environment, and tracking requirements influence the type of connectivity used. Some of the most commonly used options include:

  • Satellite and GPS tracking for remote locations
  • Cellular tracking, including 4G, 5G, and LTE, for more widespread coverage
  • LPWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Network) technologies like NB-IoT and LTE-M for low-cost, long-range connectivity
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which is commonly used for tracking assets within a confined area

Data Processing, Analysis, and Management

The collected data is sent to a central system where it’s processed and analyzed. This can be done on-premises or, more commonly, on a cloud platform. Here, the data is turned into actionable insights, such as alerts for preventive maintenance, location tracking, and more.

User Interface

An essential system component is a dashboard or an application where the end-user can access the data and insights captured by IoT asset tracking. Data, such as asset location, maintenance schedules, temperature readings, etc., can be viewed in real time and used to make informed decisions. This interface helps businesses enhance visibility and improve decision-making.

Applications

Asset tracking using IoT technology is used in many industries for a wide range of use cases. Here are the 5 most common examples of utilizing this solution:

Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Inventory management is a critical aspect of any supply chain. IoT asset tracking enables real-time inventory levels, location, and movement monitoring. This data can help businesses optimize stock levels, prevent stockouts, improve forecasting accuracy, and reduce manual inventory checks.

  • Retail: Retailers can track their inventory from the warehouse to the store shelves, enabling them to restock efficiently and avoid stockouts.
  • Manufacturing: With IoT-powered asset trackers, manufacturers can monitor the location and condition of raw materials, work-in-progress (WIP), and finished goods. This insight helps them streamline production processes and reduce waste.

Fleet Management

Fleet pertains to a mobile asset, e.g., vehicles or heavy equipment like in construction sites. IoT-enabled asset tracking allows fleet managers to monitor the location and performance of each vehicle, analyze data on fuel consumption and driver behavior, and even track maintenance schedules.

  • Route optimization: Fleet managers can use real-time location data and traffic information to optimize routes, saving time and fuel costs.
  • Driver behavior and safety: Asset tracking using IoT helps businesses monitor driver behavior, such as speeding or harsh braking, to improve safety and reduce accidents.

Predictive Maintenance

IoT-based asset tracking systems enable businesses to monitor equipment usage and performance, predicting maintenance needs. Industries such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and transportation can benefit from this application.

  • Manufacturing: When equipment breakdowns occur, it can lead to costly production downtime. IoT trackers can detect potential issues and alert operators for preventive maintenance.
  • Transportation: Airlines use this technology to monitor the condition of their engines and schedule maintenance before it affects flight schedules.
  • Agriculture: Farmers can use IoT asset trackers to monitor irrigation systems, detect potential issues, and prevent crop damage.
  • Energy Sector: Utility companies can use this solution to monitor power grids and identify potential failures or overloads before they occur.

Personnel Tracking

Businesses with employees working in remote or hazardous locations can use IoT asset tracking systems to monitor their safety and location. In emergencies, real-time location data can be used to send help quickly.

  • Construction: For example, workers working on a high-rise building can be equipped with sensors to track their location and detect falls or accidents.
  • Mining: Workers in mines can use wearable devices that track their location and send alerts in an emergency or incident.
  • Oil and Gas: In remote oil rigs, personnel tracking is crucial, as it enables quick response in case of an emergency and also aids in scheduling personnel rotations.

Condition Monitoring

Conditions such as temperature, humidity, vibration levels, etc., can impact the performance and longevity of assets.

  • Food Industry: Restaurants, warehouses, and grocery stores can use IoT asset tracking to monitor the temperature levels of perishable goods in storage.
  • Pharma Industry: Temperature-sensitive medications can be tracked during transportation and storage to ensure they remain within the required conditions.
  • HVAC Systems: Businesses can track the performance of their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to optimize energy usage and schedule maintenance before breakdowns.

Best Practices for Implementing IoT Asset Tracking

To achieve the best results, explore the following strategies for effectively deploying IoT asset tracking systems in your operations:

Choose the Right Technology

When selecting IoT asset tracking technology, organizations should consider accuracy, reliability, scalability, and cost-effectiveness factors. Choosing technology solutions that meet the organization’s specific requirements and use cases is essential.

Develop a Comprehensive Implementation Plan

Create a detailed plan for implementing the IoT asset tracking system, including tasks like training staff, testing the system, and establishing policies and procedures. An asset management template can guide organizations in developing a comprehensive plan.

Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Determine the metrics you will use to measure the success of the IoT asset tracking solution, such as average time between maintenance cycles or average response times. KPIs can help monitor the system’s effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.

Integrate Data Across Systems

Integrating IoT asset tracking data with other systems, such as maintenance management or inventory control, can provide a more comprehensive view of operations. This integration will enable automation and real-time decision-making.

Stay on top of your business assets in one place with solutions such as the SafetyCulture platform’s Assets feature. With Assets, you can unlock frontline-powered insights across your entire asset inventory, enhancing not just asset management but also overall operations.

Partner with Experienced Providers

Choose experienced providers who can offer end-to-end solutions and support throughout the implementation process. Look for providers with a proven track record of successfully implementing IoT solutions for safety and asset management. The right solution provider can make all the difference in effectively implementing and managing assets.

SafetyCulture Content Team
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SafetyCulture Content Team
The SafetyCulture content team is dedicated to providing high-quality, easy-to-understand information to help readers understand complex topics and improve workplace safety and quality. Our team of writers have extensive experience at producing articles for different fields such as safety, quality, health, and compliance.