How to improve the monitoring and visibility of assets

by FM Media
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Intermec’s TONY REPACI explains why asset tracking is vital and provides a guide for facilities managers on how to improve the monitoring and visibility of assets.

In the current period of economic uncertainty, Australian businesses are looking for new ways to protect existing revenue streams and limit losses. Ensuring that assets within facilities are getting a healthy return on investment from available equipment stems from the ability of facilities managers to maximise facility efficiency and minimise wastage.
Implementing an effective asset tracking system assists facilities managers looking to improve asset utilisation by increasing asset visibility. By accurately locating and redeploying existing equipment, facilities managers eliminate the unnecessary purchase of new equipment, reduce labour costs and improve returns on investment.
For a facility to operate efficiently, staff must be able to locate and access all available equipment when the need arises. By having improved visibility over all of the assets within a business, facilities managers are able to rapidly identify replacement assets to limit staff downtime and audit/rationalise equipment that is not being used.

ASSET TRACKING IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR
The application of asset tracking processes to improve the monitoring and visibility of high value assets is of particular importance for facilities managers working in the healthcare sector. It is vital that critical medical supplies and equipment are always fully accounted for and available for use.
Incidences of key equipment going missing within healthcare environments in the US led to a report on www.dotmed.com, which stated: “As far as mobile equipment goes, experts say that approximately 30 percent of hospitals’ mobile assets are not available at any given time, because they are hoarded by staff members, or stored away without any record of the location – or simply forgotten.
“Hospital staff – especially in larger facilities – waste a lot of time searching for equipment and often found themselves buying extra simply because they could not find something.”
To maximise equipment utilisation, hospitals, clinics and aged care facilities need to be able to find and rapidly deploy key assets to maintain top quality care. As a result, the deployment of asset tracking technology is becoming increasingly vital to improve the monitoring and visibility of high value assets.

USING BARCODE TECHNOLOGY
Using barcode technology, facilities managers can minimise time monitoring the location and status of assets within one venue or across multiple sites. The value of the barcode lies in its accuracy and efficiency. It is a robust, reliable technology and can yield high returns on investment.
Coupling barcode technology with leading asset tracking systems can enable organisations to accurately identify fixed and portable assets – from IT equipment used by staff to company owned vehicles. Asset information is recorded via a hand-held barcode reader, which has a pre-programmed system enabling the user to collate data efficiently and accurately.
Proven asset tracking systems enable facilities managers to replace assets that are damaged or faulty as soon as a problem arises. In the hotel sector, for example, if a guest requests that a television set is replaced in their room due to it being faulty, they should expect a timely response about the availability of a replacement set. In the case that there is no replacement equipment available for use, customers will appreciate honest and timely feedback on their situation.

ADVANCES IN RFID TECHNOLOGY
While traditional equipment, such as barcodes and barcode readers are still often relied upon for asset tracking purposes, recent advances in radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology offer facilities managers unique and, in many cases, more advanced benefits.
RFID technology can offer benefits to asset tracking systems, as the technology can be faster and more accurate than barcode readers. RFID can also be read in high traffic environments, where barcode labels are difficult to read, or in harsh environments where tags must be made of materials that cannot accept a barcode.
The decision to employ asset tracking solutions focuses on acquiring accurate data to deliver more accurate and timely information, which in turn allows businesses to make better business decisions to deliver a return on investment. Australian facilities managers should ask whether or not they can afford not to know exactly where their key assets are at any given time.

Tony Repaci is Intermec’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand.

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