4 Tips for Implementing an Asset Tagging System
Businesses rely on their equipment and assets to offer both goods and services. It follows then, that keeping track of those assets is vital for organizations to operate and profit. That’s why so many businesses are implementing asset tagging systems. In fact, the market for fixed asset management software is expected to reach $5.2 billion in value by 2024.
But if you don’t have an asset tagging and tracking system, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this article, we’ll cover what asset tagging systems are, as well as some examples of how organizations use them. Then we’ll explain what resources you need to get started and some tips to help you succeed.
What is an asset tagging system?
Asset tagging is the practice of attaching asset tags or labels to your property. For our purposes, we’re talking about fixed assets, which are those that a business uses to create value for more than a year. For example, a landscaping business’s fixed assets might include lawn mowers, weed whackers, and trucks.
The asset tag is usually a small square or rectangular label that adheres to a hard surface, and it has some unique identifier, like a barcode, QR code, or RFID tag. The tag’s unique identifier is linked to some kind of record with information about the item. This ties the physical object to all the information that will help you get the most use out of it.
An asset tagging system includes the tools and practices that an organization uses to tag assets and keep their records up-to-date. It’s a sort of standard operating procedure for how your assets get tags and how those tags are used.
An asset tagging system enables asset tracking, which simply means using your tagging system to document where assets are and in what condition. The tagging enables the tracking. That’s why the term “asset tagging system” might be used interchangeably with “asset tracking system.”
Asset tracking helps businesses better maintain their property. By tagging and tracking assets, you prevent loss and theft, but you can also incorporate regular preventive maintenance for equipment that needs it. Reducing loss and theft and better maintaining your assets will ultimately save you money and time.
Asset tagging system examples
Here are some examples of how an asset tagging system helps businesses save time and money, as well as make better business decisions.
Tracking mobile assets between locations
Many businesses have assets that they only use occasionally, or resources that are shared by a number of users. In a small hospital, for example, there might be only one portable ultrasound machine. Nurses and doctors move the machine wherever it is needed. With so many patients, loved ones, and staff members coming and going (along with emergencies), it would be easy for the asset to be left in a room and forgotten… until someone needs it.
An asset tagging system can make it easy to keep track of where equipment like this is. For example, perhaps the procedure is for whoever is using the ultrasound machine to scan it in the room in which they use it. Then, whenever another person needs the machine, they can simply check the asset management system to see where it is. In very common situations like these, an asset tagging and tracking system could save tons of time and money.
Projecting future equipment costs
Planning and budgeting for the future is an important part of running a business. The trouble with business equipment and assets is that we often don’t think about the need to replace them until they stop working. Suddenly, your business has a significant expense for which you have no budget.
Careful asset tracking helps organizations predict and manage these expenses because they allow you to learn about the lifecycle of an asset. When you record maintenance schedules, repairs, and replacement of assets, you can use that data to estimate future costs. For instance, you might look at your asset tracking data and see that some tool or piece of equipment typically lasts five years. You can then look up the age of your current tool and estimate when you will need to buy a new one. When it comes time to create your budget, you’ll be prepared for that expense.
Managing remote work assets
With more and more people working remotely, it’s not uncommon for employees to take home thousands of dollars worth of equipment. And the larger a company grows, the more valuable assets they will have in different parts of the country or the world.
You can use asset tagging to keep track of who has which assets. When a new hire is issued a laptop or other assets, you can update the asset record with who has it and where they are. This is useful for evaluating requests for new equipment as well as recovering property when an employee leaves.
What you need for an asset tagging system
Let’s go over what resources and equipment you need for asset tagging.
1. Asset tags
These are the labels with which you mark the assets. They come in a wide variety of sizes and materials. As we mentioned, each tag has a unique identifier which can be a barcode, QR code, or RFID tag.
Barcodes are the simplest and least expensive solution. You can even print them at home. QR codes are slightly more complex, but they also store more information than barcodes. RFID tags, which use radio waves for tracking, are the most expensive, but they also allow you to scan many items at once.
2. Asset tag reader
Your asset tags are only useful if you have a way to scan them. The tag reader is the tool that connects the tags to your digital asset records. The asset tag scanner you choose will depend on what type of tags you use and how your business will use them.
Handheld barcode readers are relatively inexpensive, and so are QR code scanners. Smartphones can read QR codes and there are also apps that enable them to read barcodes. Like the associated tags, RFID readers are more expensive, but they also don’t require a direct line of sight and can scan large quantities quickly.
3. Asset management software
Your asset management software is what brings the whole system together. This is the database of records that makes an asset tagging system so valuable. Each time you scan a tag, the scanner or attached computer will pull up all the relevant information. It also allows you to create new asset tags and also to add and edit the information linked to tags.
Look for an asset tracking solution with analytics and reporting to help you better understand the lifecycle of your assets and how they are being used.
4 Tips for implementing an asset tagging system
Now that you know the basics and what you’ll need to get started, here are some tips to make implementing your system easier and help your team get started quickly.
1. Set standard operating procedures
Your team can’t follow the rules if you don’t explain what the rules are. That’s why it’s so important to set clear expectations for how to use your asset tagging system.
Set standards for:
- What assets need to be tagged
- Who is responsible for tagging new assets
- When should an employee scan an asset tag (e.g. when checking out a tool)
- When should employees update an asset record (e.g. after it has been damaged or repaired)
Once you have set your standard operating procedures, make sure they are documented and easily available to your team. With a little bit of forethought, you can avoid a lot of mistakes and confusion.
2. Train your employees
Documenting your asset tagging procedures is a good start, but it isn’t enough to ensure the success of your program. For an asset tagging system to be successful, you need the stakeholders at your company to understand it and believe in its value.
Like any new system, spending time up front training your team and answering questions will prevent headaches later on. Start by explaining why you’re using asset tagging and giving examples of the problems it will solve. Then you should walk employees through the process of tagging assets, scanning tags, and updating records. For those who will be using the asset tracking software, make sure they get hands-on training with the system.
3. Make compliance easy
Asset tagging and asset tracking is a marathon, not a sprint. Giving your team the tools and reminders they need is one of the most important steps to long-term adoption and compliance.
Along with initial training, it’s a good idea to add reminders in other parts of your process. For example, make sure tagging is documented as part of the intake process for new property.
You should also make sure employees have the tools they need. If you only have one scanner for a huge warehouse, asset tracking will take forever and your team is likely to get frustrated and give up on the system.
While not every employee will need access to your asset management software, make sure that enough people are trained in the system that someone calling in sick doesn’t bring your operations to a halt.
4. Perform regular asset audits
While much of asset tagging and tracking relies on everyday procedures, it’s also important to perform periodic asset audits to ensure your records are up to date. Many companies do this annually, but you can choose a cadence that makes sense for your business.
Like regular asset tagging, set clear expectations for what tasks need to be completed during an asset audit. These tasks might include:
- Confirming that all assets are tagged
- Ensuring all tags are easily scannable
- Updating each asset’s condition in its record
- Identifying assets in need of repair or replacement
When you have finished an asset audit, you should review your data and create a list of follow-up actions (new purchases, repairs, maintenance). An audit may also identify parts of your process that need work. For example, if you find that items aren’t being consistently scanned in one part of the business, you may need more equipment or training.
Frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some common questions people have about asset tagging systems.
How much does asset tagging cost?
The cost of an asset tagging system can vary wildly, depending on a company’s needs. Costs will include the asset labels, as well as tag scanners and asset tracking software. Software is typically the biggest expense, and it can range from $20 per month to thousands per month. Many asset management solutions charge by the number of users.
Which assets should be tagged?
Each business chooses which assets are worth tracking, but most track fixed assets (those pieces or property that a business uses to create value for more than a year). For a corporate office, those assets might include computers, printers, and office furniture. A construction business might track vehicles, large machinery, and portable tools. Simply put, if an item allows you to do business, it could be worth tagging and tracking.
What is an asset register?
An asset register is an inventory of all your business’s physical assets. Much like when you perform an inventory of your products, you can take stock of the equipment and tools that allow your business to function. In the past, an asset register might just be a spreadsheet with a list of objects, but modern asset management software can make them much more detailed and dynamic.
How do you conduct an asset register?
To perform an asset register from scratch, you need to document each physical asset that belongs to your business. While most organizations know to record what each piece of equipment is, asset registers are more helpful when they also include details like purchase value, current value, and the condition of the asset. If you use asset management software, it can compile an asset register from your individual asset records.
Get started with your asset tagging system
An asset tagging system is a reliable way to avoid loss and theft and, ultimately, extract more value from the tools and equipment your business invests in. Getting started with any new technology can be intimidating, but asset tagging and tracking don’t require a ton of specialized knowledge (especially if you choose a user-friendly solution like RedBeam)
With a thorough understanding of how asset tagging systems work, you’re now better prepared to implement one and reap all the benefits.
To see how RedBeam makes it easy to tag and track all your fixed assets, schedule a demo.