How to Use Asset Scanning for Asset Inventory Management
Businesses of all sizes struggle with staying organized and managing their assets. As a business owner or employee, have you ever lost something valuable that you needed and couldn't find it? Have you tried to manage your assets manually and also keep up with them in a spreadsheet, only to find that it turned into a mess?
Many businesses conduct asset inventories on a frequent basis (typically, yearly). This could be simply for tracking purposes or for preparing for audits. Regardless of the reason, it's necessary to manage assets effectively to make the most of the time spent on them. Running an inventory is time-intensive and sometimes tedious. To prevent your business from working around nightmares like missing equipment and misplaced documentation, we've outlined how proper asset management can streamline your next asset inventory.
What is asset tracking? Why is it important?
If you have physical assets that you need to keep track of to keep your business afloat, asset tracking and management can help. Easily manage the performance of the physical aspects of your business, while also identifying weak spots.
About 55% of businesses don't track their assets at all; this raises the risk of errors, theft, and loss, and also decreases efficiency.
For a simple example of how a lack of tracking can cost a business, let's say that an employee named Steve takes another job and leaves your company. He might forget (or not bother) to return his laptop or other equipment. Because the business hasn't tagged and tracked their assets, they don't notice the missing laptop until months later. Without documentation, they don't know who was using the missing asset. Even if they have very little turnover and think Steve has it, they can't prove it.
It could happen to you, too - your asset inventory could take a direct hit. This is why you need to also keep up with your inventory management through asset tracking systems and software designed specifically for that purpose.
What is asset scanning?
Asset scanning is an easy and efficient way to track and manage your assets. In the past, asset management and asset inventories were often performed manually. This meant writing down or typing in serial numbers and other information, which was incredibly time-consuming and prone to human error.
Scanning refers to using a digital reader to quickly identify assets based on their asset tags. These tags might be as simple as a barcode sticker but can also be more sophisticated. Like barcodes, QR codes are affordable to buy or print yourself. On the other hand, RFID tags use radio frequencies to read tags. This allows you to scan assets more quickly, although RFID tags and readers are more expensive.
Asset scanning has allowed businesses to go from manual data entry to identifying and tracking an asset by simply pointing to a reader. Depending on how you configure your asset management software, simply scanning an asset label can create an automatic time stamp documenting when and where the property was scanned.
What are the benefits of asset tracking?
While this article focuses on how asset tracking can improve your inventory management, it's important to recognize all the benefits of asset tracking. For your business to truly thrive, consider investing in your assets and keeping track of them.
Asset tracking has real financial benefits. For fixed assets (property used by the business for more than one year), tracking the value of your assets allows you to track depreciation. Depreciation measures how much the value of an asset decreases over time. For instance, a piece of machinery you purchased for $3,000 might only be worth $2,500 a year later. When you keep accurate depreciation records in your asset management system, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct that lost value from your taxes.
Asset tracking is also important for insurance purposes. If there is a fire or other disaster, you’ll want to know what can and should be replaced. Asset scanning and tracking prove you had valuable assets for which you seek compensation.
Finally, asset tracking helps you stay on top of repairs and maintenance, ultimately allowing you to get more value out of your purchases. Like cars, many business assets will function longer and more efficiently with preventative maintenance.
Asset tracking provides a higher return on your investments, and it increases efficiency by ensuring that time is not wasted trying to locate or replace lost assets. This will also help you keep your business functioning as it should, streamlining your processes and coming up with better ways to save time.
Asset tracking technology is growing rapidly, and this growth creates opportunities for businesses to increase their efficiency by using such software. In fact, the asset-tracking software market is forecast to reach $55.1B in 2026. For this reason, investing in and tracking your assets has never been more vital, you'll soon see the trickle-down effect on the rest of your business.
What is asset inventory management?
Though the terms inventory management and asset tracking refer to monitoring items necessary to conduct business, they differ in significant ways.
Inventory management focuses on the parts and products your company has moving in and out of its warehouses, stores, or other facilities. Inventory management is usually a continuous process using inventory management software (which is separate from asset management software). The business tracks what products they have and what has been sold.
Asset tracking focuses on keeping track of things like tools and equipment that your business needs to function correctly. Asset tracking is also an ongoing process. Some businesses may even have asset managers on staff.
Asset inventory management refers to managing the inventory of a company's internal assets like equipment and supplies. An asset tracking system will make it easier to control a company's supply of internal tools, equipment, and other assets. Most of the time, the word “inventory” refers to products and materials that move in and out of your business. But when referring to asset inventories, we’re talking about having an accurate inventory of the fixed assets your business has used for over a year.
For example, a bakery may perform a daily inventory of products or ingredients. Asset inventories (refrigerators, ovens, and commercial cookware) would be less frequent.
To maintain an accurate asset inventory, it is essential to use these systems and software that can track assets as you and your company use them. It's too overwhelming and inaccurate to keep up with asset inventory manually, and at the same time it's more imperative than ever for companies to know the assets they have, in what condition they're in, and where.
What should be included in asset inventory
Each asset your business owns (that has an associated value) must be reported on. These are going to be the assets that are helping your business generate income, but aren't being sold. As we mentioned above, fixed assets are properties that the business uses to create value and uses for more than one year. This includes IT equipment, office furniture and supplies, and tools. An asset inventory gives you a comprehensive record of the property and equipment that your employees use to do their jobs.
When completing asset inventory, it's essential to report on the following:
- Location of the asset
- Condition and/or value of the asset
- Maintenance history of the asset
- Insurance policy or warranty of the asset
- Check-in/Check-out dates of the asset
It's important for your business to have these records so you can ensure your business and your assets are meeting regulatory compliance and insurance policies. Additionally, asset inventory management can grant more visibility into the monitoring and maintenance of assets. With greater transparency into asset inventory, organizations can avoid things like ghost assets or theft.
How to use asset scanning for tracking and inventory
An effective asset tracking and asset inventory system begins with marking your assets with scannable tags. You can use asset barcodes, QR codes, or RFID tags, depending on how much data you need to store and how many assets you need to scan.
Keep in mind that barcodes and QR codes can only be scanned with a direct line of sight, so they should be placed somewhere easy to find and reach. RFID tags don’t require a line of sight but are more expensive.
Next, you’ll link these asset tags to records in your asset management software. As mentioned above, you should track things like model, date of purchase, and condition.
With your assets tagged and linked to their records, you then need to create a system of standards for when assets are scanned. This can be time-based (monthly, quarterly, etc.) or event-based (when removed from a location, when used, etc.). It’s also a good idea to specify which team member is responsible for asset scanning.
Take the time to train your team and make sure they have access to all the tools they need (tags, scanners, software, etc.). The goal is to make asset scanning and asset inventory management part of your daily operations, not something you ignore until your annual asset inventory.
Asset scanning and asset management software
The main goal of asset management is to optimize business operations and reduce risks. Without a proper asset management process in place, businesses risk suffering negative financial and operational consequences. That's why it's crucial to have an effective asset tracking system in place to ensure that proper asset management is achieved.
Using spreadsheets to manage assets is time-consuming and susceptible to errors, there is also the possibility of missing an item. Spreadsheets and documents can easily get lost too, and if you don't have any backups, trouble will arise. A comprehensive asset management system is the only way to ensure that won't happen.
Modern asset management software allows businesses to keep accurate and up-to-date asset records. RedBeam, for example, works with a wide range of different asset tags and barcode scanners (including mobile devices) to make it easy to identify your property and get the most out of it.
Using asset tracking software, you can store important data about asset age, condition, and location in one central database. RedBeam users can even create custom fields to ensure asset records have the information that matters to them. And each time you scan an asset, it’s recorded in RedBeam, giving you a comprehensive and chronological history of each asset.
Effective asset management starts with asset tracking software
Proper asset management is the surest way to keep your business organized and flourishing. With asset tracking software, your business can eliminate disorganization and remain as efficient as possible.
Here at RedBeam, we help you take care of your assets, so you can better focus on the value they generate. In a world where every second counts, you need to know that your business assets are safe.
Want to see RedBeam in action? Schedule a free demo to see how we can transform your business.