Since manufacturers are heavily reliant on equipment and other assets, acquiring and utilizing a robust equipment tracking solution has become a significant part of operations. The quest for streamlined operations, enhanced productivity, and optimized resource utilization has led companies to seek tracking software that efficiently monitors, manages, and tracks their valuable assets. But the process of selecting the right equipment tracking solution is not a simple checkbox exercise; it demands meticulous evaluation of several critical factors to ensure that the chosen system aligns seamlessly with the needs and goals of a given business. An equipment tracking solution serves as a strategic tool to navigate common manufacturing challenges, providing real-time visibility, efficient monitoring, and data-driven insights into the lifecycle of valuable equipment. Understanding the diverse needs of different companies is of the utmost importance of a tailored tracking solution. This blog aims to serve as a comprehensive guide, empowering businesses to make informed choices that align with their unique operational needs to foster efficiency and drive success in equipment management strategies.


 

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1. Purpose of System

Plant managers shoulder the responsibility of overseeing the efficient functioning of production facilities and optimizing plant operations. Equipment tracking can play a direct role in these goals, with systems offering a multitude of benefits that directly address the challenges encountered in plant management. It’s important to consider what purpose an equipment tracking solution might serve within your operations. These systems were designed to help companies gain visibility of their equipment. Such visibility enables managers to monitor utilization rates, track maintenance schedules, and promptly identify bottlenecks or operational inefficiencies. By having a comprehensive view of asset performance metrics, including uptime, downtime, and maintenance history, plant managers can also implement predictive maintenance strategies, minimizing unplanned downtime and maximizing equipment reliability. Understanding why you are investing in a system helps you as you do research for equipment tracking solutions, allowing you to identify a system that can address your use case and meet your needs. This brings us to the next point. 

2. Requirements of System

Every company has different needs, but not every system will necessarily be designed to meet every need you have. At a basic level, you need visibility of your asset's location, but it’s important to dig deeper. What level of visibility do you need? How accurate do you need the data to be? Do you require the solution to have any additional sensors? How long do you need the battery to last? These questions and more are the ones you need to consider before you invest in an equipment tracking system. If you know what you need in a solution, then you can use that to guide your search for an equipment tracker. When you consider what’s important, you won’t waste money on unnecessary features and you won’t spend money on a solution that doesn’t function the way you need it to. Determining what you require in a solution is the best way to ensure you get a return on your investment. 

3. Technology

Different solution providers use different technology to try to accomplish the same goal. A common technology used for equipment tracking is passive RFID. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term “passive RFID,” you’re likely familiar with how this technology is used, mainly through barcode scanning. Barcode scanners were the first form of automation for equipment tracking in manufacturing plants. Before barcode scanners, companies used manual input to keep track of their equipment and other asset information. Barcode scanners were the first step toward a more automated process. Scanning items to log them saves companies a lot of time, but automation has come a long way since barcode scanning was introduced. It’s worth considering whether or not you can save more time with innovations that have improved upon passive RFID methodologies. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), for example, allows manufacturers to track their equipment without any effort. The tags attached to each piece of equipment continually log location information at all times instead of requiring manual scans. Barcode scanners, after all, still run the risk of human error since you have to manually scan each piece of equipment. If you’re looking to eliminate error altogether, consider a technology that does everything you need it to without your intervention.

4. Ease of Integration

Equipment tracking software that easily integrates with existing operations makes investing in this type of solution easy. When an equipment tracking system can integrate seamlessly with existing systems, software, and workflows within an organization, less disruptions are caused by the implementation of and adaptation to a new system. An easily integrable asset tracking system not only accelerates the implementation process but also fosters efficient data sharing and consistency across all operations, enabling companies to harness the full potential of their tracking solution while maximizing productivity. Compatibility and interoperability are key factors to evaluate as they determine how well the tracking system aligns with the current infrastructure.

5. Cost and ROI

The cost of investing in an equipment tracker can be initially high. But if the solution allows you to save more money than you spent on the solution, in the long run, you actually make money from your implementation. Depending on the cost of each system you evaluate, you may take longer to turn a profit, but it is very much possible depending on your use case and the problems you’re trying to solve. A thorough cost analysis should consider the benefits the tracking system brings, such as increased operational efficiency, reduced downtime, improved asset utilization, and enhanced security. Assessing these benefits against the investment helps determine the system's true value proposition. It's essential to strike a balance between cost and the system's capabilities, ensuring that the chosen solution aligns with the organization's needs while delivering a significant return on investment in the long term.

6. Sustainability

Sustainable manufacturing operations encompass more than just environmental impact; they extend to social and economic aspects as well. A sustainable tracking device for equipment aligns with an organization's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by promoting energy-efficient hardware, minimizing waste through efficient use of resources, and employing eco-friendly materials where possible. Such systems may contribute to ethical heavy equipment management by ensuring responsible sourcing and disposal of tracking components. Evaluating the sustainability credentials of an equipment tracking system not only reflects a company's commitment to environmental responsibility, but also aligns with ethical considerations, fostering a positive brand image and contributing to a more sustainable future.

7. Customization

A one-size-fits-all approach rarely suffices in the complex landscape of equipment management. Instead, look for a tracking solution that offers customization options to tailor-fit the system according to your unique operational requirements. Every organization operates uniquely, with distinct workflows and requirements. A customizable equipment tracker device allows companies to adapt the software to their particular operational processes, rather than forcing a pre-designed solution to fit where it does not. It enables the inclusion of specific features or functionalities crucial for efficient asset management, such as custom data fields, unique reporting formats, or integration with software. This customization not only enhances user adoption by aligning the system with familiar workflows but also ensures that the tracking solution evolves alongside changing business needs. By prioritizing customization options, companies can optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of their asset tracking system, maximizing its value and impact on daily operations.

The Best Equipment Tracking System

While you’re evaluating which equipment tracker you should use, consider our AirFinder OnSite solution. AirFinder OnSite is a simple, customizable, equipment tracking solution that provides manufacturers with visibility of their equipment in real time. Visibility of assets through this affordable solution means manufacturers reduce loss of equipment and improve productivity. Having this visibility also makes it easy for companies to make decisions on how to improve their manufacturing operations. Through visibility of operations, manufacturers are made aware of bottlenecks when they arise so action can be taken to accommodate them. This increases the amount you can produce in one day. By tracking tools, you are able to eliminate delays and wasted time caused by misplaced or lost tools. Barcode scanners and spreadsheets rely on humans to maintain. With our solution, even if a tool is put back in the wrong spot, it’s easy to find. You simply look it up and go to retrieve it. This way you aren’t wasting your time on meaningless tasks and actually can perform your job responsibilities. Through AirFinder OnSite, you’ll see an improvement in your everyday operations and have the tools to set yourself ahead of the competition.

Conclusion

Investing in an equipment tracking solution is a critical strategic move for manufacturers aiming to optimize their operations and maximize production efficiency. Part of investing in a solution includes the research to make sure your investment in a particular system is worth it. By evaluating each factor, companies gain a comprehensive understanding of the critical aspects that contribute to the success of such an investment. The integration of these considerations into the decision-making process enables organizations to harness the full potential of an equipment tracking solution, paving the way for optimized operations, increased productivity, minimized downtime, and more. Ultimately, the goal is not merely to acquire a tracking system but to invest strategically in a solution that becomes an invaluable asset, driving efficiency, innovation, and competitiveness. To discover more about our solution and whether they meet your company’s criteria, book a demo with our team of experts.

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Written by Emily Saldivar

Emily Saldivar is a Marketing Specialist for Link Labs and has been with the company since 2020. She has a background in content writing and is furthering the Link Labs mission through social media and other platforms.

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