Asset tracking systems are increasing in popularity and for good reasons. Firms across multiple industries are realizing benefits from having visibility to where their physical assets are currently located, as well as where they have been. Benefits include:
- Dramatically reducing the time and cost associated with locating lost items
- Taking inventory counts in minutes versus hours
- Assuring inventory accuracy and reducing shrinkage
While these benefits are certainly important, they do not impact real-time actions. Most often, information is updated in weekly or daily reports providing the latest item location data. This tells you what has happened, but it doesn’t help you make instant decisions to correct potential problems before they occur.
Your asset tracking system can do so much more if you take advantage of a small but powerful function – the alert. Alerts are messages sent from a system to designated individuals in the form of an email or text message. Alerts can also be signals sent to activate lights, alarms, or cameras. These alerts instantly inform the responsible person that something specific has happened that needs immediate attention.
How can you best use alerts? There are a number of ways:
- Enforce movement policies
- Report scheduled movements
- Send maintenance reminders
- Send temperature alerts
- Link any business rule to an alert
The most obvious reason an alert is issued is when an item moves somewhere it’s not supposed to go. Say you have assets that are meant to remain in a secured area like a data center. When an RFID reader detects that an item has left the room without authorization, it will trigger an alert to security that a movement violation is in process. Actions can be taken to intercept the asset before it leaves the building. The system is enforcing a real-time event and preventing an issue before it happens. Without this capability, you would simply have a daily report that reads “This item is now missing.”
Movement alerts can also signal positive, expected actions. Suppose that same IT asset was due to travel to a service center to get a firmware upgrade. An alert could inform all relevant parties when the item has left the data center and then, a few minutes later, confirm it has arrived at the proper location. If too much time has transpired between the locations, a “gone missing” alert can be triggered.
Alerts do not have to be movement related. Any type of business rule can be created and linked to an alarm. Suppose you have tools that need to be calibrated within a certain time period. When that time is nearly up, the system could send an alert “Item 12345 is due for calibration in 24 hours and it’s last known location was in Room 201.” The same alert logic would apply if an item has a pre-defined number of uses before maintenance is required. “Item ABC was just utilized for the hundredth time. It is now due for cleaning and preventative maintenance.”
Shipping and receiving actions work much the same way. If a shipment of perishables has been waiting too long to be unloaded, an alert can be sent saying “Shipment 678 was delivered at 12:17 to dock door A12. It must be put into refrigeration within the next 30 minutes.” Or if the wrong item was loaded onto a truck, the forklift driver could be notified immediately – even with just a light and/or a horn.
The beauty of this is, providing this functionality may cost little to nothing additional to deploy. If you already have an asset tracking system you may be able to leverage your existing reader infrastructure or add just a few more devices at newly defined read points. And the more you utilize the system, the easier it is to cost justify. As long as your asset tracking software supports using business logic to trigger alerts, the sky is really the limit.
Unless the sky is off-limits, in which case an alert will sound.
Contact us at email@example.com to help you turn your business policies and asset tracking solution into a real-time alerts system.