Employees on Floor 7 are distraught: the coffee machine in the corner of the office has broken down! As the facilities manager, it is your job to investigate the problem. But before you try and fix it, you need to find out a little more about the machine itself. Unfortunately, your predecessor did not follow the most effective asset tagging procedures, so you cannot find out how old the machine is, when it was last maintained or even who supplied it.
Asset tagging has always been an important task for facilities managers. And with today’s digital revolution, asset tagging solutions are expected to become faster, smarter and even more efficient. Research suggests that the market for asset tracking technology will reach $36 billion by 2025 (more than double what it is today).
While this is positive news, many facilities managers continue to make do with outdated inventory management systems. Let’s look at how asset tagging is changing and how you can prepare for a more digital future.
Refresh: what is asset tagging in facilities management?
Facilities managers are responsible for maintaining a comprehensive inventory of all fixed and movable assets belonging to the organisation.
- Movable assets: This includes furniture such as desks and chairs, equipment such as PC’s and printers, and many other miscellaneous items – from fire extinguishers to projectors to wall art.
- Fixed assets: This refers to any asset which is physically part of the building and cannot be moved. The facility manager’s responsibility for these will vary depending on the contract, but it often includes things like HVAC systems, radiators, pipes, fans and some electrical systems.
Asset tracking is an incredibly important task, and it meets many needs of the organisation. Benefits of asset tagging include:
- Tells you where an asset is (or should be) located
- Supports compliance with health and safety regulations
- Ensures timely maintenance
- Helps you track costs
- Lets you identify underutilised assets
- Keep records (poor asset reporting is a huge accounting headache)
- Reduces the risk of theft
How is asset tracking changing in facilities management?
Over the decades, asset tagging has evolved significantly in all kinds of facilities management contexts:
- Past: Traditional paper-based asset tracking using hand-written stickers and centralised filing cabinets
- Now: Barcode driven asset tagging solutions are widespread today, although more advanced organisations are beginning to use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags
- Future: Digitally driven asset tracking will be the norm, combining IoT, NFC tags, asset tagging apps and even blockchain technology
FM tech: Read our intro to Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM)
What could the latest methods look like?
With the spread of digital solutions in facilities management, we can expect more comprehensive asset tagging solutions to emerge in future. What might this look like?
Each of your organisation’s coffee machines has had IoT devices installed by the manufacturer which can remotely identify problems and help with troubleshooting. The coffee machine itself will also have a unique asset identifier applied to it by your organisation (either as a barcode sticker or using an NFC tag that connects to your mobile device).
In many cases, the IoT sensor can alert you to maintenance issues (if it is too hot inside the machine, for instance) so you can fix the problem early. What’s more, because the asset is tagged and located digitally, it is easy to know exactly where it is on your building plan. You can then send a task to your maintenance team via a facilities management app. They can quickly find the machine, check its history in your digital records and get all the other information they need to get it working again fast.
By using digital asset tagging solutions, it then becomes much easier to maintain your assets, find out information about them and keep them running smoothly.
3 steps to modernise your asset tagging solutions
Digital technology clearly brings many benefits to asset tagging in facilities management. Here is how you can begin making use of the most cutting-edge tools.
1. Identify the problems you face
Digital technology should not be deployed simply because it is new. Instead, tech should be selected according to how well it addresses the specific problems you are facing. So, the first step in modernising your asset tracking processes is to identify your problems:
- Are you continually losing items? An IoT sensor system will help geolocate them
- Is maintenance of machinery costing too much? A solution with a centralised database will let you quickly compare costs
- Are assets underutilised? Choose a platform that lets you quickly pull up usage data.
Once you have identified your key facilities management issues, you can then select technologies which address them.
2. Deploy appropriate solutions
In some organisations, it will make sense to use the most cutting edge IoT sensors for asset tracking. In other places (and especially in facilities with a smaller footprint) using simple barcodes that can be scanned using any smartphone will be more than sufficient.
3. Use a smart central database
One of the key benefits of digital asset tracking is that it can use smart technology to help you manage movable and fixed assets much more efficiently. PlanRadar, for instance, can provide you with automatic maintenance alerts and lets you assign tasks to contractors. It also lets you quickly compile reports on asset usage and status.
In-depth guide: How to choose facilities management software
Asset tagging with PlanRadar
PlanRadar allows you to digitise your asset tagging processes. Using our customisable forms, you can easily assign a unique identity to every asset your company owns. PlanRadar lets you connect barcode systems, NFC tags or even IoT sensor systems into our central database. Using PlanRadar for asset tagging means you have a centralised location where you can view and report on all your assets, generate routine maintenance alerts as well as hand out tasks to staff and contractors.
If you are looking to future proof asset tagging in your facilities management operations, request a demo of PlanRadar today. Then you can see how we can help you go digital.