Asset tracking systems give warehouses a competitive edge

  • Articles
  • Mar 01,23
Many warehouses still rely on manual methods to track their inventory and equipment. By moving to a digital system, logistics companies can reap significant benefits, gaining a critical edge over their competitors in the process, says Emily Newton.
Asset tracking systems give warehouses a competitive edge

Warehouse operations are essential to functional supply chains, but many struggle with inefficiency and errors. Asset tracking systems — which provide real-time data on warehouse assets — their conditions and locations, can help organizations overcome those challenges.

Many warehouses still rely on manual methods to track their inventory and equipment. By moving to a digital system, logistics companies can reap significant benefits, gaining a critical edge over their competitors in the process.

How asset tracking systems improve warehouse operations
Asset tracking systems provide a centralised window to view real-time information on everything from packages to forklifts. This insight enables several key advantages across the warehouse.

Higher efficiency
Real-time monitoring of warehouse assets lets teams work more efficiently. When employees can see exactly where everything is at all times, they can save considerable time they would otherwise spend looking for assets.

Picking workflows have some of the most to gain from these efficiency improvements. Order pickers can spend up to 85 per cent of their time walking through shelves, searching for items. Asset tracking systems can guide them along the most efficient route to get to the package they need, eliminating wasted time.

Workers can accomplish more in a workday as they minimize lost time from unnecessary travel and searching. Consequently, warehouses can maximize their output by improving their visibility through real-time asset tracking.

Fewer Errors
Using a digital asset tracking solution instead of manual methods also reduces the risks of employee error. Manually recording asset locations, conditions and other factors is repetitive, detail-oriented work, which makes it prone to mistakes. Digital asset tracking platforms upload this data automatically and update it in real-time, eliminating the potential for these inaccuracies.

Manual data entry error rates hover around 1 per cent on average, which seems small until businesses consider the scale most warehouses operate at and how little factors can add up over time. By minimizing the human role in this record-keeping, warehouses can take that figure to virtually zero. When that happens, they ensure they ship the correct orders and save time correcting mistakes.

Ongoing Improvements
As companies track their warehouse assets over time, they will generate valuable data points for ongoing improvements. Tracking solutions reveal three main types of data:

  • Operational data, which covers how employees use assets
  • Functional data, like an asset’s location or maintenance history
  • Commercial data, like key performance indicators and associated profits
  • Warehouse operators can look at trends across these categories to see where and how to improve. Frequent maintenance issues in one forklift could suggest the need for a newer model. Longer average picking times for one product type could reveal a poorly organised part of the warehouse. Organisations will become more cost-effective and efficient as they see the need for and make these changes.

    Types of Asset Tracking Systems
    Companies wanting to capitalise on these benefits have several options to choose from. Many asset-tracking technologies exist today, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of the most popular systems warehouses should know about.

    Global positioning system asset tracking uses the same technology as vehicles’ GPS navigation systems. It offers real-time location services and has a virtually unlimited range, making it ideal for tracking trucks or shipments en route. However, it cannot support much data outside of location and speed, has low signal strength indoors and is relatively inaccurate for smaller assets.

    Bluetooth — specifically Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) — is a more appropriate choice for tracking smaller warehouse assets like packages. BLE is highly precise and can transmit a wide range of information, so warehouses can use it for tracking conditions, not just locations. It also uses minimal power and is affordable, making it easier to implement.

    Bluetooth ranges can technically reach more than a kilometer, but they typically only stretch up to 50 meters in most cases. That limited range may be an issue for some warehouses.

    Radio-frequency identification is another standard technology for asset tracking systems. RFID tags use electromagnetic fields to transmit information. Many are passive, using no internal batteries, making them highly affordable and easy to implement. However, passive RFID has a limited range.

    Active RFID tags are more expensive but can carry a broader range of information and transmit it further. These options are ideal for assets with real-time tracking needs, such as those sensitive to temperature changes.

    Ultra-wideband (UWB) is a less common but helpful asset-tracking technology. UWB is similar to Wi-Fi but uses shorter pulses and higher frequencies, making it ideal for order-picking systems. UWB networks also have high bandwidth, letting them transmit considerable amounts of data, but their range is limited.

    Asset Tracking Best Practices
    To maximize these technologies, warehouses should not constrain themselves to one tracking system. Instead, they should use a mix of technologies for different products or workflows, like GPS tracking for their fleet and RFID for on-shelf inventories. This variety will help use each technology’s benefits to their greatest extent.

    When determining which technologies and supporting asset tracking platforms to use, warehouses should start by outlining their needs and goals. Once businesses understand their budgets, efficiency goals, assets to track and expected outcomes, they can set relevant KPIs and find the optimal solution for their needs. Communicating these requirements with asset tracking system providers will help them find the ideal platform.

    Finally, warehouses should start by applying asset tracking to the area that stands to improve the most. Financial barriers and lack of technological expertise are two of the most common obstacles to Industry 4.0, but slow, careful approaches resolve both. If warehouses start small and carefully learn what works and what does not before expanding, they can maximize their returns with this technology.

    Tracking Warehouse Assets Provides Crucial Advantages
    Warehouse asset tracking systems are critical tools for supply chain organizations today. As more facilities implement them, logistics operations will become faster, more accurate and less error-prone. Capitalizing on these benefits early could help warehouses surge past their competition before this technology becomes an industry standard.

    About the author:
    Emily Newton is a tech and industrial journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine.

    Related Stories

    Smart Manufacturing
    Is cobot market heading for a second growth surge?

    Is cobot market heading for a second growth surge?

    Strong growth is predicted in shipments through to 2027 and beyond, with price declines slowing as collaborative robots (cobots) become more intelligent and capable of carrying greater payload, says..

    Read more
    Material Handling Equipment
    Handling efficiently

    Handling efficiently

    In April 2023, manufacturing activity in India grew the fastest in four months of 2023, driven largely by growth in domestic consumption, and limited impact of rising raw material prices.

    Read more
    Material Handling Equipment
    Warehousing boom lifts demand for material handling equipment

    Warehousing boom lifts demand for material handling equipment

    Rise in Grade A warehousing demand is leading to growth in material handling equipment (MHE) industry. For smooth and efficient movement of materials, companies are opting automated MHE to remain co..

    Read more

    Related Products

    Dock Leveller


    Besto Material Handling Equipments offers a wide range of dock leveller.

    Read more

    Request a Quote

    Multi Tire


    SCI Storage Solution offers a wide range of multi tire.

    Read more

    Request a Quote

    Industrial Lifting Equipment


    Rana Material Handling Equipments Pvt Ltd offers a wide range of industrial lifting equipment.

    Read more

    Request a Quote

    Hi There!

    Now get regular updates from IPF Magazine on WhatsApp!

    Click on link below, message us with a simple hi, and SAVE our number

    You will have subscribed to our Industrial News on Whatsapp! Enjoy

    +91 84228 74016

    Reach out to us

    Call us at +91 8108603000 or

    Schedule a Call Back