Every business needs to keep close tabs on their assets and their inventory. Since there are many systems on the market to help with these tasks, it might be helpful to define what exactly these terms mean.
Assets are things that a company uses in the day to day operation of their business, such as furniture, tools, and computers. These objects may remain on site, or from time to time be taken by an employee to use at another location. Ultimately they belong to the company. Assets are permanent.
Inventory are objects that are distributed or sold by the company, or items that are used in the production of whatever product the business produces. These things come and go, are bought and sold, used up and replaced. Inventory is temporary.
A business owner needs to understand these basic principles before trying to ascertain what sort of tracking solutions will best improve efficiency. Assets need a system that will keep track of their maintenance and depreciation. Inventory requires a system that will track and monitor stock levels so that they may be reordered when necessary. Both Assets and Inventory may be checked in and out by employees, and that needs to be carefully recorded.
The importance of keeping track of assets and inventory is not only important to the success of a business or a corporation, but it is becoming critical in almost every situation that you can imagine. Our world is becoming smaller and companies both large and small communicate and sell their products all over the globe. All our interactions, both professionally and personally are all part of the workings of the global economy.
Companies use tracking technology when purchasing raw materials in order to speed up production and get their product to market quicker. Everything is monitored including the employees on the production line and in the office. They sign in and out with a fingerprint. Their breaks, sick days, vacation days, rate of pay, overtime and government deductions are tabulated and reported.
On the drive home you may be blissfully unaware, but there are cameras and sensors at traffic lights, in stores and at banks. Do you have a GPS system in your vehicle? Did you stop to pick up a few groceries? Your purchases were recorded as you checked out. There is technology available that will allow stores and restaurants to message your cell phone with sale announcements and electronic coupons. Since your purchases are recorded, don’t be surprised when you receive a message alerting you to the fact that your favorite cologne is on sale.
There are several technologies that track inventory, vehicles, livestock, virtually anything. Geographic Information Sytems (GIS) captures, stores, analyzes and reports large scale geograhic information. Global Positioning (GPS) is used for outdoor positioning and works when a GPS receiver, such as the one in your cellphone, interacts with at least four of the 27 satellites that orbit the earth.
Then there is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which are small microchips, or tags, that are can be attached to consumer goods, including live animals. A reader transmits radio waves that activate the RFID tag and transmits information to a database. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) is a network of devices that pass data over radio waves up to 300 feet.
For most small to medium business the use of barcodes and barcode scanners are the most cost effective way to keep track of Assets, Stock and Inventory. First of all, software must be purchased, because it is this that makes the system function. A programmer inputs every item needing to be tracked into the database, and assigns it a barcode label. Once this basic information is recorded, it is an easy matter to update and make changes, such as pricing.
Next on the list is the barcode scanner which contains technology that reads the barcode label using photo sensors. These sensors translate the distinctive black lines and white spaces, which really do mean something. This information is then magically matched to the information in the database.
All the details stored in the database can be linked to a company’s bookkeeping system, thereby keeping track of other necessary data. Things such as depreciation of company property, and maintenance of production equipment and computers are all necessary in the preparation of financial statements and balance sheets.
Businesses of all sorts, from small to large have greatly benefited from the huge advances in asset tracking and inventory and stock control. Things run smoother, and there is less trouble shooting. Managers can manage, and business owners see an improved bottom line. All this success trickles down to everyday life, to folks like you and me.
Don’t be surprised one day when you come home from work, reach into the refrigerator for a cold one, and a disembodied voice proclaims that you are out of soda.
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