How can asset tracking bring value for you? | Industry 4.0 | Deloitte Netherlands


How can asset tracking bring value for you?

Track and trace parts, products and assets for real time optimization

Do you sometimes wonder where your key or wallet is? This is very human and we expect organizations to be better organized when handling valuable assets. So, why do airports lose your luggage and logistic companies cannot tell you the location of your package or a full sea container? While losing your assets inconveniences you personally, it has a bigger impact on your organization. This is where asset tracking can help.

What is asset tracking?

Asset tracking involves applying tags or sensors to your company’s assets. These can range in size from a key or a piece of tooling, to large pieces of equipment, (semi-)finished products or vehicles. By connecting these tags or sensors to your systems, you can collect and analyze data from these tags. Asset tracking becomes a useful tool, enabling you to track the location and movements of your assets and informing you of your assets’ behavior at any given time. These insights can help you expose previously hidden potential in your operational processes, and open up new revenue streams that will allow your business to benefit and grow. 

Bridging the physical-digital-physical loop

Asset tracking presents an opportunity to start digitizing your operations, by bridging the physical aspect of your assets with a digital dimension. The information you obtain from the real-time tracking of your assets can be leveraged to create a data-driven environment and connect asset tracking to asset intelligence. With this, you can substantiate the decisions you need to make in your organization every day and predict their outcomes with the data derived from your assets. Change the way in which your organization works, by creating more robust processes and increasing control over uncertainties. Read more on the digital-physical-digital loop here.

Physical-digital-physical loop | Industry 4.0 & asset tracking | Deloitte Netherlands
Physical-digital-physical loop

Challenges and business value of asset tracking

Not knowing where your assets are and what movements they make can create various challenges for your business. We often see organizations facing the following three challenges:  

Theft and misplacement of assets. Do your employees have to spend time looking for specific tools? Are you frequently ordering new pieces of equipment or machines, because they were stolen or lost? These questions may not sound like everyday occurrences, but you would be amazed by how much time and money is wasted on these type of issues.How does asset tracking solve this? By letting you know where your assets are and enabling you to analyze their movements. Examples include: 

  • Reduce time spent per employee looking for assets;
  • Reduce the size of your inventory;
  • Improve oversight and control on components and finished goods inventory.

One of our use cases in this area is on Inventory Management and also Zone Detection, to have real time insights in the volumes and whereabouts of your inventory.

Asset downtime. A sudden disruption to a piece of equipment, a certain component not working or not being handled as it should, or a complete shutdown of a machine. All of these are challenges to the speed and efficiency of your processes and your operational costs. 

Instead, use the data from tags or sensors applied to your assets to understand how your assets are being used to maximize the availability of your assets. For example, you can start to:

  • Synchronize asset availability to operational needs to ensure right time availability;
  • Improve planning and forecasting processes.

From a use case perspective you can think of Advanced Analytics for Workforce Scheduling. This allows you to allocate operators to stations and cells based on availability and historical performance.

End to end asset management in complex and global supply chains. Today’s supply chains span the globe and include many different parties. Trying to pinpoint exactly where your supply chain status deviates from the plan can therefore be a extensive and time-consuming challenge. 

Yet, the more assets you track, the more you enable end-to-end insights along your entire supply chain. As such, you can:

  • Re-engineer or optimize your networks;
  • Identify bottlenecks at key process or transit nodes;
  • Improve on-time product delivery to partners and customers.

One of the use cases in this area is WIP accumulation and Constraint Management. This can for example be real-time inventory visibility across production lines, live machine health monitoring and continuous cycle time reporting to improve throughput.

How to implement asset tracking

Having read about the added value that asset tracking brings to the table, the next step is to start thinking about the possibilities for your business. Where would you begin? And how do you continue after taking the initial leap?

To answer these questions and let you exploit asset tracking to its fullest potential, we propose our three-step approach: Think Big, Start Small and Scale Fast.

Think Big: Achieving things beyond the limitations of your current ways of working starts with bold ambition. Consider the broad spectrum of possibilities with which asset tracking can boost your organization to the next level. Then expand into thinking how this will fit into a broader asset management and intelligence vision for the future of your business. 

Start small: However great the end-goal, complex changes can’t be implemented in one go. Based on our experience on implementing asset tracking (and other digital) solutions we propose to start implementing small. Focus on key value drivers within an initial pilot to prove the business case. This minimizes the risk involved and allows you to move forward efficiently towards a viable and holistic solution.

Scale fast: Keep the momentum going. Once you have successfully demonstrated the value of asset tracking in your pilot, move forward to the next opportunity, and then the next. Once your organization recognizes the benefit of asset tracking, you will find that there is an abundance of opportunities to build your solution even further.

Think big, start small, scale fast | Industry 4.0 & asset tracking | Deloitte Netherlands

Future perspective on asset tracking

Looking into the future, we expect asset tracking to offer more and greater opportunities to disrupt current ways of working across various industries. To mention a few examples: asset tracking can allow you to re-define your business models and re-evaluate your place in the value chain. You could move beyond merely providing assets to your clients and expand into managing these assets for them. Or, you could incorporate asset tracking in an asset intelligence strategy and move to a data- and insight-driven environment. You can stay one step ahead by predicting and preventing the occurrence of issues and challenges related to your assets and processes, instead of reacting to something that has already happened. 

Yet, the value of asset tracking depends on your business and the problem you want it to solve. As the investment in asset tracking is non-trivial – via the required infrastructure, potential process (re)design and building the solution – identifying the business need or objective is critical to realizing any value from asset tracking.

To summarize, having a continuous up-to-date status of your assets can open a whole new spectrum of information beneficial for your business. Asset tracking provides this information with ease and speed, leading to much shorter response times to asset related challenges and opportunities. We will continue this series with an article on the technical aspects of asset tracking. Be on the lookout for this article!

More information

Are you interested to know more? Please contact Helena Lisachuk, Bas de Groot or Rob Dickson via the contact details below. Or visit Deloitte's Industry 4.0 page.

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