Evaluating and Optimizing the ROI of Asset Tracking Systems

Loading Dock for Shipping Containers


Tracking, managing, and maintaining assets is a vital component of any business. It also can be a complex undertaking, especially when these assets are mobile, remote and either outside LANs or transitioning from one network to the next.  Tracking Assets with older technologies such as RFID tags has already proven to be a solution where supply chains are relatively simple, but addressing these challenges for the more complex, higher value, mobile and remote assets has been elusive.   However, new cellular technologies have emerged in recent years which remove the old barriers to achieving this goal. The availability of inexpensive data and a greater ability to preserve battery life, among other factors, have significantly brought down the cost of monitoring remote, mobile and transitional assets where older solutions break down. The key to a successful implementation is to determine the best business and technical models to ensure a viable ROI on the investment.

Upstream and Downstream of Supply Chain
Cohesive asset monitoring solutions can bring a higher level of situational awareness and control to your daily operations. Asset tracking devices that utilize cellular, GPS and a variety of sensors allow you to monitor every aspect of your environment and to make holistic decisions to benefit your company and bottom line. No matter what the size, value, and nature of the assets you own, here are some things to consider for obtaining an ROI on advanced asset tracking systems.

About Asset Trackers

In the past, remote asset tracking was limited to scans and checkpoints rather than real time reporting. This means you might know that an asset was present at a period of time in history, but not have current information on its location or status. Tracking while in transit was mostly associated with the method of transport, such the location of a truck, but not whether the actual asset was ON the truck.

Today, tracking devices can be attached to pallets, bins, totes, or the asset itself – providing true visibility to the exact current location and status. This item level tracking enables end-to-end, bottom-up visibility throughout the supply chain and to the finished product, particularly when that finished product is remote.

Pallet Tracking with NL-AT6

In addition to location, modern asset tracking solutions can simultaneously monitor for motion, temperature / humidity and other environmental conditions. Embedded sensors ensure the integrity of your assets, noting events such as drops, tilts and out of spec environmental conditions.

Asset Tracking Sensors Can Include:

  • Location
  • 3 Axis Accelerometer
  • Temperature / Humidity
  • Light
  • BLE Scanning
  • Laser Ranging Distance Sensor

Factors in Establishing an ROI

1. Asset Searches

The first and most obvious factor in establishing an ROI for modern Asset Tracking solutions is the time and money spent searching for those assets.  When a valued asset “Goes Missing”, a flurry of activity ensues.  Manhours spent on contacting potential culprits, field workers driving to perform searches and all the reporting and communicating internally with management and externally with customers costs both time and money.

2. Operational Efficiencies

The second most obvious factor in establishing an ROI for modern Asset Tracking solutions is the opportunity to streamline operations.  The ability to “light up” the supply chain by knowing the precise location of incoming or transitional assets takes “Just in time” to the next level.  Shortening cycle times in operational workflows translates into both reducing COGS and improving cash flow.

3. Lost Revenue

In most circumstances, the reason that we have awareness that an asset is missing is that it was needed somewhere.  Most likely the reason it was needed was to produce revenue.  Lost asset, lost revenue.

4. Incoming QA

Lettuce and sensitive scientific instruments have something in common.  If they are compromised during transportation, there is a very real loss to the receiving party.  Working capital is tied up for accepting product that cannot be converted into revenue.  Once again, manhours are consumed in obtaining resolution, IF resolution is ever determined, while supplier, transporter and recipient all argue over who actually caused the damage.

5. Labor Utilization

If assets are expected and go missing, there is a strong likelihood that a crew is not being utilized to its full potential.  There is a significant opportunity cost to a production line that is down due to missing raw materials or a field crew not working when a piece of equipment is missing.

6. Preventative Maintenance

Because modern Asset Trackers also include environmental monitoring, they have the potential to improve preventative maintenance practices.  Knowing the condition of assets and having more visibility into predictive maintenance can both reduce downtime (forecasting a failure) and reduce the costs of unnecessary or premature maintenance and replacements.

7. Increased Revenue

The last and perhaps most important consideration in determining an ROI for modern Asset Tracking solutions is to consider if they present new revenue opportunities for your business. Information has value, and if having information about location and status of assets has value to your customers, then this might represent a new revenue stream for your business.

8. Calculating and Optimizing ROI

One significant consideration when developing your ROI model is to weigh the costs & benefits of a standalone “full stack” implementation against integrating a solution into your existing infrastructure software.  Full stack solutions are plug and play, allowing you to sign into a portal with full visibility to your asset portfolio.  Conversely, integration with your enterprise software means that asset data is tied right into your operations and might further increase efficiencies.

Atmosphere IoT Dashboard viewing a NimbeLink Asset Tracker sensor data
Example Dashboard from Atmosphere IoT

“… ROI is much easier to obtain today than just a short time ago due to the lowering costs of cellular radios and data plans for today’s IoT applications.”

Every organization is unique and the formula for determining an ROI will be unique to your use case.  With years of experience in the Asset Tracking industry, we have learned that there is no “one size fits all” asset tracker nor “one method fits all” ROI.  But what is also clear is that an ROI is much easier to obtain today than just a short time ago due to the lowering costs of cellular radios and data plans for today’s IoT applications.  With dramatically reduced costs in both hardware and subscriptions, whole new applications are now becoming economically viable.

Read the White Paper – Lighting Up the Supply Chain with Cellular Based Asset Tracking

About NimbeLink

NimbeLink offers a portfolio of cellular based Asset Tracking devices that are deployed globally and tracking thousands of unique applications.  Our Asset Trackers include a variety of environmental sensors and have a battery life that can be extended to as long as 14 years.  With open APIs, our trackers can move data seamlessly into your existing enterprise software or full stack solutions are available through our channel partners which are listed on our website.  For more information, please visit our website at www.NimbeLink.com.