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An asset is any item that may have financial value. When business professionals think about assets, they normally think about the tools, equipment, and products that they make or sell. Most businesses depend on their assets to function and to generate profits, so it is often important that they practice asset management, which is a way of knowing which items they have and how well they are functioning. Some of the most common types of asset tracking system are for fixed assets, such as equipment and tools, Information Technology (IT) tracking for computers and network devices, and fleet tracking for automobiles and other vehicles.
Asset tracking is normally performed by an inventory or asset manager. Smaller businesses might have department managers who are responsible for all of the assets in their departments. In many cases, however, a position is developed solely for the purpose of asset tracking since this can allow for more effective management, cutting back on cost associated with missing or damaged items.
When managing fixed assets, such as tools and machines, an asset tracking system normally requires asset managers to use bar codes or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking for registering items. A manager can scan a tracking device and read on a computer monitor information regarding when a piece was received, what kind of repairs it has undergone, and when it might be due for an inspection. The system might also allow for asset managers to record complaints or problems associated with each piece of equipment.
The asset tracking system needs required by an Information Technology (IT) professional might be similar to those of other fixed asset managers, though IT specialists also have to worry about updates to programs and security upgrades. Aside from registering and tracking hardware, normally by assigning identification numbers and bar codes or RFIDs, IT professionals also may create network wide programs that automatically update computers, keeping all workstations on the same page. Larger companies, especially those that lease out computers, might decide to outsource their computer asset tracking.
Companies that use vehicles, such as cars and trucks, are said to have fleets. While the kinds of asset tracking system used by fleet managers might also include use of RFIDs and bar codes, it is also common for fleet managers to install tracking devices in their vehicles that can actually track locations of vehicles. A fleet asset tracking system also normally includes the recording of mileage and fuel purchases.