1O CIO Considerations before selecting an Asset Quality Control Assistant

Considerations before selecting an Asset Quality Control System

October 2017


Written by: Jason Spight

Today, asset quality control goes beyond just knowing where your assets are. The best asset quality control assistants are instrumental in providing a reliable means of managing inventory and monitoring loss. When goods are in transit, there is a greater risk, but you also need to monitor your goods in your warehouse or storage. Whether you need to keep your assets stored at a certain temperature or want an additional layer of security through notifications of tampering, the right asset assistant will make it easy to manage your goods from the beginning through final delivery.

If you are responsible for finding and implementing the right solution, there are many different aspects that you should consider. The problem for many companies is that they are not sure what the right solution is. With so many options, you want something that will provide you with all the functionality you need without forcing you to wade through functionality you don't need. You may want to limit the equipment you must manage. Perhaps there is a problem scenario you have encountered in the past that you are hoping to entirely avoid in the future. To ensure you find the right solution for your business here are the things you need to consider.

Primary Asset Quality Control Assistant Needs

There are two primary types of asset quality control.

  1. Many businesses require environmental monitoring for assets stored in their facilities. Asset Quality Control Assistants inside facilities can provide information if certain key points change, such as the temperature in a facility. You will have more control over your product environments, which also makes it easier to integrate the data into your existing systems.
  2. Most businesses have assets located in areas that are beyond the businesses' control, whether it is a separate storage facility or goods that are in transit. Assets under these conditions require more of a focus on security. Since they are outside your network, your asset quality control assistant needs to be more robust. Asset motion state corresponds with the challenges of tracking goods kept in facilities outside your control.

It is very likely that your business has assets inside facilities you control or moving in vehicles that are beyond your control. You want a solution that easily integrates these needs and lets you customize notifications and data based on different scenarios and circumstances.

Asset Quality Control Equipment and Maintenance

With a wide range of asset quality control assistants, your equipment needs can vary. Two of the most common equipment requirements are beacons and beacon scanners. Tracking beacons are required by Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). They are small devices that are kept with your product so that they can broadcast information on the conditions and location of your goods. Their corresponding scanners collect the data transmitted by the beacon and relay it to supporting applications. Scanners are not required for all beacons, particularly personal and pier to pier tracking. Personal trackers tend to use trackers that use mobile devices to manage and relay data. Industrial trackers use network sources that are attached to beacon scanners for data transport.

Some equipment includes additional features that can enhance your tracking and data collection.

  • Motion measuring is straightforward – when the beacon is moved, it triggers an alert. This can provide an additional level of security, which is great for assets that are outside of your facility.
  • Temperature measurement is required for many types of products, particularly technology and foods. Some equipment will record the temperature of the surrounding environment, giving you data on the storage environment. Having this built into your other supply chain systems can really simplify management of your goods, both in your facilities and outside of them. If your goods are exposed to conditions that are outside of their optimal temperatures, you will receive notification so that you can act quickly to minimize loss.
  • Ambient light sensors provide an additional level of security as its primary purpose is to detect when it is inside or outside. If someone attempts to take some of your goods and the beacon is attached, you will receive notification that the assets have moved outside.
  • Embedded URLs provide a way to receive notifications to all nearby devices if your specific tracking URL is triggered.

You also need to keep in mind the life cycles of each piece of equipment. From the battery life to connection failure, you will need to create a plan and procedures to maintaining and managing your equipment. If you want to keep it simple, you can go with equipment that has fewer crucial points of failure. Keep in mind that some data redundancy is likely, but you can select an asset quality control assistant that will keep redundancy to a minimum without omitting key data points that need the redundancy.

In the event that a piece of equipment fails, your plan should include the timeline for ordering and acquiring replacements. Looking into classes for maintenance and repair may increase the initial cost for implementing a new system, but it may save you a considerable sum in the long run. For critical assets, you will want this to be as short a duration as possible, or you may want to keep some spare equipment on hand at all times to minimize the downtime of your asset quality control assistant.

Asset Quality Control Platform

One of the most important aspects of asset quality control is finding a platform that is both flexible and easy to integrate with your current systems. Often this is will be the determining factor for if a system is the right fit, but it can take the longest to analyze because applications are so varied. Fortunately, you have already decided which features you need, so if those features are included with the hardware, they should be included in the application and data tracking. However, that does not mean that it will be easy to integrate into your current architecture. In some cases, you may not be able to access features you need in the application because of integration issues between the application and your current network.

The first question to answer is "Does the vendor application support your corporate technology environment?" If the answer is no, then you can immediately eliminate the system from consideration. If you determine that it is supported, the next consideration is the platform's data architecture. This is key for creating an implementation plan so that you can start using your system as soon as possible. It will also expose areas where the platform may not be as strong as you need it, and help you see flaws in your current systems.

The Vendor's Offerings

No matter how well the equipment, features, and application fits into your needs, if the vendor does not offer the right services, end-to-end support, or meet your security standards, you can eliminate that asset quality control system from consideration.

It is common for vendors to offer some type of assistance or support a handful of use cases, but typically they do not offer end-to-end solutions. This means that the burden of implementation, maintenance, and management are nearly completely your responsibility. For new technology, this can be particularly difficult, no matter how experienced your staff.

For example, bluetooth beacons can record details about your products and inventory. Vendors may not provide much more than you would get if you went directly to a manufacturer. They may give you the equipment and an app or COTS(commercial-off-the-shelf) tool that requires customization to meet your needs. This could save you money in the short term, but the implementation and integration will likely take a much longer than if you had a more plug and play solution.

When it comes to working with the data relayed through the scanners, you want a solution with maximum flexibility and scalability so that you can better analyze the data you receive. If the data is collected, but is only offered in data dumps, you probably aren't going to see an improvement in inventory loss because data analysis will take too long to complete. You want a system that can analyze the data and notify you of problems, not a passive data set that relies on constant human interaction to analyze asset conditions. Finding a vendor that provides end-to-end support means that you will have everything set up and ready to use soon after the equipment is received.

With end-to-end support, you can also see a reduced amount of time required for your staff to adopt and be involved in the process. While they will need to be involved to some extent, you don't want them to be completely dedicated to the implementation of an asset quality control assistant – they have other tasks that you probably cannot afford to let slide. They can work with the vendor to ensure that the asset assistant is complete and meets your security standards.

For more details, you can contact Ovalz for more information. We can help you determine the right method of monitoring your assets based on your current and possible future needs. You can even take Ovalz for a quick test drive and see what a robust and flexible asset quality control assitant can do. Ovalz also offers continued support and training to ensure that the transition of data management goes smoothly. However, you will not need to go it alone – if you have questions, concerns, or problems, we always have experts on hand to help you. 

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