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How to choose the right equipment tracking technology

By Matt Ulrich, Global Sales Manager
Posted 22 Sep 2016

I have been helping businesses across the retail, aerospace, automotive and energy industries adopt equipment tracking technology for the last 12 years.

Introduced to help increase visibility along the supply chain, there are various solutions which enable companies to track and locate equipment and materials, allowing them to benefit from more efficient operations and tighter cost control. For these reasons, we have seen an increase in demand for this product in the oil and gas industry over recent years as companies adapt to operating at a low oil price. 

Adoption to date has been hindered by a lack of understanding of the benefits due to some solutions that do not cover the entire supply chain and data that is available is spread across multiple, disparate systems. However, investing in the right one will ensure your company reaps the benefits of standardisation, simplified processes, cost reduction and more accurate intelligence. 

Adopting supply chain technology will involve investment and resources - which are scarce in the current opertating climate. It is therefore essential that you know what to look out for. Below is my set of 10 tips for ensuring you adopt the right one:

Experience in the industry

Although there are lessons to be learned from other industries, the oil and gas sector has a range of complexities that are completely unique. It's important that the company you choose to work with has experience of oilfield asset tracking. I have seen a number of implementations in the oilfield fail due to lack of industry and technology specific knowledge.

Look inwardly at processes

Introducing the technology alone will not be enough to reap the benefits of increased efficiency and reduced costs. Current key processes should be analysed and re-engineered before the integration of technology to ensure standardised, simpler methods.

Choosing the right technology

The main technologies used in asset tracking are GPS and RFID. GPS allows global identification whereas RFID is more appropriate for onsite visibility. Each technology offers different features and benefits. Combining these technologies greately improves supply chain visibility, inside and outwith operational zones, which a single technology approach cannot deliver.

One size doesn't fit all

Each company is different, and each has its own processes, challenges and strengths. It's important that the solution is flexible enough to be tailored to fit your company's needs, from reporting on set KPIs to unique dashboards.

Reporting

Although many companies are still offering just a "dot on the map", technology has moved on since then and enabling additional layers of business intelligence. Many solutions now offer in depth analytics of previously unobtainable data, allowing for more accurate decision making and planning, proactive asset management and enabling the identification of issues before they occur.

Technical support

Ensure the company has a dedicated team of experts that can support any queries from software to hardware, 24/7 to ensure that any issues are addressed quickly, minimising any disruption to your operations.

Remove as many manual processes as you can 

Some solutions still rely on manual processes and excel spreadsheets, but to ensure risk and costs are reduced it's important that it is truly automated.

Applying auto-ID technology should remove many manual processes related to asset tracking, logistics coordination, reporting and administration.

Industry standards

The hardware must be suitable and safe for offshore use. Be sure to work with a company that can verify its tags are hardwearing, certified to critical hazardous area standards such as ATEX and IEC-Ex and have been tested for dropped objects.

End-to-end tracking

In order to achieve full visibility, the technology must facilitate end-to-end tracking throughout the entire logistics chain from manufacturing to on and offshore transit and delivery.

Integration with other systems

You don't want the data to be in a standalone system. Be sure to work with a company that offers a combination of international and open standards which enables the solution to integrate seamlessly into your existing business applications.

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