Asset Management vs. Asset Tracking…the View from E-ISG

Today I welcome guest blogger Jackie Luo, Chief Executive Officer of E-ISG Asset Intelligence, an Intelleflex partner that provides an enterprise asset management software solution for mid-sized enterprises and government agencies.  Jackie has a range of experiences in the mobile and enterprise software industries and believes that the power of mobility and cloud-based application will bring much more efficient asset management solution to enterprises. I trust you’ll find her perspectives insightful and you can email her by clicking here.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing, Intelleflex


Jackie Luo

CEO of E-ISG Asset Intelligence

I often hear people mix these two terms “asset tracking” and “asset management”.  It’s easy to mix them because they are both associated with assets, and require some form of barcodes, tracking devices and some kind of software to collect and display data. But they are different, in scope, goals, and business processes.

  • Scope: Asset tracking typically covers a subset of assets, while asset management should cover enterprise wide physical and IT assets, including buildings, equipment, IT hardware and software, consumables and capitalized assets. For example, you need to track all your vehicles, so you put GPS devices in your vehicle to track their location, driving history, etc. You need to track a particular batch of shipment in order to know the condition during shipment, so you put some sensor devices on these shipments to monitor the temperature, humidity, etc.   Enterprise asset management is much broader in scope. It seeks visibility to the physical and fiscal information of all your assets, e.g. where they are, who have them, purchase cost, replacement value, maintenance schedule,  so you can make the best decision on how to use your assets. In the context of enterprise wide assets, items for asset tracking, like vehicles or some high value and mobile equipment are items in sub categories in the entire enterprise asset registry.
  • Business processes: Enterprise asset management is a key process in a business operation. It touches cross functional departments like procurement, facilities management, IT services, and financial reporting. The business process for asset tracking is most likely simpler, and touches fewer cross functional points.  Consequently, the effectiveness in managing enterprise assets has C-level visibility, while the responsibility for asset tracking most likely resides in individual departments.
  • Goals: The goals for asset management include 1) reduce the spend on equipment purchases, 2) optimize the life-cycle costs of equipment 3) institute accountability of assets, and 4) reduce the risks in asset management (e.g. theft, improper disposal of assets, failure in compliance). The goals for asset tracking are often specific to the category of assets, for example, on time shipment, utilization rates of a piece of equipment.

Although asset tracking and asset management are different, there is no reason why the tools to support these business processes should be separate. Since enterprise asset management addresses the entire portfolio of assets, a company’s enterprise asset management solutions should also be able to address specific asset tracking needs.  What does it means for the end users? They don’t have to switch applications. They don’t need to enter data twice. They don’t have to import and export data between applications. These should be the basic requirements in an asset management solution. Moreover, with the increasing use of RFID tags in asset tracking, an asset management software solution should have built in support to RFID tag reading workflow. This will eliminate expensive RFID middleware or customization.  You can learn more about E-ISG’s solution here.

What Happened to Our _____? It Was Here a Minute Ago.

If you work at a hospital, factory or simply in an office, you may have noticed that things tend to sometimes walk off on their own. This is bad enough if you lose a pen or notebook but imagine the cost when it’s high-value assets like computers or medical equipment that is misplaced around your facility, or worse – disappearing out your doors.

According to Intelleflex partner Supply Insight, tracking and managing assets presents four challenges:

  • Accountability: Who has or took the asset?
  • Labor: Let me go look for it. It costs time and money to look for a missing asset.
  • Shrinkage: I can’t find it so I’ll order a new one.
  • Hoarding: I don’t want to have this happen again so I’ll order more or just hide the ones I have so others can’t use them.

Using Intelleflex XC3 Technology and Supply Insights rPlatform™ suite of solutions, the company is able to help its customers more efficiently monitor and manage their valuable (and all too often highly mobile) assets.  The result is reduced labor and purchasing costs, better asset utilization and a more informed management team.

You can learn more about this by clicking here to view a SlideShare presentation on their solution suite.

View the Supply Insight SlideShare

Here’s hoping your assets are safe for the holidays!


Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

Cold Chain ≠ Arrested Development

Netflix gave me an idea when they announced they were resurrecting one of my favorite TV shows.  As I had the pleasure of speaking at an Expeditors International seminar last week about temperature monitoring in the health care cold chain, I decided to tie the theme of my presentation to the soon to be continuing perils of the Bluth Family so well chronicled in the show “Arrested Development”.  The foundation for my presentation was that the cold chain of tomorrow is a very different one from today.  There are a number of changes that are dramatically impacting the industry including:

  • The increasing number of off-patent drugs
  • Increase in the volume and value of biologics
  • The shift to using 3PLs
  • Increasing climate instability making summer/winter packaging riskier
  • The disappearance of wide body aircraft on domestic flights limiting use of active refrigerated containers
  • ePedigree, serialization and inference
  • RFID proven safe for biologics

The impact of these changes will require healthcare manufacturers (both for biologics and even medical equipment) to rethink their cold chains. Even when routes are validated and procedures are in place, what can you do to ensure that temperature sensitive products are safe for use when delivered?  To quote a famous American president:

Trust but Verify

Yes.  Trust but verify.  It’s one thing to trust your supply chain but it’s equally critical to verify that the products have been properly handled as they move from manufacturer to the customer.  ISO Class 3 RFID provides this capability.  Because it can be read through containers without opening or unpacking (helping to document authenticity) and provides a complete temperature and way point history, Class 3 RFID tags (like XC3 Technology) make it easier to implement a solution that helps manufacturers and 3PLs to manage – not just monitor – their cold chains.

The health care and pharma cold chain should utilize new technologies to address new cold chain dynamics.  Doing so will prevent “Arrested Development” for the cold chain and, to quote one of the show’s characters, prevent you from “making a huge mistake”.

To view the presentation on SlideShare, please click here.
Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

From NPR: Tissue Tracking and Health Risks

During my drive to the office this morning I heard an interesting story on NPR’s Morning Edition titled Little Regulation Poses Problems Tracking Tissue.  You can listen to or read the entire story here.  According to the story, each year in the United States, almost 1.5 million medical products are used  for surgeries made with tissue taken from cadavers.  Despite this vast number, fortunately there have been few issues or problems so far associated with using human tissue but, when there is an issue, it can be tricky to catch and the consequences can be life threatening.

1.5 million medical products are used each year for surgeries made with human tissue

The story describes a case where tissue contaminated with Hepatitis C was accidentally distributed for use by patients.  Hospitals had to be alerted and the race was on to find where the tissue had been sent.  The story states: In this case, 44 ligaments, tendons and other donated tissue were sent to hospitals and clinics around the country. Unlike organs, which are quickly transplanted, tissue can be saved and stored for use at a much later date. A month later [Italics are mine], the CDC found 15 people already had been implanted, but didn’t contract the disease. That’s because their tissue was scrubbed with strong chemicals. But there was one infection: A child in Boston received a heart patch, and because heart tissue can be cleaned only lightly, that child contracted Hepatitis C. The child’s current health condition hasn’t been made public.

According to the story, the FDA says it continues to evaluate the need for new regulations and has started requiring tissue banks to do limited tracking but, once the tissue is sold to hospitals, clinics and doctors, it is voluntary for those surgeons to report back what tissue gets transplanted into which patient.  And, as the business grows globally and tissue comes to the U.S. from countries around the world, keeping track of tissue is even harder.

Matthew Kuehnert, a doctor at the CDC whose job it is to protect donated blood, organs and tissue suggests the process of receiving tissue should be similar to buying cereal at the grocery store.  Said Kuehnert, “It has a bar code on it, and it can be tracked back if there is some sort of problem with it in terms of quality,” he says. “You can’t do that with tissue right now. And that is a gap.”

While I get where Dr. Kuehnert is going with his cereal analogy, I think it comes up a bit short.  Unlike cereal, tissue is temperature sensitive.  You not only need to be able to track where it has come from and where it is going but also monitor and track the condition that it’s been stored in along the way.  If tissue isn’t stored at the right temperature, it can also cause problems that can lead to health implications.  Bar codes can’t monitor for that. Fortunately, RFID temperature sensors can, while also storing the information about the tissue and help improve track and trace capabilities.  You can read about this here.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing