Diligent record-keeping is at the heart of efficient asset tracking, but the requirements and benefits are not yet widely understood, addressed and realized. Few operators maintain up-to-date documentation with detailed information about hardware and software versions. As devices become more interconnected and their life cycles get shorter, accurate documentation will grow in importance.
Keeping track of repairs is essential for identifying chronically faulty equipment or abusive operators. A simple spreadsheet may be sufficient, although a specialized and sophisticated asset tracker application can control work in the shop, ownership, maintenance schedules, programming upgrades, inventory checks, installation and structural maintenance. You can set it up for asset management reporting, and make departments responsible for their assets and control access.
Tracking network devices and subsystems
Most radio system owners rely on their radio equipment vendors in this area. This works well as long as you have a good vendor relationship. In a standards-based P25 system where equipment may come from different vendors, you should create and maintain a centralized, unified database for all network elements.
Tracking subscriber equipment
Maintaining subscriber information is important for day-to-day operations and for future planning, so it is easy to justify the cost/benefit for asset tracking tools.
Few systems have formal asset tracking processes for subscriber equipment. This is hard to understand, given that radios are expensive, and those who use asset tracking tools are so enthusiastic about their value.
Of course any database relies on accurate input, and it is common for record keeping to deteriorate over time. For the best results, you should purchase the best tool you can afford, and use it consistently, but even a basic spreadsheet or database is better than nothing at all.
Publicly-funded projects often demand that you track any item worth more than $100. Good processes will mean fewer unpleasant surprises at audit, and give you solid information when upgrading or replacing your system in the future. Here are some guidelines.
- Delegate responsibility for keeping track of information to one person.
- Use maintenance records to track assets, and to assess reliability for replacement purposes.
- Control access for accountability
- Outsourcing maintenance services can compromise recording of system information. Establish clear, common processes with support partners.
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