Asset tracking is one of the most widely deployed Internet of Things (IoT) applications. According to Juniper Research, there will be a 27% increase in asset tracking usage over the next five years, growing from 90 million in 2020 to 114 million by 2025. With this increase, IoT solutions need to enable the efficient and reliable monitoring of assets as they move through the production cycle, and often throughout large warehouses and campuses. Having access to reliable location data is increasingly valuable to production managers, reducing the potential for assets to be misplaced or lost entirely during their journey.
Many industries are investing in smart technologies to replace legacy systems with automated asset management solutions. Legacy asset management systems are often power hungry and require multiple devices, software and services from numerous vendors, resulting in increased complexity and cost.
At the same time, IoT solutions can be expensive or impractical to implement because of the vast area the asset needs to travel. The main difficulty is linking remote sensors wirelessly to the internet across a variety of sites, both indoors and outdoors – even across different countries – in a seamless manner. The ideal wireless solution should be cost efficient, low power and secure, with the ability to work over long distances. By coupling those features with a low cost and lightweight solution with a standardized infrastructure, the result is a reliable tracking solution that allows logistics operators to reduce downtime during transportation.
Creating Smarter Asset Management Solutions
According to a commissioned white paper from ABI Research, “LoRaWAN and Multi-RAN Architecture Connecting the Next Billion IoT Devices,” the LoRaWAN standard is the leading license-exempt low-power wide-area (LPWA) network standard addressing massive IoT adoption – the greatest areas for IoT adoption include asset tracking and logistics.
The following is an excerpt from the ABI Research white paper:
With IoT-based sensors, asset tracking solutions can provide broader visibility into three types of use cases:
- Asset Identification: High-volume package-level tracking of assets using very low-cost either reusable or disposables tags.
- Asset Track and Trace: Includes tracking the location of stationary or slow-moving non-powered assets using battery-powered sensors devices. Smart sensor solutions can also cover where an asset’s geolocation is traced.
- Asset Condition Monitoring: This covers IoT applications that allow for remote monitoring of the condition, status, or health of assets in the field.
Automated asset management solutions can be embedded in to assets, such as pallets, packages, containers and other equipment, to provide better supply chain visibility. Today, most asset trackers accommodate multi-radio architecture that includes short-range wireless protocols like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Wi-Fi for indoor location tracking and provide an interface with smartphones. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for outdoor tracking and WAN technologies such as LoRaWAN are becoming increasingly used for location tracking.
With additional sensors and location data, such as GNSS and network geolocation, asset trackers can be used in track and trace applications for data transmission frequency that ranges from every hour to less than a few minutes of asset trace applications. Device-to-cloud geolocation services further reduce device hardware costs and optimize battery consumption. With solutions like Semtech’s LoRa Edge, which combines Wi-Fi, GNSS and LoRa®, location data is processed in the cloud to provide meter-level location accuracy.
Benefits of LoRa Geolocation
LoRa Edge is a multi-technology geolocation solution that helps supply chain and logistics professionals significantly lower the cost and reduce design complexity of their IoT asset tracking and monitoring solutions. The transceiver utilizes GNSS tracking for outdoor applications and Wi-Fi passive scanning for tracking indoor assets – enabling continuous indoor-outdoor tracking on a single chip. The fact that LoRa Edge can transition between outdoor and indoor activity automatically is a key differentiator in the market, replacing the need to build different trackers for indoor or outdoor use or trackers that combine multiple location methods with a single chipset, reducing complexity and cost.
With these capabilities, geolocation is transforming the way industries handle asset tracking. It is proving to be a very valuable tool to make life easier by enabling the following:
- Increased efficiency and productivity: Traditional asset tracking technology can be challenging for workers, as it requires them to physically monitor each individual pallet with little help. Implementing IoT solutions to monitor assets provides workers with the ability to quickly locate and deploy assets, saving time, fuel, equipment and resources.
- Efficient management and operations: With geolocation and GPS technologies, logistics managers can streamline the workforce needed to track down vehicles, product movements and statistics. With two-way communication, fleet managers can communicate with their team in real time. By streamlining this process, managers can reallocate workers to other departments or more value-added tasks.
- Real time location tracking: Implementing a low power, long range solution into the supply chain allows assets to be tracked throughout all points of the journey. A smart asset tracking solution can simply inform managers of the whereabouts of goods and prevent theft and other losses.
Real-World Use Case
Digital Matter, a leading supplier of GPS and IoT hardware and device management software, leveraged the LoRa Edge asset management platform to develop Yabby Edge, an innovative battery-powered tracking device for indoor/outdoor asset management. The LoRa Edge platform significantly reduces the cost and complexity of IoT asset management in key applications such as pallet and warehouse equipment tracking, inventory and shipment management, trolley, cart and container tracking, medical equipment management, and more.
The Yabby Edge device runs on the LoRaWAN network and features:
- GNSS and Wi-Fi Scanning with Cloud-Based Geolocation
- Game-changing battery life with up to 12 years on only 2 x AAA user-replaceable batteries
- Tracks assets when they’re on the move and enters sleep mode when stationary to save power
- Low cost to support large-scale deployments
Digital Matter was examined three main factors when determining the appropriate geolocation solution – battery life, device size and cost. The Yabby Edge ticked all three boxes with low power consumption and incredible battery life, compact, concealable and ultra-rugged housing and manufactured at a price point that enables large-scale deployments.
Location data can be easily forwarded to any customer platform or system for simple integration and device settings can be configured to fit any tracking application.
With help from LoRa Edge, Digital Matter is helping customers deploy ultra-low power and cost effective solutions in a variety of verticals.
For asset tracking applications, smart sensors with low power and long range capabilities offer the coverage, battery life, deployment ease and cost efficiency that many verticals applications. With advancements in asset management and geolocation technology, companies are now in a better position to harness smart solutions to improve their logistics management.
|Marc Pégulu has been vice president of IoT in the wireless and sensing products group at Semtech since June 2015. He held the position of vice president of wireless and sensing products from June 2014. Prior to this appointment, he held the position of director of marketing and applications. Pégulu joined the Company in March 2006 and was involved in several key technology initiatives, including LoRa wireless and software-defined modem technologies. Prior to joining Semtech, he held positions in chips and systems development at Thomson CSF, Thales, ATMEL and DibCom in France and China. Pégulu holds a Master of Science degree in electronics and telecommunications from Institut National Polytechnique of Grenoble, France, and is a graduate of the Executive MBA program of ESCP Europe.
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