Having the ability to track exactly where any mobile asset is in the entire supply chain is particularly useful when looking for items that have been stolen or lost. The Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to create a more efficient and agile network to support mobile asset tracking, thereby delivering a wide range of business benefits, writes Benoît Tournier, the marketing director for Mobile IoT Solutions at Sierra Wireless.
In the US alone, cargo theft is estimated by the FBI to cost more than $30 billion a year, with even a small improvement on this figure potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. However, asset tracking isn’t just about eliminating theft and enabling recovery; by improving inventory management, companies can reduce the amount of stock laying idle, thereby lowering the working capital required. In addition, the ability to synchronise all trucks and train shipments to ensure they arrive in the correct time window to allow them to be unloaded with minimal downtime has significant value to add.
Traditionally, it has been difficult to track assets indoors because there is no view to the sky to enable GPS to work. This is now changing as several new technologies come to market. For example, geolocation can be done via Cell ID positioning rather than just relying on GPS. Low power wide area (LPWA) network technologies can slow the data rates and improve trackers’ sensitivity so an asset will not lose connectivity even if indoors or in an area with low network coverage. LPWA can be complimentary to other approaches such as Wi-Fi positioning system (WPS) or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices, which also determine the trackers’ location with respect to access points or beacons and enable data transmission with very low power consumption.