Wireless protocols for IoT based asset tracking solutions

Ankur Gohel of Volansys Technologies

In the first part, we discussed the purpose of the asset tracking system. In this part Ankur Gohel, IoT expert, Volansys Technologies is going to get in the details of the wireless protocol getting selected to create the Asset Tracking solution with the impacting parameters on selection. We will also talk about widely used industry applications and how it benefits the industry.

How to select the right wireless protocol for asset tracking system?

Wireless protocol selection plays a major role in the entire asset tracking system designing. The selection of the protocol will entirely depend on the type of industrial applications to be designed. Depending upon the protocol selection, the type of tag, router, hub and other infrastructure related to cloud and app are required accordingly.

Here are some of the Personal Area Network protocol (PAN) for utilising for short effective range application up to 100mtr: BLE, Zigbee, Z-wave, and Wi-Fi and some of the Wide Area Network (WAN) protocols are Wi-Fi, LTE Cellular, LPWA (LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, Sigfox, and more.) which can provide effective application range up too few Kilometers. Following are the critical parameter for the selection of the wireless protocol requirement to make it affordable, scalable and efficient according to industry needs.

  • Open Source/Proprietary Protocol
  • Effective Radio Distance/Data Rate
  • Network Deployment Models
  • Security Features Supported
  • Silicon Vendor Availability
  • Operating Frequency Band

Comparison of Widely Accepted Personal Area Network (PAN) Protocol
Comparison of Widely Accepted Wide Area Network (WAN) Protocol

Widely accepted IoT based asset tracking industry applications:

Any industry application that requires improvement in workflow, loss prevention of assets, service quality and productivity, would prefer to implement these kinds of tracking solutions. Depending on budget and ROI of the solution, the customer would choose between traditional RFID solution and latest IoT based asset tracking solution. Here we will be focusing on some of the critical IoT based Asset tracking solutions successfully implemented in various industries and helped those industries to improve tremendously.

Based on the application requirement is indoor or outdoor there will be many structural changes at the solution designing level. For example, for outdoor applications GPS can give location with acceptable accuracy but when we need to identify the location in the locality in the building where the GPS signal is not good at that time, we must use special BLE functions like Angle of Arrival (AOA) and Angle of Departure (AOD) to identify the location of the device. AoA and AoD are different techniques.

In AoD, the receiving device can calculate its own position in space using angles from multiple beacons and their positions (by triangulation). In AoA, the receiving device tracks arrival angles for individual objects. Using these technologies, we can get 0.5 m location accuracy even for indoor application. This kind of improvisation can be useful in many such following industry applications.

Manufacturing industry (Smart manufacturing management, smart inventory management)

Manufacturing automation is one of the key aspects of today’s manufacturing processes optimisation. Starting from raw material to final products, the asset is tracked at each stage to build a more efficient and productive system. Apart from the traditional asset tracking solutions using Barcode and RFID, solutions based on BLE beacons and Zigbee tags are getting more and more popular. These systems for moving assets can be better utilised for asset flow and material management. Integrating the asset tracking and inventory management system, companies are updating their inventory in real time to avoid any unwanted situation

Transportation and logistics

Since the inception of the asset tracking solution, logistics and transportation segments are the most benefited and has become the prevalent use of such solutions. Vehicle tracking, courier/bag tracking, pallet tracking, smart parking, supply chain facilities are the key areas, where the benefit is well received. Using Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, and LPWAN, many successful solutions have been deployed in different applications. Most of the applications are built around the remote asset tracking solution, proactive maintenance system, real-time fleet maintenance system, warehouse capacity optimisation solution and route optimisation solution.

Healthcare industry

Healthcare industry is utilising the IoT asset tracking solutions for their high-value equipment tracking to optimise the usage, prevention of theft, and improve timely availability. Also, solutions are built to track human asset inside the premise to improve patient care and prevent any unwanted situations. Mostly these solutions are built using short-range protocol BLE, Zigbee, Z-Wave and Wi-Fi based solutions. Integration of wearables, smart tags, and mobile phone applications are a key component of these solutions.

Retail industry

Typically, the asset tracking solution in the retail industry is implemented to prevent loss of assets and to prevent unauthorised access in a certain critical area. But it can also be used to improve the customer experience with some level of automation on the billing process. The store inventory management is the most effective application of IoT based asset tracking solutions to utilise floor space most effectively, keep live inventory track, and improve productivity.

The author of this blog is Ankur Gohel, IoT expert, Volansys Technologies

About the author

Ankur is Working with Volansys Technologies as an IoT expert (Embedded Engineer). He has a very rich experience of around 8+ years in the IoT domain. He has been a key contributor in designing solutions. His area of expertise is selecting the best suitable RF-based connectivity and selecting the appropriate cloud according to the different industrial applications.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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