IoT-Enabled Asset Tracking Is Driving Business Innovation, by Michael Lemm

Published on

This week’s opinion piece is answered by Michael Lemm. Michael is the owner of FreedomFire Communications, the author of the Broadband Nation blog, and a retired U.S. Navy officer.

Knowing the location and monitoring the health of your most valuable assets is critical to business operations. Thanks to Internet of Things (IoT) technology, remote tracking of everything from heavy equipment to fleets to luggage, patients, pets and kids can reduce risk, minimize inventory, save money and create new revenue streams for businesses, in addition to making life easier for consumers.

IoT-enabled asset tracking is playing a greater role in the modern economy than ever before. A recent study found that an estimated $1.9 trillion of economic value could be created by the use of IoT devices and asset tracking solutions in the global supply chain and logistics sector. But in order to compete for a piece of this emerging, profitable market, you’ll need to know which IoT technology will benefit your asset tracking application and how to build a system that works seamlessly within your existing business model. By building a flexible, customized tracking system, you can reap the benefits of asset tracking without having to make significant changes to your business, saving you both time and money. A number of industries have adopted IoT-enabled asset tracking already, paving the way for the creation of new business opportunities and more efficient operations.

Industries That Rely on IoT-enabled Asset Tracking IoT-enabled asset tracking can benefit more than just fleet managers or tracking-focused products. The following industries have had immense success and are continually innovating and adding new applications:

Each of these industries uses tracking solutions differently, but they all have something in common: they use wireless technology to get reliable data that they can use to provide valuable services related to the asset’s supply, or asset’s usage. By customizing their tracking solutions to meet the unique needs of their customers and their industries, these businesses can leverage more competitive advantages because they have all the data that they need to make intelligent—and fast—decisions. IoT-enabled asset tracking can be used broadly to engage new customers and improve business operations.

Creating New Business Opportunities

Today’s customers expect reliable, efficient tracking features for nearly all their connected devices, even those that serve another purpose. For instance, a child’s walkie-talkie will be more appealing to parents if the device includes an embedded GNSS tracker that tells parents where their children are located. Likewise for a dog collar that can perform heath checks and pin-point a beloved pet’s location if he goes missing.

Using the latest cellular modules and Smart SIM cards, it’s easy to include worldwide connectivity as an add-on to an existing device, enabling new business models based on usage and not anymore based on ownership. A rail wagon equipped with a tracker can be sold as a service (lease on distance and time basis). Standard Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies make cellular connectivity ideal for these types of solutions because they can deliver the key 3C’s (low Cost, broad Coverage and low power Consumption). Even if your business isn’t centered around tracking technology, you can still use it to improve your product. A bicycle manufacturer might embed a small tracking module into the frame of the bike that customers can use to locate it if it’s stolen. By offering these tracking options to your customers, your product stands out against the competition.

Improving Business Operations

Beyond attracting more customers, IoT-enabled asset tracking can also improve the way your business works on a daily basis. Here are just a few benefits to IoT tracking that could save you time and allow your business to operate more smoothly:

Cost Reduction: You can embed trackers into your products or shipping containers to avoid losing shipments, minimize inventory and invoice accurately for Demurrage & Detention. If an item is lost or stolen, you can immediately see where it’s located, allowing you to recover it. This saves replacement costs and time spent tracking the items down by phone or in-person.

Faster Response Times: You can set up notifications for major events and respond to them quickly. For instance, a tracking device would notify you that one of the vehicles in your fleet hasn’t reached its destination on time, allowing you to immediately contact the driver and the intended recipient to work out a solution. You can even monitor whether your assets are used properly and take appropriate action if needed.

Streamlined Operations: IoT-enabled asset tracking allows you to manage thousands of assets around the world from just one location. You can also reroute vehicle fleets, recall defective products or replenish new supplies to customers on the fly. And last but not least, you can plan maintenance when needed: no need to plan maintenance on a wagon, if you are aware that the wagon has not been used over a long distance.

More Detailed Data: How often do your customers use a certain feature on your device? Is the solar panel on your outdoor light working properly? How much time did it take to get your product to your distributor? Normally, these statistics would be difficult to track, but when you use IoT-enabled asset tracking, you can do so automatically. Insight into data like this could help you find areas where you can cut costs or improve your product.

Building Your Tracking System

IoT-enabled tracking will have a positive impact on your business operations, but designing an effective solution doesn’t have to be a challenge.

Your solution can be customized to your needs. A local farmer might need reliable connectivity in rural areas for his livestock’s tracking collars, whereas a luggage tracking company needs global connectivity to track their devices anywhere in the world. That’s why it’s important to have the power to pick and choose the right technology that you need for your tracking system and use products that are purpose-built for the IoT. The components of your solution should include:

Embedded Wireless Modules with integrated GNSS: Connect an existing device by adding a wireless module or gateway.

Smart SIMs: Embed a SIM card into the tracking device to ensure you have resilient global connectivity and superior data service quality everywhere your tracking device goes.

AirVantage® Platform: Build and deploy complete IoT tracking solutions. Connect all your devices to the cloud to keep your service running, manage your data and track locations, delivering an amazing, always-on user experience to your customers.

Hopefully You Attended the Expert Panel Webinar, "How IoT Enables the Tracking of Assets", back in October 5th, 2017 to learn more.

Like this article? Check out our most recent interview with Morey Haber.

Join 34,209 IT professionals who already have a head start

Network with the biggest names in IT and gain instant access to all of our exclusive content for free.

Get Started Now