How To Select the Best GPS Asset Tracker

Choosing the right asset tracker can be a hard endeavor. Learn how to choose the right asset tracker for your business in this complete blog post.

Jeffrey Lee article author avatarJeffrey LeeJanuary 15, 2021
How To Select the Best GPS Asset Tracker

By 2027, there will be 267 million active GPS asset trackers worldwide for industrial automation, logistics, supply chain, agriculture, construction, mining, and related markets. 

Vehicle asset tracking for fleet management will make up the largest portion until 2024, when it will be surpassed by tracking, locating, and monitoring for other types of assets, including shipping containers, livestock, machinery, equipment, and tools.

Asset trackers provide essential oversight into business operations at a high level. Knowing where your assets are at any given time enables you to keep an eye on expensive equipment and products. GPS Asset trackers also provide valuable data about a company’s supply chain, logistics issues, and operations processes.

As you evaluate whether an asset tracking solution is right for your organization, carefully examine these five features and fundamental capabilities. 

1. Seamless Vehicle System Integration

A connected vehicle connected to a mobile phone

When choosing a GPS asset tracker, integrating with existing vehicle systems and external sensors is essential for easy installation and configuration.

It is important to choose an asset tracker that includes a controller area network (CAN) bus controller and transceiver. CAN allows multiple field devices to communicate with one another, eliminating the need for separate analog and digital inputs for each system device.

This technology is primarily used for vehicle electronic networking, but it is now available for many applications, like railway operations and aerospace. In the medical field, CAN-based systems add integration among operating room equipment. Non-industrial applications include lab equipment, sports cameras, telescopes, automated doors, and small appliances. 

2. Asset Tracking+ Sensor expansion

GPS Asset Tracker Software with sensors

An asset tracker should come with real-time GPS tracking capabilities at the minimum. However, the most competitive devices go well beyond GPS tracking functionality. Buyers should look for a solution that allows them to track additional variables about their assets, like motion, sound levels, weather road conditions, voltage, battery life, and more. 

This is an important feature because you need to know more than your asset’s location to provide a profitable return on investment for your use case. For example, cold chain operators may need to know shipment location while knowing the freezers’ temperature in transit. Construction companies need to track their generators while being able to monitor the voltage of the system wirelessly to make sure it is running correctly.

So when comparing GPS asset tracking solutions, you should look for one that easily allows you to add additional sensors to increase your asset tracking solution’s scope and range. 

3. Asset Tracker Customization and Extensibility

A diagram of how OTA software updates work

Asset trackers need ongoing fine-tuning to stay up-to-date on changing conditions and operational adjustments. When comparing solutions, buyers should look for GPS asset trackers with over-the-air (OTA) software updating capabilities. 

Benefits of OTA Software Updates

Over-the-air software updates refer to the practice of remotely updating the code on a remote embedded device. Asset tracking devices that come with OTA software updates allow users to: 

  • Address and repair bugs and product issues after the sale.
  • Test new features by selectively updating networked devices.
  • Save costs by managing software across a fleet of devices from one seamless interface.
  • Improve the frequency and reliability of updates with no impact on uptime.
  • Improve scalability by adding new features and infrastructure to products after release.

4. Field-ready, open-reference

When looking for an asset tracker, you want to select hardware that can be immediately deployed but can still be fully customized for your specific needs. 

Pay attention to design features that protect assets in a variety of environments. The enclosure design is one element to examine. A rugged, rigid, weatherproof enclosure is a must in rough environments. Check for an industrial embedded SIM for additional protection against extreme environmental conditions. 

Make sure the hardware is fully-certified as well. This will save you time and resources—you won’t have to go through the process of certifying a piece of hardware to meet regulatory and governmental requirements. 

5. GPS Asset Tracker Essential Features

Several asset tracker features can elevate the experience from a limited, out-of-the-box option to a more customized, robust asset tracking solution. 

  • Power management features — Power management features allow you to exercise control over the asset tracking process and uncover energy savings opportunities.
  • An internal measurement unit — Internal measurements add advanced asset oversight and abilities for valuable data collection about assets in motion. A real-time clock (RTC) “watchdog” timer, for example, can detect movement within a device through the use of accelerators and gyroscopes. Valuable information about device behavior can help organizations improve theft prevention and system oversight in general. 
  • Cellular connectivity — Cellular connectivity enables you to track your assets no matter where they are in the world. It is more reliable than Wi-Fi connectivity. 
  • Bluetooth low energy capability — Bluetooth low energy enhances IoT connectivity with lower energy consumption and deployment ease. This technology facilitates infrequent, short-range wireless data communication between monitors, proximity sensors, and other “smart” devices powered by a tiny battery.

5. GPS Asset Tracker Software

GPS Asset Tracker Software

The best asset tracking hardware is limited if the associated software is lacking. While there are many asset tracking software solutions out there, not all of them offer all the features you may need. Companies should look for tracking software that includes:

  • Geolocation mapping services — Every asset tracking software solution should allow you to monitor asset location with real-time geolocation mapping services. 
  • Historical tracking — You should be able to review an asset’s history to suggest optimal routes or increase the accuracy of information needed for business intelligence.
  • Variable monitoring — Most businesses need to know more than the current location of an asset. Look for a software solution that allows you to track additional asset variables such as temperature, motion, vibration, etc. 
  • OTA software updates — As mentioned prior, OTA software updates enable you to send new features and resolve bugs wirelessly. 
  • Cellular connectivity & SIM cards — LTE Cellular connectivity and SIM management should come out of the box when dealing with an asset tracking software solution.
  • Device health dashboards — When asset tracking devices are deployed in the field, they can experience many issues (i.e., they can lose cellular connectivity, have a low battery life, etc.) That’s why you need to look for an asset tracking software solution that enables you to monitor device vitals from a central dashboard. 

Particle makes asset tracking simple

GPS Asset Tracker Software

There are many asset trackers out there that organizations can use. Still, if you’re looking for a simple solution that is field-ready and customizable, Particle offers a unique solution to help simplify your business operations.

The Particle Tracking System is an integrated asset management solution that provides everything you need to monitor your high-value equipment. Our Tracking Services comes with a software suite that is pre-built with geolocation services and configuration capabilities for defining fleet-wide behaviors. 

Our Tracking Services also power our two hardware products (T SoM and Tracker One), which are purpose-built for intelligent asset tracking regardless of the environment.

Particle works with customers across various industries, including supply chain and logistics partners, industrial manufacturing, agriculture, micromobility, and local governments working toward “smart city” solutions. Learn more about how the Particle Tracking solution can empower your organization to achieve more through better asset management. 

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