IoT Asset Tracking - How Connectivity Enables More Effective Tracking
Asset tracking is one of the most common use cases for IoT-enabled products. Here's what you need to know about building tracking into your products.
What is IoT Asset Tracking?
IoT asset tracking involves using Internet-connected devices—gateways, modules, and GPS/GNSS or other location tracking technologies—to track the location, performance, and condition of mobile assets, vehicles, and equipment.
These IoT devices relay location, performance and condition data via the connectivity technology (cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc) to a cloud, where technicians, managers, and business stakeholders can gain actionable insights and make better business decisions regarding their fleets.
Why You Need to Think “Tracking Plus”
You’ll notice that we said “location, performance, and condition.” That’s because IoT enables much more than purely location tracking. Business stakeholders not only need to know where their assets are, but also what their status is. Being able to remotely control the asset can also be critical in some use cases.
As an OEM or solutions provider that wants to create an asset tracking solution, it’s crucial to ask yourself if your customers need tracking plus remote monitoring, remote control, or any other functionality that will help them achieve their desired outcome.
For example, a vehicle manufacturer building eBikes or eScooters for a ridesharing micromobility fleet might need to think in terms of:
- Tracking plus battery life monitoring at the vehicle and fleet level
- Tracking plus vibration detection that can be used to predict breakdowns
- Tracking plus the ability to remotely control vehicle speed in restricted areas
Location tracking alone won’t solve all of your customers’ problems if they need more. That’s why “tracking plus X” is the right way to think about asset tracking at a high level.
Benefits of Using IoT Technology for Asset Tracking
Reduce Theft and Loss
IoT can enable you or your customers to prevent, detect, and recover stolen or lost equipment with tracking, locking, and alerting capabilities.
Lower Maintenance Costs
Get real time visibility into condition and consumable usage data to drive preventative maintenance initiatives and extend your equipment and vehicles’ useful life.
Prevent Revenue Loss Caused By Downtime
Whether you have vehicles sitting unused due to damage or low power, or remotely deployed equipment in need of repair, asset tracking solutions built with IoT tech can improve operational efficiency and reduce lost revenue due to downtime.
Keep Users Safe
Remotely monitor user behavior to prevent undesired equipment usage, comply with regulations, and alert staff of unsafe equipment before an incident occurs.
Ensure Regulatory Compliance
Asset tracking combined with monitoring and control helps asset owners in regulated industries prove that their assets are not being used illegally or in an unsafe way.
Improve Operational Visibility and Asset Availability
Use asset tracking technology to share availability of assets with users, so they know exactly which assets are available for rental or use.
Common Asset Tracking Technologies
Low-power cellular connectivity options like LTE CAT M1 and LTE CAT1 make cellular connectivity attractive for asset tracking. Managed SIM services give you seamless coverage across wide geographic areas, and cellular connectivity also enables Over-the-Air Updates for IoT product improvement.
GPS relies on satellites to track asset location. GPS tracking offers great accuracy, but runs into issues in urban canyons (narrow streets with tall buildings that block signals) or inside facilities. GPS alone also doesn’t offer remote monitoring or control capabilities.
RFID tags use radio signals to transmit data from the tags to a reader. While they’re generally accurate and cost-effective, and modern active RFID tags can transmit condition data like temperature and humidity, they don’t allow for remote control like cellular-connected IoT does.
Asset tracking solutions that connect via LoRaWAN have the benefit of being low-power, offering ease of set up, and providing coverage across wide geographic areas. LoRaWAN asset tracking solutions offer many of the same benefits as cellular, though if you’re managing high-value assets, cellular will reduce the risk of losing connectivity due to latency.
What Industries Benefit from Better Asset Tracking with IoT?
Micromobility/Light Electric Vehicles
Vehicle OEMs can differentiate their light electric vehicles with IoT-enabled features such as:
- Condition monitoring that enables preventative maintenance
- Battery life monitoring
- Theft prevention capabilities like remote locking and shutdown
- Rider safety features like geofencing and speed control
- Improved rider and vehicle data collection so fleets can provide regulatory agencies with clean and credible mobility data in accordance with standards like the Mobility Data Specification.
- Over-the-Air updates that make it easier to push new software-enabled features to devices in the field, or patch security issues before they lead to negative outcomes.
Learn more about how Particle helps OEMs and operators build better IoT-enabled light electric vehicles.
Industrial Equipment Monitoring
Equipping remotely deployed high-value assets and equipment with IoT asset tracking devices can unlock significant opportunities, such as:
- Prevent equipment theft and loss with connectivity that provides reliable location data even in remote areas.
- Recurring subscription revenue streams for remote monitoring and preventative maintenance capabilities.
- New business models based around a hardware-as-a-service model, rather than one-off equipment sales.
- Consumable monitoring that makes it easy to remotely track and replenish fuel, oil, coolants, and other consumables so your machines are never sitting idle or breaking down.
- Get condition and performance data on machines and peripherals that makes it easy to predict system failures and prioritize maintenance calls to prevent unplanned outages and downtime - all while reducing truck rolls.
Learn more about how Particle makes it easy for OEMs and solutions providers to build an IoT equipment monitoring and tracking solution.
Finding the Best IoT Asset Tracking Solution
Most asset tracking solutions are either off-the-shelf solutions that are fast to deploy but lack configurability, or are platforms and point solutions that require you to handle complex integrations to validate your idea. Here’s why Particle is different.
A Fully Integrated IoT Platform-as-a-Service
The Particle Platform-as-a-Service is integrated into every device we make. All devices come pre-flashed with Particle Device OS and connect to the Particle Cloud as soon as they’re turned on, so you get full-fleet visibility instantly.
Simple and Fast OTA Updates
Particle OTA Services, our Over-the-Air update system, offers one-click OTA updates that can be deployed to a segment of your fleet or your entire fleet. Change product behavior, comply with new regulations, and push security patches instantly.
Accurate, Secure, Actionable Location Services
Particle’s location services come standard with accurate GPS tracking, full GNSS control and publishing of location data, APIs to store and retrieve last known locations, historical routes and associated user data, location fusion, and easy data retrieval from the Particle Cloud for mapping. All data is stored encrypted in a separate database to ensure Privacy Shield and GDPR compliance.
Particle comes fully integrated with fleet diagnostics that let you monitor your devices by region, carrier, partner and radio access technology, so you always know and act on the source of an outage or issue.
"As the world’s first platform offering logistics players smart, light electric vehicles-as-a-service, IoT-enabled asset tracking capabilities are critical to our business. Particle has been a trusted solution provider and a strong partner."
Get Particle IoT Asset Tracking Modules and Gateways
Particle offers multiple tracking solutions that come pre-integrated with the full Particle Platform-as-a-Service and are extensible and configurable to fit nearly any use case. Get started with any one of them for free (up to 100 devices).
A gateway that’s ideal for production solutions, larger assets, and retrofitting.
A cellular module that can be easily embedded into tracking solutions. Ideal for prototyping and production.