Dr Mohsen Mohseninia, VP of Market Development, Europe at Aeris, explains how asset tracking devices can extend their battery life, delivering significant cost savings.
It’s no secret that asset tracking is a smart market in which to do business, with global growth predicted to reach $32.0B by 2024, growing at 14.9% CAGR according to ResearchAndMarkets. Connectivity developments, greater IoT adoption and the ever-increasing number of assets shipped across the globe, all help to drive wider adoption. Cold chain and Just-in-Time production also make the case for increased asset tracking. For example, with asset tracking, a food manufacturer can constantly monitor cargo conditions, from source to destination, and estimate delivery times accurately.
However, there are a number of challenges that effective asset tracking faces not least the issue of battery power, which is essential in order for a device to regularly transmit information about its location and other variables. Before we look at the issue of battery power in more detail however, it’s important to put it into context of the wider issues involved in transporting an asset from A to B.
One of the main challenges for asset tracking is ensuring constant monitoring while goods are in transit via numerous different modes of transport. Take for example a shipment of food across mainland Europe; the cargo is likely to be transferred via trains, lorries and vans. If you are relying upon tracking information from each different mode of transport to establish the cargo’s location during the journey, then this process is likely to be cumbersome and expensive. This drives the need for tracking devices that are attached to the cargo itself.
If a tracking device is attached to cargo it can continue to transmit data throughout its journey regardless of if it is being transported by lorry, train or van. By attaching a tracking device to an asset, you allow for a more seamless transmission of data. If the tracker has a carrier agnostic SIM installed then it can switch between carriers as it travels, thereby minimising any instances of data outage. Rather than being reliant on one carrier, the device can switch to the best available connectivity option.
Of course, location data is not the only type of information that an asset tracker may be expected to relay. Food is highly sensitive to the conditions in which it is transported, and so regular checks on temperature need to be made. Similarly, some goods may need to be monitored for changes in light or humidity. A pharmaceutical company that is transporting medicine can use an asset tracking device to report on environmental changes in order to help ensure the chemical composition of the medicine is not compromised during transit.
One of the most fundamental issues for effective asset tracking is battery power. If an asset is travelling a long distance and regular readings need to be taken to determine its location, then the strength of battery power is a critical issue. Every time a device runs a GPS location check, this puts a strain on battery life. If you can extend the battery life, you can extend the ability to track the asset more frequently, and for longer.
Suppliers need to ensure they can build a solution that can enable tracking of potentially millions of assets from source to destination without exhausting battery power. Tracking devices can bypass the need for power-draining GPS location checks, through communication with cellular towers and triangulation.
Reducing the power required for a tracking device to reveal its location can extend battery life significantly. This means that a lower powered, more cost effective, battery can be used. The cost of a battery can range from £3 to £30 depending on your requirements. When you consider a battery is typically a third of the cost of the device and the sheer scale of many deployments, such a saving is not inconsequential.
The growth in assets, initiatives and laws are all driving a greater requirement for effective asset tracking. Making asset tracking devices as energy efficient as possible will enable providers to offer more for less, and take advantage of this growing sector.