Smart IoT Asset & Inventory Tracking Software Based On Bluetooth Technology

Bluetooth low energy (BLE) IoT technology takes asset tracking and inventory management automation to the next level. Use BLE beacon tags, a smartphone or a Bluetooth gateway, and a QR Inventory cloud software for a completely automated asset tracking system. Process assets and inventory transactions in seconds in the QR Inventory mobile application, or use a Bluetooth gateway for automated assets monitoring.

How You Can Use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) For Smart Inventory And Asset Management

Bluetooth IoT technology gives you several ways of tracking assets and inventory. You can use BLE beacon tags for the fast bulk scanning with a smartphone application, or continuously monitor assets with a smartphone or Bluetooth gateway. Unlike other IoT asset tracking technologies (RFID, GPS) Bluetooth asset tracking requires minimal hardware purchases. You will be able to use smartphones or tablets running iOS or Android for the field inventory and asset tracking. A smartphone can play a role of a scannr or a gateway for the assets and inventory labeled with the BLE beacon tags. A mobile application will transfer data to the backend asset management software, eliminating a need for the gateways and special scanners.

How Does Bluetooth IoT Inventory And Asset Tracking Work

Bluetooth IoT asset tracking system relies on the BLE beacon tags to identify assets and inventory. BLE beacons broadcast an asset or inventory identifier, similarly to the RFID or NFC tags. An asset ID is picked up by the bluetooth gateway. That gateway can be a smartphone or a dedicated device. Bluetooth gateway passes asset identifier to the cloud asset management software for processing. BLE beacon tags have a scanning range of tens of meters. Therefore, you can scan all assets and inventory that need to be processed in one step, with one click of a button in the asset tracking mobile application.

Depending on your preferences, an asset tracking mobile application can either solicit input from the user, who can fill out all data relevant to the transaction, or automatically send an asset location to the cloud software without any extra data. The asset location can be determined using smartphone GPS service or using BLE beacons triangulation for the indoor assets.



Bluetooth IoT Asset Tracking Options

Bluetooth low energy technology allows you to track asset and inventory in several ways. How you do it in your specific situation depends on several factors:

Here are some of the available options for IoT asset and inventory tracking using Bluetooth technology:




How Do IoT Asset Tracking Methods Compare: Bluetooth vs GPS vs RFID

Which IoT asset tracking technology will work better for you depends on what exactly you are trying to achieve. Bluetooth technology gives you various asset and inventory tracking options - some of the options are comparible to RFID asset and inventory tracking, while other are comparible to GPS asset tracking.

If your goal is to do a fast, bulk scanning of assets and inventory for the processing of inventory transactions by the company employees, then you can use either BLE beacon tags or RFID tags, but not GPS. Bluetooth (BLE beacon) tags will work better for this purpose due to the simple fact that you can use regular smartphones and tablets for processing of the assets and inventory transactions. RFID, on the other hand, requires special readers which are quite expensive. Using smartphones will not only make the IoT asset tracking software less expensive, but will also make it easier for the company employees to adopt and use a new system.

If your goal is automatic asset tracking using fixed receivers / gateways, then Bluetooth low energy and RFID technologies are comparable. It will take about the same time and money to implement either Bluetooth or RFID automatic asset tracking system.

If your goal is to automatically track moving outdoor assets without the use of the fixed receivers or gateways, then you can use either Bluetooth or GPS technologies, but not RFID. Bluetooth technology will require BLE beacon tags on the assets and an employee with a smartphone. A smartphone should have an asset tracking mobile application running in the background. The smartphone with a running application will play the role of the Bluetooth gateway, scanning for the BLE beacon tags and sending information, along with the GPS location to the backend asset tracking software.

GPS tags are self-contained and do not require smartphones and human participation. They have a built-in cellular connection option to send GPS location of an asset to the cloud software automatically at the preset time intervals. Therefore, for the automatic tracking of the outdoor moving assets, GPS may work better. The drawback is that the GPS asset tracking software will cost much more than Bluetooth automatic asset tracking. GPS asset trackers are significantly more expensive than BLE beacon tags, plus you will have to pay a monthly fee for every single asset you plan to track using GPS technology. Therefore GPS tracking is suitable for a relatively small number of very valuable, expensive assets. For the work tools and small equipment Bluetooth option may work better.




Bluetooth IoT Asset Tracking vs QR Codes or NFC

All three technologies (QR codes, NFC, and Bluetooth) allow company employees to track assets and inventory anywhere in real time with a smartphone. The scanning speed and degree of the asset and inventory tracking automation progressively increase from QR codes to NFC to Bluetooth.


The cost of the tags also increases in the same direction: from QR code labels (cents per label) to NFC tags (under a dollar for a tag) to BLE beacon tags (5+ dollars per tag). However, if you routinely move a high volume of assets and inventory between locations investing in the BLE beacon tags is well worth it. It will make inventory and asset tracking much easier and faster for the company employees.



QR Inventory Software: Smart Asset And Inventory Tracking Using Bluetooth (BLE Beacon) Tags

With the QR Inventory software field employees use a smartphone or tablet and a mobile application for the inventory and asset tracking and field data access. You can use any of the asset tracking tags: QR codes, NFC tags, or BLE beacons. You can also mix and match them. For example, you can use BLE beacon tags on assets and QR codes on the materials and supplies. Or you can tag pallets / skids with the BLE beacons, but track what is on the pallet using QR code scanning.

Regardless of which tags and technology you are using, field employees can use a QR Inventory mobile application and QR code, NFC, or Bluetooth (BLE beacons) tags scanning to do their job efficiently.

QR Inventory software provides a seamless link between the field and the office. Office employees have a real-time view of inventory stock, asset location and movements on the office computers. Field employees have immediate access to the assets documentation, drawings, spec sheets, and location on the smartphones. Technicians on the job sites can submit materials, tools and equipment requests through the mobile application, and office employees have immediate access to the request. Mobile forms for recording equipment and tools inspections and maintenance can be passed between the field and the office, as well as between the mobile devices of the field technicians so that each employee fills out his or her part. Office employees can create field work orders and dispatch them to the technicians' smartphones for completion. The list goes on and on.

Bluetooth IoT technology makes the job of the field and warehouse employees faster and easier. It takes inventory and asset management automation to the next level. When moving pallets of inventory a company employee does not need to scan every single asset or inventory item to record the transaction. Instead, he just clicks a button in the mobile application - and all assets and inventory are added to the transaction at once. Bluetooth asset tracking will make a big difference for you if you are routinely moving large quantities of assets and inventory between locations. Some examples may include:



Smart Asset Tracking With BLE Beacons: Business Use Cases

  

Bluetooth Tool Tracking Software

Check work tools in and out in seconds with the BLE beacon tags and a smartphone


Automate tools tracking using Bluetooth low energy technology. Tag work tools with the BLE beacons, and use a smartphone or tablet for the bulk tools check out to the employees or job sites and processing tools returns. Process large batches of tools with one click in the asset tracking mobile application. Access tools location, transactions and usage history, calibration and maintenance reports via the QR Inventory software web dashboard. Give field employees immediate access to the tools spec sheets and operation instructions on a smartphone. Verify that an employee has the right certification before issuing a tool.

QR Inventory software provides complete tools accountability and lifetime tools management. Modern technologies, such as bluetooth, smartphones, mobile applications and the cloud make it easy and fast for the company employees to track, manage and use work tools.


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Bluetooth Construction Inventory Tracking Software

Make construction inventory tracking fast, efficient, and error-free


Use BLE beacon tags and a smartphone for tracking inventory, materials and parts that you order for a construction project. Track construction project inventory as you receive it in the warehouse, store, move to the job site, and use it for a project. Use a smartphone and a mobile application for the bulk scanning of all parts and materials.

Use QR Inventory software to create a complete materials and assets accountability for the construction projects. Always know what materials and parts you ordered for the job, what was delivered and what is outstanding, where inventory is stored, what has been sent to the construction site and when, and what has been used for the project. Modern technologies, such as Bluetooth, smartphones, cloud, and mobile applications allow you to track construction inventory efficiently and error-free, without distracting field and warehouse employees from their main jobs.


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Bluetooth Warehouse Inventory Management Software

Use Bluetooth as an alternative to RFID for the efficient warehouse inventory management


Bluetooth low energy is emerging as a less expensive and more convenient technology than RFID for the warehouse inventory management. Both Bluetooth and RFID technologies allow for the bulk scanning, which makes the warehouse inventory management process fast and error-free. Bluetooth or RFID is preferable to barcodes or QR codes for the large warehouses with high inventory volume flowing in and out daily.

The advantage of the Bluetooth inventory tracking vs RFID inventory tracking is the native Bluetooth support by the devices that people use - smartphones, tablets, and computers. RFID system requires dedicated RFID readers, while inventory tagged with the BLE beacons can be managed with the regular smartphones: Android or iOS. It makes the inventory management system less expensive and easier to use for the warehouse employees.


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Bluetooth Bill Of Materials, WIP Inventory Management For Manufacturing

Use Bluetooth to automate work in progress inventory management and production process tracking for the custom manufacturing projects


Manage work in progress (WIP) inventory, track production process for the manufacturing orders efficiently without a need to constantly scan every single part. Label materials, parts, and components included in the bill of materials for the manufacturing assemblies with the BLE beacon tags as you receive inventory in the warehouse. Once the bill of materials inventory is labeled, track inventory movement through the manufacturing production process automatically using smartphones or stationary Bluetooth low energy (BLE) gateways.

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BLE Tags (BLE Beacons) For Asset And Inventory Tracking

Bluetooth asset tags are bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons that broadcast asset identification number at the regular time intervals. The advertised asset ID is picked up by the Bluetooth receiver, which can be a smartphone, tablet, computer, or a dedicated Bluetooth gateway. The Bluetooth receiver can pick up BLE beacon advertising at a distance of tens of meters (the exact range depends on the specific BLE tag, and is often configurable). This ability gives Bluetooth asset tracking a big advantage as compared to the barcodes, QR codes, or even NFC. Instead of scanning each individual asset, you can bulk scan the whole pallet, skid, or truckload of assets and inventory with one click.

You can use BLE asset tags either for tracking assets by company employees using a smartphone and bulk asset scanning, or for the automatic asset location tracking with a smartphone or fixed Bluetooth gateways.

Physically BLE asset tag is a small lightweight plastic tag, round, square, or rectangular, an inch or two in width and length, and around half an inch or less thick. It is suitable for putting on the small equipment, tools, and other assets, as well as on or inside inventory bins, totes, or boxes. You can attach BLE tags to the assets with a zip tie or screws. Some BLE tags have adhesive on one surface that allows you to stick a tag to the asset. You can also put a BLE tag on or inside a box or bin for tracking small inventory items. Industrial grade BLE tags are rugged and waterproof and are suitable to use on the construction tools and equipment.

BLE tag consists of a chip and a small coin-size battery which usually lasts a year or more, and is sometimes replaceable. If the tag is configurable, you can usually configure advertising interval (how often BLE tag broadcasts asset ID, usually between 10 ms and 10 seconds or more) and Tx power - which is directly related to the distance at which BLE beacon signal can be picked up by a gateway. This configuration will affect the battery life span. A longer advertising interval makes BLE beacon tag less responsive but increases battery life. The same goes for the BLE signal range - if you decrease the distance at which BLE tag signal can be picked up by the gateway from 30 meters to 10 meters, for example, you can double the battery life span.



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QR Inventory and QR Mobile Data are brand names of inventory management and mobile forms software by AHG -- a provider of mobile and cloud-based applications for business. Our unified mobile platform improves business operations efficiency by eliminating manual tasks and physical paperwork, while providing a secure cloud storage for the business records, real time access to business data for all stakeholders, comprehensive data reporting and analytics. Headquartered in beautiful Boise, Idaho, AHG software is used to manage hundreds of millions of dollars annually in inventory and assets.

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