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 automatically monitor assets location with a smartphone or Bluetooth IoT gateway. Unlike other IoT asset tracking technologies, such as RFID or GPS, a Bluetooth asset tracking requires minimal hardware purchases. You will be able to use smartphones or tablets running iOS or Android. A smartphone can play a role of a scanner or an IoT gateway for the assets and inventory labeled with the BLE beacon tags. A mobile application will transfer data to the cloud asset management software, eliminating a need for the dedicated gateways and special scanners.
A Bluetooth IoT asset tracking system relies on the BLE beacon tags for assets identification. 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 IoT device. Bluetooth IoT 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 user input.
You can also use a dedicated Bluetooth IoT gateway for a
completly automated asset tracking system that does not require any human participation.
With 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 select, field employees will be able to use a mobile application
for asset and inventory scanning, data recording and real time communication with the backend cloud software.
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 asset 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.
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:
If you do not want to rely on the company employees for processing asset and inventory transactions, or smartphone scanning is not feasible for your business workflow, Bluetooth IoT module of QR Inventory allows you to track assets and inventory automatically using a Bluetooth IoT gateway instead of a smartphone. In addition to the automatic real time assets and inventory tracking, Bluetooth IoT module includes an optional remote temperature and humidity monitoring. If your assets and inventory require a specific temperature / humidity range, and are negatively impacted by the deviation from the acceptable range, use this option to protect assets and inventory from damage or spoilage. You will receive an immediate alert if a sensitive asset or inventory batch is moved to the zone with the conditions outside of the acceptable range, or if the conditions change and become harmful for any of the assets or inventory stored in this zone.
A Bluetooth IoT gateway picks up a signal from the asset BLE tags and / or temperature and humidity sensors within the gateway scanning range, and sends the data to the cloud software via WiFi or cellular connection. An edge IoT gateway which comes with the QR Inventory Bluetooth IoT module reduces the load on the remote cloud server by processing the data locally and batching the data before sending them to the cloud software.
A Bluetooth IoT module includes all
components that you need for the automatic assets and inventory tracking and remote asset conditions monitoring:
You get the reports on the current assets location, assets movement history, assets historic locations and how long they have been there, and a temperature / humidity log for each asset or inventory batch if applicable.
This asset tracking method allows you to continuously monitor GPS location of an asset with a smartphone. Company employees who handle assets will need to have a smartphone in their pocket with the Bluetooth asset tracking mobile application running in the background. A mobile application will be monitoring assets tagged with the BLE beacons, and sending the GPS location of the found assets to the cloud software at preset time intervals. This asset tracking method is available in the mobile data collection module of the QR Inventory software.
Which IoT asset tracking technology will work better for you depends on what exactly you are trying to achieve. Bluetooth low energy gives you various asset 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 scanning. RFID, on the other hand, requires special scanners 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 asset tracking system. Field technicians will be able to use their own smartphones they are already familiar with and know how to use.
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 GPS location to the cloud 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 the 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 trackers. Therefore GPS tracking is suitable for a relatively small number of very valuable, expensive assets. For the work tools and small equipment Bluetooth asset tracking option may work better.
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 tracking automation progressively increase from
QR codes to NFC to Bluetooth.
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.
If you want to track assets automatically without any human participation, you will need a Bluetooth IoT gateway. An IoT gateway will pick up BLE beacon tags broadcasting, format the data and send them to the backend cloud software. Our Bluetooth IoT gateway has edge processing capabilities, and allows for the custom configuration and setting edge processing rules.