IoT Asset Tracking Software: Using Bluetooth For Asset Management Automation

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 cloud IoT software for an automated asset tracking system. Process assets and inventory transactions in seconds on a smartphone in the mobile application, or use a Bluetooth IoT gateway for an automated assets monitoring.

How You Can Use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) For Automated IoT Asset Tracking

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.

How Does Bluetooth IoT Asset Tracking Work

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.

QR Inventory Software: Assets And Inventory Tracking With BLE Tags, NFC, Or QR Codes

QR Inventory software gives you the option to track assets and inventory with a smartphone, using BLE beacon tags, NFC or QR code tags, or track assets and inventory automatically using BLE tags and a dedicated Bluetooth IoT gateway.

Asset And Inventory Tracking With A Smartphone As An IoT Gateway

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.

  • They can record assets and inventory transactions and submit data to the central database / backend cloud software in real time.
  • They can look up assets and inventory information: asset location, inventory stock, assets documentation and spec sheets, asset maintenance and service history, etc.
  • They can order materials, tools and equipment to the job site, and record deliveries in the mobile application.
  • They can fill out equipment maintenance, service and inspection forms, and other types of field paperwork using mobile forms.

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:

  • Construction: transfer of the work tools, equipment, and materials between the warehouse and the job sites
  • Manufacturing: keeping track of parts and materials for building complex on-demand assemblies, from receiving through staging areas to the assembly building
  • Warehousing: receiving and shipping out assets and inventory, moving inventory within the warehouse

Automatic IoT Asset Tracking Using Bluetooth Gateways

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.

Automatic asset location tracking with a smartphone and a mobile application.

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.

Bluetooth Asset Tracking Vs Other Methods (GPS, RFID, NFC, QR Codes)

There are several asset tracking technologies that you can use. It is important to understand the pros and cons of each technology, and pick the best one for your asset tracking use case.

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 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.

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 tracking automation progressively increase from QR codes to NFC to Bluetooth.

  • QR codes or barcodes asset tracking. You need to locate a QR code label on each asset or inventory item and scan it with a smartphone.
  • NFC asset tracking. You need to scan each asset or inventory item, but you do not need to focus a smartphone camera for each scan. You just need to hold a smartphone within an inch of the NFC tag to scan the asset - so scanning is faster than with the QR codes.
  • Bluetooth asset tracking. With the BLE beacon tags you do not need to scan individual assets or inventory items. You can bulk scan everything on a pallet, skid, or in a truck just by clicking a button in the asset tracking mobile application. BLE beacon tags do not need to be visible and can be inside the packaging or casing.

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.

IoT Asset Tracking Using Bluetooth Technology: 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.

More On BLE Tools Tracking   

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.

More On Bluetooth Construction Inventory Tracking

Bluetooth Warehouse Inventory Management With IoT Based Climate Control

Use Bluetooth as an alternative to RFID for the efficient warehouse inventory management and warehouse climate control with IoT sensors.

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.

For the environmentally sensitive assets and inventory use a network of Bluetooth IoT sensors and BLE gateway for automated warehouse temperature and humidity monitoring.

More On Bluetooth Warehouse Inventory Management

Bluetooth IoT WIP Tracking Software 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.

More On Bluetooth WIP Tracking

Bluetooth IoT Temperature & Humidity Monitoring

Use Bluetooth IoT sensors for the automated temperature and humidity monitoring for environmentally sensitive assets and inventory.

If you are dealing with environmentally sensitive assets and inventory, automatic remote temperature and humidity monitoring will give you a peace of mind. A combination of inventory management with the temperature and humidity monitoring system ensures that sensitive assets and inventory are always stored or transported at the right climate conditions. A system knows the exact location of assets and inventory at any given time, the acceptable temperature and humidity range for the different assets and inventory items, and real temperature and humidity conditions in all zones monitored by the IoT sensors. Unlike stand alone temperature and humidity monitoring systems that only give you conditions for the zones being monitored, a QR Inventory software gives you temperature and humidity logs for all sensitive assets and inventory, based on their locations and movement between locations.

If any asset or inventory item is moved to the zone with adverse climate conditions you get an instant alert. If the temperature or humidity changes and becomes unsafe for any of the assets or inventory currently stored in the affected zone, you get an immediate alert as well. You also have continuous digital temperature and humidity logs to ensure product safety and for the traceability compliance.

More On IoT temperature Humidity Monitoring

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.

More on BLE tags

Bluetooth IoT Edge Gateway

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.

More on Bluetooth IoT Edge Gateway

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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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