Benefits Of Using IoT Asset Tracking System

IoT technology completely automates asset tracking and management, eliminating manual labor and human errors.

Why Would You Want To Use IoT Asset Tracking System

Why it might make sense for companies to use IoT asset tracking system instead of barcode or QR code scanning solutions.

The main advantage of using IoT asset tracking system is a full automation of the process. IoT asset tracking system does not rely on the company employees to update asset status. Instead, an IoT gateway detects an asset presence, and sends data to the remote cloud software at pre-set time intervals.

As a rule, company employees are a main barrier to the adoption of the asset tracking systems. Non-IoT asset management systems have one thing in common. All of them require someone to perform an action each time he handles company assets. An action can be slow and prone to errors, such as manual data entry in the desktop asset management system. It also can be fast and error-free in the modern asset management systems. These systems require only a QR code scan to update asset status. Yet, each time a company employee needs to do something. If he does not, asset data in the system will be inaccurate.

Unlike other asset management solutions, an IoT asset tracking system does not rely on the company employees at all. Once assets are tagged and IoT gateways are installed, the tracking system works on its own. You always have the correct asset location and movement information. Since the tracking is handled by the devices and not humans, there is much lower probability of an error or mix up.

You can find more info on the IoT asset tracking methods, and how they compare to the traditional asset tracking methods here.

How Does IoT Asset Tracking System Work

What is the driving force behind IoT asset tracking

An IoT asset tracking system relies on the electronic asset tags, most often either BLE beacons or RFID tags. Tags are constantly advertising an asset ID. This number is picked up by an IoT gateway and is sent to the backend software for processing. The software can reside on a local network, or, in most cases on a remote cloud server.

In an optimal situation, an IoT gateway will have a configuration interface and edge data processing capabilities.

IoT Gateways Configuration

You may be able set up various parameters by logging into the gateway or via a cloud software web interface. These parameters may include:

  • a duration of the scan periods
  • how often the data should be sent to the backend software
  • limit distance at which BLE tag is detected
  • edge data processing rules
  • alerts on misplaced assets

Edge Data Processing On IoT Gateways

Edge data processing means that a gateway filters the data and extracts useful information. What info is useful and what can be discarded or batched is defined by the edge data processing rules. A gateway then batches extracted useful info and sends it to a backend software at pre-set time intervals.
For example, in the case of an IoT asset tracking system, it makes no sense to repeatedly send ID numbers of all detected assets. One gateway can process hundreds of assets, and this info in many cases will be repetitive. Instead, it will make sense to process asset data on the gateway, and only send new data to the backend software.
A Bluetooth IoT asset tracking add-on to the QR Inventory software includes a Bluetooth IoT gateway with multiple configuration options and edge data processing.

How Many IoT Gateways You Will Need

The number of IoT gateways that you will need depends on how precisely you want to determine an asset location. Bluetooth IoT gateways can normally detect assets within 100+ meters radius in the open space. If you want to know that asset is at a specific location, or in a specific zone of a large location, one gateway for around 200 meters radius will be good. If you want to know a more precise location, you can install more IoT gateways, and use a triangulation method to map an asset location. You can also limit the distance at which a gateway will detect BLE tag via the gateway set up interface. For example, if you want to detect assets that are passing through the gates, you can limit a scanning range of a gateway at the gates to around 10 meters.

The asset tracking data sent from the IoT gateways are processed by the backend software, and are stored in the central database. Authorized software users can review real time reports on the assets locations and movement history. You also can check a list of all alerts and when the situation was corrected, and analytical reports.

How To Implement An IoT Asset Tracking System

What do you need to invest in terms of time and money in order to implement an IoT asset tracking system

In order to roll out an IoT asset tracking system you will need several components.

Electronic asset tags

All assets that you want to track using IoT technology should have an electronic tag attached to it. The most often used tags are BLE tags, RFID tags or GPS tags. If you plan to track assets in the localized space, you will need to use BLE tags or RFID tags, and an IoT gateway. If you plan to track moving assets you will need to use GPS tags.

IoT gateways

A gateway serves as a bridge between BLE or RFID tags and a backend cloud software. It collects data from the BLE or RFID tags within its scanning range, filters data and sends data to the remote cloud server.
If you are using GPS tags you will not need IoT gateways. GPS tags are capable of sending data to the remote cloud server on their own via cellular connection.

A cloud IoT software

A cloud software residing on a remote server will accept asset tracking data from the gateways or GPS tags. The software will process received data, store them in a central database and produce human readable reports.
Once you have all components of the IoT asset tracking system in your hands, your steps will be:

  • Attach electronic tags to the assets
  • Enter or import assets into the asset management software
  • In case of BLE or RFID tags install IoT gateways in the designated locations
  • Connect gateways to the network
  • Register gateways with the asset management software
  • Set up gateway parameters
  • Do any required cloud software setup

After these steps are done, the IoT asset tracking system will work by itself. As long as the hardware is working correctly you will automatically receive asset tracking data. You will be able to review asset location, movement and utilization reports at any time.

What IoT asset tracking tags should we use?

GPS asset tracking system is fundamentally different from the BLE or RFID based system. GPS tags can determin GPS location of an asset at any given time, and send location data to the remote cloud server without a need for a gateway. GPS tags are also quite expensive, large in size, and each tag requires a monthly subscription plan. GPS asset tracking is mostly used for the large assets that are often on the road and for which you need to track the exact location at all times, no matter where they are. Company vehicle fleet or shipping containers may be good candidates for GPS asset tracking.

For other asset types, BLE or RFID asset tracking are more suitable. BLE and RFID asset tracking methods are comparable. Both BLE and RFID tags are relatively small and inexpensive. The only thing that tags are doing is broadcasting an asset ID. It is a responsibility of a gateway to pick up asset tracking data, process data and send them to a backed cloud software.

How to purchase IoT asset tracking system components

You can purchase all IoT asset tracking system components from one vendor. If you do this you can be sure that all parts of the IoT system are compatible. You also have only one vendor to deal with, which is a big plus.

If you a little bit more technically savvy, you can buy parts of the IoT asset tracking system from different vendors. BLE and RFID tags have standard advertising formats supported by the IoT gateways on the market. You just need to make sure that electronic tags and gateways are compatible.

If you can set up an end point for the cloud software of your choise on an IoT gateway you can combine gateway and software from different vendors. You just need to make sure that an asset management software of your choice can read the data format sent by the gateway.

What Results Do You Get From The IoT Asset Tracking System

IoT asset tracking data and reports - what do you get for your IoT investment

Assets Location

The main thing that you get in every IoT asset tracking system is the current location of the trackable assets. If you are using BLE tags or RFID tags you will get a list of all assets within the gateway reach radius. You can also get a more precise asset location calculated based on the distance from several gateways. With enough gateways you can create a map of assets locations on the shop floor or within the building. If an asset is being moved between locations (e.g. between a warehouse and job sites) you will see when each asset left the warehouse, when it arrived to the job site and which one.

If you are using GPS tracking, you get the GPS location of an asset continuously. You will be able to see where an asset is on the map, and its path.

IoT Asset Tracking System Reports

Along with the current location of the assets, you will get other asset tracking reports. The exact reports depend on the specific IoT asset tracking system. The IoT asset tracking module of the QR Inventory software gives you the following reports, available for review and download.

Current assets location

Shows location of any asset, and list of assets in selected location.

Assets movement history

Check where each asset has been during any time period in the past. You will get dates, times, and number of days and hours at each site. This report gives you a good overview of assets usage, as well as idle vs working periods. You can also use this report for the job site or client billing.

Asset utilization report

Check how many days in total each asset has been at the designated locations during the selected time frame. See at a glance how well company assets are utilized. Use this report for better utilization, rental and purchase plans.

Missing assets report

This report shows all assets that were not detected anywhere during the specified number of hours. It includes date and location where the asset was last seen. Use this report to find out what is missing early. Locate assets before all track is lost.

Misplaced assets report

An IoT asset tracking system allows you to specify which assets should or should not appear at the certain locations. If these rules are violated you receive an instant alert in email. You can also review reports on all past alerts. The report includes date and time when the problem was detected, and date and time when the situation was corrected.

Assets conditions logs

If you are using IoT sensors you will get the reported data in all formats:tabular, graph, or download. You will also be able to set up an acceptable values range for the conditions you are measuring. You will receive an email alert if conditions go out of range. You also will be able to check out past alerts reports.

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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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