Asset tracking is strongest when you can monitor your things anywhere in the world. But up until recently, global monitoring simply hasn’t been an option for many worksites. Affordable connectivity is one of the biggest challenges that remote worksites face in the quest for global asset tracking. Without it, many sites have been stuck.
The good news is that things are changing. And recent technological developments are finally coming together to make global asset tracking (even in remote areas) possible. Curious what those changes are? Keep reading to find out.
Development #1: Rise of power-independent options.
Asset tracking in remote areas has had a fatal flaw: it’s a system that requires a stable source of power. And for remote worksites, stable sources of power can be hard to come by. That’s why battery powered asset tracking systems are interesting. They give you the ability to see where your assets are, without complicated wires or a need for a constant source of power. That means your assets can be free to roam, no matter where they are on the planet. Plus, battery-powered asset trackers are easy to install. All you have to do is mount it to the device, turn it on, and you’re done. No complicated integrations. No frustrated teams. Just set it up, then forget about it.
Battery-based asset tracking has another interesting benefit: it means that any asset can be tracked, not just vehicles. Both powered equipment like bulldozers and boats, but also non-powered equipment like cable spools and tanks. So it doesn’t matter what you want to track. You can put the solution on just about anything.
One challenge that battery powered solutions have is that they do run out of power. And, depending on how much data you transmit, and how frequently you transmit it, that battery power can deplete quickly. Battery technology is one of the most exciting innovation fields right now, and researchers around the world are trying to figure out how to make batteries last longer and longer. And companies providing asset tracking solutions are optimising their systems to run as efficiently as possible.
Development #2: Affordable satellite connectivity.
Another innovation that has a big impact on asset tracking and fleet productivity? The fact that satellite-based connectivity is becoming more affordable.
Traditional satellite monitoring has, for years, been too expensive to be practical for most use cases. There are a lot of things that factor into these expenses, including equipment, knowledge needed to build and design satellite systems, and maintenance costs.
Because traditional satellite monitoring is so expensive, many remote worksites default to manual monitoring, where they send people out to the field to monitor or track assets. And this method has obvious downfalls. To start, it’s expensive, and often inefficient for remote worksites. And in a lot of cases it can be dangerous.
If you have to send someone out to a worksite to monitor one thing simply because you can’t get connectivity, it creates a lot of costs. Just ask Salentein, an agricultural conglomerate in Argentina. They had to send people out to farms just to check if there were holes in their silo bags! (Though they eventually installed an affordable satellite-based monitoring system, which you can read about here).
This is all changing though, thanks to newer satellite technologies, the expansion of the private space sector, and decreasing costs of materials. Which ultimately means that satellite is becoming much less expensive to use, even for small-scale use cases. In the coming decade, we’re going to see an explosion of satellite-based businesses across manufacturing, thanks to these developments.
Now, don’t get us wrong. We’re obviously a little biased here, as a satellite connectivity provider. But we do think it’s pretty cool that satellite connectivity is finally becoming more affordable.
Development #3: End-to-end solutions.
Ever just plugged something in, turned it on, and breathed a sigh of relief when it just works the way it’s supposed to? That feeling is about to become way more common at work, even with asset tracking solutions.
A cool new development is coming to the world of manufacturing, and it’s called “end-to-end solutions,” meaning companies provide a complete package for your IoT needs. That includes the hardware you need to attach to an asset. The software you need to see what’s happening with the asset. And the connectivity between the two points.
End-to-end solutions are awesome news, because they make the process of installing and using IoT solutions a whole lot easier. Instead of trying to DIY your IoT by sourcing sensors, building a software solution, and searching for a way to connect them, you can sit back and relax. Seriously. With an end-to-end solution, all you need to do is attach the device, turn it on, and presto! You’re done.
We think end-to-end solutions are so cool, we actually wrote a whole book about them. But the point is that they make life (and digitalisation) a lot easier. You don’t have to hire specialised IT pros to come in and set up a system. You don’t have to hire specialised IT pros to maintain a system. And you don’t have to hire specialised IT pros to interpret the data in your system. Instead, your existing team can do everything by themselves (they are pretty smart, after all).
If that doesn’t sound like a win, we don’t know what is.