Asset location tracking brings competitive advantages

Asset location tracking saves time and money. Companies that are not afraid of digitalization in planning and production processes have clear competitive advantages thanks toasset location tracking. With asset location tracking, construction machinery or transport vehicles can be located and unnecessary downtime avoided. When handling goods transactions, all vehicles in a fleet can be located, the condition of their freight assessed and their arrival time at the destination predicted almost to the minute.

Where Asset Location Tracking is successful

The most widespread use of asset location tracking is therefore in logistics. Sensors on a cargo during transport, for example, collect data on temperature or vibration and thus on the condition of the cargo’s contents. Mobile phone modules can also provide information about vehicle technology. NB-IoT modules enable an energy-efficient variant that is suitable for monitoring predominantly stationary items such as pallets or containers. But the construction industry has also long appreciated the benefits of asset location tracking, not least because it can be used to locate stolen construction machinery or tools. The same applies to the area of vehicle fleet companies.

Asset Location Tracking – a simple system

The system behind Asset Location Tracking is simple: a tag (i.e. a label) is attached to an object and sends out signals. These are received by stationarygateway devices. After the signals have been evaluated by the receiver, they can be accessed online via a browser and an app.

Various technologies have proven their worth

One of the most important tools in this context is GPS, but other tracking systems such asBLE,LoRa orRFID can also be used in asset location tracking. While satellite-based tracking viaGPS tends to be more successful outdoors for reception reasons, tools, products or other sensor-equipped items can be located more reliably using RFID tags, ultra-wideband tags or Bluetooth low-energy tags. These systems are not hindered, for example, by metal walls or underground barriers between the transmitter and stationary receiver or gateway devices.

Software to optimize time and money

To take advantage of the full range of asset location tracking, specialsoftware may be installed. Those who want to keep an eye on their assets around the clock can even opt for mobile apps. Additionally, scan-enabled tags can not only help identify assets, but also link physical objects to information from the database. For example, if asset location tracking software is programmed by fleet management to search for vehicles at specific time intervals, this assistance can be used to create, correct and optimize an accurate movement profile. Relevant sensor data such as fuel level, speed and fuel consumption, among others, contribute to the optimization.

Surveillance of persons makes you liable to prosecution

In German-speaking countries, the collection of personal data is legally excluded. Neither in Germany, nor in Austria or Switzerland is it permitted to subject employees to tracking. Violations can easily occur here, whether unintentional or intentional. This is because if a means of transport moved by people is equipped with a sensor, clear statements about the driver are also made, for example, about driving routes and rest periods. If a tagged, non-functional tool is lying in the cupboard, tracking could be used to investigate who last used this tool and possibly damaged it. Legal problems can only be ruled out if tracking is not used to monitor employees, either directly or indirectly.

Disadvantages of Asset Location Tracking

A complete control consumes really a lot of energy in the permanent transmission of data. Therefore, before using the modules, one should carefully consider how much information is needed in which period of time. Often, location and status data at predefined intervals are sufficient. Nor is it enough to simply collect the data. Evaluating and interpreting it ties up manpower, as does planning optimization measures. And last but not least, digital technologies are always vulnerable to cybercrime. But something can be done about it. At Magility, we are experts in cyber security. Magility Cyber Security GmbH offers customized solutions for protection against cybercrime.

Wattro GmbH – a leading provider of innovative asset location tracking solutions

Wattro GmbH, based in Heidelberg, Germany, offers an innovative software solution for automatic asset management. The flexible system gives companies a simple and straightforward overview of all assets in the field – from the road or from the office. It not only shows exactly where the equipment is, but also what its condition is or when the next safety check is due.

Pius Warken, CEO and founder of Wattro GmbH, answers the most important questions about asset location tracking in our interview:

Q: How can I make it credibly transparent to my employees that I do not draw any conclusions about my employees via the tracking data, for example in delivery traffic?

A: That is a very important point. The purpose of an asset location tracking system is not to indiscriminately collect personal employee data, but to support employees in their everyday tasks. This is the only way to ensure that the system is quickly accepted and sustainably integrated, while at the same time promoting the responsible use of company resources. At Wattro, our asset location tracking system focuses on devices, equipment, tools and measuring devices that are essential for employees to perform their value-added activities.

Here, for example, it is important to know who currently has the equipment I am looking for, or who last used it when a defect has been reported. The user’s personal movement profile, on the other hand, is not important. This data is aggregated and anonymized.

Q: At what company size is asset tracking worthwhile?

A: That depends on two key factors: The number of devices and the number of employees using them. Asset-intensive industries such as construction, maintenance, facility management, or engineering and testing use an above-average number of devices per employee, and business success depends directly on the availability and readiness of these devices. The issue is even more pressing when multiple employees have access to and share assets, especially when it comes to expensive and high-maintenance measuring equipment and machines. As a rough guideline, one could say that companies with more than 20 employees in the above-mentioned industries benefit immediately from a well thought-out asset tracking system that is suitable for the application.

Q: How vulnerable are asset location tracking systems to cybercrime, and what is the best way to protect yourself?

A: The issue of cyber security must of course be given high priority in asset tracking systems – as a sub-sector of the Internet of Things (IoT). In principle, however, there is no higher vulnerability for asset location tracking systems compared to other applications in the IoT. Modern cloud systems with professional hosting often meet higher security standards than locally managed systems, especially when internal IT resources are limited. Caution is advised when active tags from third-party providers are used, which means that the tracking system provider is no longer 100% in control of security. Otherwise, the main thing is to close the typical gateways for cyber attacks: strong password security of personal accounts, ideally with two-factor authentication, SSH-encrypted network protocols for asset management and gateways.

Q: How costly is asset location tracking?

A: First, of course, the most important thing is that an asset location tracking system is economically viable. The benefits must be significantly greater than the system costs. Here, it’s not just the initial cost of the assets that needs to be considered, but more importantly the operating costs, such as wasted labor time searching for equipment, lost work when equipment malfunctions or simply disappears, and inefficient maintenance, repair and documentation processes. Very quickly, enormous liability risks can also arise if a lack of transparency leads to non-compliance with legal testing regulations or the use of untested equipment. At Wattro, we primarily rely on battery-free technologies. In addition to the important ecological aspects, this eliminates the maintenance effort for battery changes, which significantly reduces system costs and makes the system very flexible and applicable to any physical object.

Q: Does asset location tracking also work across borders?

A: Yes, because thanks to state-of-the-art technologies such as RFID, GPS or optical identification (e.g. QR codes), it is possible to track assets worldwide. These technologies make it possible to capture information and data in real time, regardless of where it is located. Moreover, by using cloud systems, the captured data can be accessed from anywhere at any time. The only limit may be certain rules or regulations on access rights to the network in different countries.

We would like to thank Pius Warken for the impulse interview and look forward to learning more about Wattro’s day-to-day practice and diving deeper into the topic of device tracking with the help of application examples.

We at magility will be happy to advise you or put you in touch with the right contact person – whether you are planning to integrate asset tracking into your company or you would first like to learn more about it. Contact us right here.