Asset Tracking Solutions

We’ve all been through the pain of losing one’s keys or wallet. Time and stress, phoning the bank to cancel cards and then finding them down the sofa. It’s no different when you get an urgent call from a customer needing a generator or a team requiring some traffic management equipment and you going off to try and locate where the temporary traffic lights are near Manchester.

 

Wouldn’t life be great if you knew where everything was all in one place that also updated you as a reminder?

Picture of a large generator on a construction site tagged with a GPS asset tracker

GPS asset trackers and GPS tracking systems

There are a few ways to track assets including QR and RFID tags which we will come on to but the best way to track assets that are on-the-move and from a reach perspective is using a GPS asset tracking solution covering both U.K.and beyond.

GPS asset trackers are placed on the asset you wish to track whether it’s a technical piece of measuring equipment to an industrial generator via a simple magnet self-install. The trackers are:

  • Simple to install.
  • Totally waterproof (IP67).
  • Up to 1yr standby time.
  • Supports wireless charging.

The advantage of GPS asset tracking is that it is the most powerful, able to track on the move and has full coverage anywhere in the world.

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Picture of a GPS satellite for asset tracking

How does GPS asset tracking work?

The Global Positioning System, (GPS) uses a network of orbiting satellites that transmit unique data to a GPS receiver to determine the position of the asset in question which can be seen via our interface using Google maps integration.

No data transmission is needed from the user, so it operates independently of internet or telephone signal and is freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.

By using several satellites designed for GPS asset tracking they can determine exactly where the tracker is. Our asset tracking devices have full coverage from anywhere in the world.

 

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pictuer of a theodolite being used which is tracked by an asset tracking system

Types of asset tracking

The more assets are moved the quicker the trackers will need to be recharged to ensure that the trackers can continue to transmit their location. We track many different types of assets including:

  • Equipment tracking: Track the location of your heavy-duty equipment such as loaders, cranes, bulldozers and excavators.
  • Trailer tracking: No matter where your containers are transferred, monitor every trailer in your fleet from your office or on the go through the RAM Tracking mobile app.
  • High-value asset tracking: Get peace of mind that the right tools are at the right site when they’re needed.

Other types of asset tracking not provided by RAM Tracking

woman scanning a barcode tracking a n asset

RFID asset tracking

RAM Tracking specialises in only GPS asset tracking however there is another type of asset tracking used for internal spaces:

There are two types of RFID tracking systems.

  • Active RFID is where a tag containing a miniature antenna and a Bluetooth chip which “activates” when a reader comes near to contact springing it into life. Once active it will continue to transmit its position until out of range needing a power source of its own.
  • Passive RFID requires a reader to scan its barcode or QR code (similar to ones you might find in a book in a library) and has no battery of its own. The electrons in the RFID stickers begin to flow from the signal which then transmits a high frequency response.
    • QR code inventory tracking generally tends to be the most cost effective of the options for this kind of inventory application but also has its limitations.

Picture of a man going through the warehouse scanning the assets currently housed.

QR code vs active RFID asset tracking

  • Barcodes or QR codes require a line of sight for scanning, whereas an RFID tag can be picked up within its range.
  • Data wise, scanning codes is read only and cannot be changed but with RFID it can be updated in real time.
  • The speed RFID codes can be read is milliseconds to typically half a second per tag.
  • Printed codes are cheap but prone to wear as opposed to a costlier RFID tag that’s protected by a plastic cover.

In both instances the key here is close proximity so if you are looking for warehouse inventory management or monitoring assets within a series of buildings on site then this is very much the right option over GPS tracking systems. If the assets are likely to be moved a distance away or likely to be used over a wider field the GPS asset tracking comes into its own for being able to track all tagged assets very easily and quickly.

image of an RFID tag used for asset tracking

Issues and challenges with RFID tracking systems

RFID issues that tend to crop up the most are to do with collisions:

  • Reader based: Where one reader clashed with another. The solution is a simple anti-collison protocol which makes the tags take turns effectively to the reader in question.
  • Tag based: If there are too many tags transmitting altogether, then choose a reader that only reads tags one at a time. This will fix this issue.

Security is the other main gripe with this system as anyone with a reader can access the tag information. In some businesses or government departments this can be a concern as items can also be potentially tagged with consumer data. RFIDs can come with additional protection such as the ones found in passports however this is an additional expense and can be cost prohibitive if you are tagging thousands of assets within your inventory.

image showing the frequencies of different RFID tracking systems

RFID asset tracking system types

  • Low frequency has the shortest range from a few centimetres to no more than 1.5 metres.
  • High frequency would extend typically to 3 metres
  • Ultra-high frequency can have a reach of up to 6-7 metres
  • Microwave has the longest reach of up to around 10 metres.

The higher the range the more costly the asset tracking system will be.

RAM specialises only in GPS asset tracking as well as vehicle tracking for any kind of commercial vehicle from van tracking and truck tracking to company car tracking too. If you would like a demonstration of our tracking software solutions get in touch.

 

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