We have seen how a business can be transformed by leveraging the Internet of things (IoT) to stay in touch with assets and cargo. Supply chain relationships are improved when partners and customers can get reliable shipment and delivery schedules. Additionally, through knowing precisely where any particular asset is, whether a shipping container, a rail tank car, truck, or seafaring vessel, users can better maximise the value of these assets, and accelerate return on investment (RoI).
Non-stop connectivity is particularly important in relation to the conveyance of hazardous materials or any high-value freight. Additionally, stakeholders responsible for ensuring the integrity, safety and delivery of at-risk or perishable goods in transit all need to know the precise location of their shipments in real-time at every point of its journey. And everyone wants to mitigate against the risk of theft.
Across most of Europe, GSM coverage, including 3G and 4G, is assumed as being fairly ubiquitous. But still, vehicles and the freight they carry often travel through regions of patchy or non-existent GSM signal. For constant reliable connection, satellites are essential. Asset tracking systems that incorporate satellite communications are increasingly recognised for their ability to help users stay in touch with their assets, rain or shine, 24/7.
However, tracking and monitoring assets and freight in unpowered environments is a major challenge. Hybrid solutions which combine GSM with satellite technology help solve this problem.
Systems which can automatically switch between GSM signals and satellites in space, dependent on location, deliver least-cost routing. But they also help economise on energy consumption. If an asset is tracked using a GSM-only solution, whenever that asset moves beyond the reach of the GSM mobile network, battery power can be quickly used up through the system’s desperate, yet fruitless, search for a viable signal.
But we are on the brink of a technological breakthrough that is set to revolutionise the effectiveness, and economics, of asset tracking solutions.
Through the development of new asset tracking and monitoring systems which use solar power, the business benefits of IoT and satellite communications will be within reach of a far greater number of organisations.
Today’s state-of-the-art battery technology already means that tracking devices can last for many months without the need for inspection or recharging. But by developing a new generation of solutions which use the Sun as a power source, we can envisage five or more years elapsing before a device needs servicing or a recharge.
Such a low maintenance solution will re-write the financials of the system. The anticipated decrease in operating costs over the lifetime of a solar-powered device will mean that this always-on tracking capability will be available to a much greater number and diversity of organisations.
Price competition today in asset tracking is fierce. To be able to offer a solution free of the need for regular checks and recharges will have a transformative effect on the logistics industry.
Business operations can be more efficient and operational costs can be even more powerfully optimised.
Solar power will mean a step change in the economics of logistics. For many would-be users, it will have a dramatic positive impact on the bottom line.
Visit Globalstar at Intermodal Europe 2017, 28-30 November, 2017, Rai, Amsterdam, Stand number G60. Read more insights from Corry Brennan at http://www.intermodal-events.com/intermodal-europe-conference-2017/speaker-interviews-and-thoughts-vmtg/speaker-interview-corry-brennan