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The Future of Asset Tracking: Combining RFID and GPS Technology

  • Mahesh Tiwari
  • Apr 13, 2023
  • RFID
Future of Asset Tracking

Tracking assets throughout the warehouse and business premises has been a challenging yet most crucial task. One might say it is as crucial as challenging but increasing use of technology in business operations has been a decisive step towards streamlining complex operations including asset tracking.

Bigger the business size, larger the no. of assets that need monitoring. Asset at a business setting could be any product, piece of machinery or individual and keeping tabs on assets throughout is a huge task.  Asset tracking measures, if implemented correctly, can help you with business process optimization, timely delivery of consignments, reports and insights, and even auditing.

At present various technologies are available that are quite useful in various aspects of their implementation. These technologies include use of RFID (radio frequency identification), barcodes, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), UWB (ultra wide band), and GPS (global Positioning system) etc.

Though RFID is a tremendously useful and efficient asset tracking tool as an AIDC, it is only useful for short range tracking needs. On the other hand GPS is a global positioning system that uses satellites for tracking objects and individuals, allowing it to track anything (GPS enabled), anywhere.

What is RFID?

Radio Frequency Identification, in short RFID, is a wireless AIDC tool that can identify products and individuals tagged with an RFID tag, with the help of an RFID readers and antenna.

Technically RFID is short range tracking solutions that uses radio frequency (RF) signals in various ranges , say Low Frequency range (125KHz), High Frequency Range (13.56MHz) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF 860-960MHz) range, to track and trace objects/individuals within a short distance (few Centimeters  for LF and up to 15m for UHF passive RFID).

The RFID technology has been in use since WW2 when England used it to identify allied warcrafts from enemy warcrafts (think about Radar). What makes RFID an efficient tool for asset tracking is that RFID doesn’t need a clear line of sight for tracking assets unlike barcodes.

What is GPS?

GPS is a global positioning system that comes directly under US govt and it is free to use. Originally named as The Navigation System with Timing and Ranging (NAVSTAR), it uses a set of 24 satellites to transmit radio frequency signals to any GPS receiver (say a smartphone) at (1575.42 MHz) and (1227.60 MHz) frequencies. The GPS receiver then converts the satellite’s signals into position, and time estimates for navigation and tracking purposes.

GPS is a highly accurate and efficient tool for asset tracking which many logistics and retail business uses to streamline supply chain.  Pallets or consignments tagged with a GPS tracker or receiver can be tracked throughout the supply chain and provide a comprehensive visibility of assets and asset movement.

Combining RFID and GPS Technology for Asset Tracking

Though RFID and GPS has been in use for asset tracking and navigation purposes, and perform excellent job, both can be combined to enhance the overall visibility of each single asset, big or small at a pretty reasonable cost.  Since various types of RFID tags are available that are used for asset tracking, and the cost of these tags is very less (UHF passive RFID) i.e. 4-5 cents when purchased in bulk, you can tag almost every asset you like and install RFID antennas and RFID readers at crucial intersections throughout the business setting for enhance visibility, it is still not enough for real time asset tracking and asset visibility when assets are on the move, i.e. on the road. This is when GPS trackers can be used in combination.

GPS receivers can be used on large packages or on the vehicle or the entire fleet of vehicles for providing real-time, accurate location and timing of delivery of the consignments. 

The Future of Asset Tracking

At present GPS is a costly affair when it comes to asset tagging. GPS trackers or receivers can be attached to assets and the location of the assets can be monitored on a smartphone or a computer but businesses cannot attach a costly GPS tracker (approx. 10$) on every asset as they can with RFID.

In Future, as the demand for GPS tracker grows and manufacturing costs come down, GPS trackers would be available at a nominal charge, just like what happened with RFID tags. Use of GPS and RFID tags will significantly improve various supply chain problems within the logistics and inventory management industry.

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  • Created on Apr 13, 2023

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