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RFID, BLE and GPS: which is the most suitable for Intelligent vehicle tracking at low costs?

  • Mahesh Tiwari
  • May 08, 2023
  • RFID

Not knowing where you vehicle and delivery consignment is at any given time or waiting for your bus to arrive at time at a local bus stop, both are the problems that people in most developing countries often face. Even though various Internet of Things (IoT) and other technological solutions like UWB and GPS are available, most often than not people don’t use it as it will increase the cost of running the operations. Cost is a big deciding factor whether people will use any technology. Most people in warehouse management, logistics and transportation operate many vehicles and to invest in vehicle tracking and real-time updates on estimated time of arrival (ETA) would cost a lot of money, at least that is what people believe but this is 2023 and many IoT based solutions are available that can solve this problem.

Use of Radio Frequency Identification, BLE and GPS can be the possible answer. Let’s see which technology solution is a cost effective measure to implement real time vehicle tracking.

RFID and vehicle tracking

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a wireless communication technology that is used for various applications. The technology employs an RFID tag, an RFID reader and an RF sub system like computer to operate and capture the real-time data. To use RFID, you can attach an UHF passive RFID tag (most cost effective RFID tag with good read range) to the vehicle and employ RFID readers at selected locations throughout the targeted route of the vehicle you wish to monitor. Whenever the vehicle passes through a stop with RFID reader installed, the RFID reader will read the tag and send the data encoded in the tag such as vehicle no., time of arrival, stopping time etc. to the RF sub system aka a computer. The computer can compile all such data and generate a real-time monitoring parameter and send that to the end users.

RFID technology can enhance visibility in vehicle monitoring in several ways. 

• RFID-based vehicle monitoring systems can provide a database for all registered vehicles using an RFID module, send SMS notifications to the database using a GSM module, and integrate a barrier gate using a servo motor.

• RFID vehicle tracking solutions can accurately track a fleet and vehicles in real-time to increase control, efficiency, safety, and compliance.

• RFID tags can be mounted on vehicles and associated assets such as trailers, containers, returnable items, and valuable inventory to improve product visibility and availability.

Here are some reasons why RFID might be preferred for vehicle tracking.

1. RFID technology can be used to track assets and manage inventory in real-time.

2. RFID tags are attached to assets and read by RFID readers to accurately track the location and status of assets.

3. RFID tracking helps to track work orders at every stage of the manufacturing process and enables to track the movement of raw materials and products throughout the supply chain.

4. RFID helps businesses to complete inventory audits 10x faster, improve asset utilization, and improve efficiency.

5. RFID tags have a limited amount of data storage compared to BLE devices, which can be an advantage in certain applications.

BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) for real-time vehicle tracking

BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is a radio-frequency technology for wireless communication that can be leveraged to detect and track the location of people, devices, and assets for many indoor positioning use cases - including asset tracking, indoor navigation, proximity services and more. But that is not all, BLE can also be used for outdoor applications as well, especially for a cost-effective vehicle tracking.

So, what is BLE?

BLE is a wireless technology that was developed over the Bluetooth specification when Bluetooth 4.0 was released in 2010. The reason why it is very popular is the fact that it is a low power consuming and low cost tracking device. It’s easy to connect and comes with low latency.

To use BLE beacons for real-time vehicle tracking, just like RFID, you can tag vehicles with BLE beacon and install low cost computers like smartphones or raspberry Pi at designated stops to receive BLE beacon data from the vehicle stopping at the stops. This real-time data can be used to compile a report and forecast real-time arrival of vehicle at any particular location, at a low cost.

Here are Some Benefits of Using BLE for Vehicle Tracking.

• BLE technology helps owners and managers to monitor the vehicles entering and leaving the factory premise and have visibility of the vehicles throughout different processes while they are inside the premises.

• BLE beacon-based vehicle tracking solutions can help manufacturers achieve cost-saving and increase efficiency in their warehouses.

•  In long term uses, BLE asset tracking results in high ROI. 

Global Positioning System (GPS) for Tracking Vehicles in Real-Time

GPS is another technological solution that can provide real-time vehicle tracking with simple implementation. 

GPS is short for Global Positioning System and can provide real-time data on vehicle location and movement. The GPS system uses a set of 27 satellites of which 3 are for back up and rest 24 orbit the earth for accurate positioning of GPS tagged vehicles or individuals or assets.

A GPS tracker consists of a receiver and a radio/transceiver, which could be a smartphone. It receives signals from the satellites to position itself with respect to the satellites and that data can be displayed through maps/navigation system on the smartphone.

GPS is easier to install than RFID as it doesn’t require elaborate hardware installations and can be accurate up to 5m but RFID provides more accurate data about the vehicle and is cost-effective in short term.

From all three solutions mentioned above the BLE and GPS require less implementation hardware and are particularly beneficial for long term uses. Both can be implemented using smartphone/similar devices whereas RFID tags are inexpensive but RFID reader costs are high as of now. Installing RFID readers at various selected locations can be a costly affair. So, whether you implement RFID, BLE or GPS for real-time vehicle tracking, it all depends on the short term and long term tracking needs and budget.

  • Last updated on May 09, 2023
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