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Energy-efficient GPS tracking

In the early 2000s, wearable technology gained mainstream popularity with the introduction of the Bluetooth headset. From that moment on wards, wearable technology became more and more present in our daily lives. 2014 was even labeled “The Year of Wearable Technology” by several media outlets, with activity trackers like Fitbit and Nike+ expanding the industry. Now, what about location and activity tracking for business purposes?

Traditionally, it has always been challenging to track the activity and location of non-powered assets like trailers, containers or manufacturing parts. Until autonomous GPS trackers entered the picture. This new generation of trackers relies on an internal battery for power. In this blog post, we’ll explain how autonomous GPS trackers work and how they can combine a low power consumption and cost with valuable business insights.

Communicating location and usage efficiently

As mentioned, the introduction of autonomous GPS trackers made it possible to track non-powered assets in an energy-efficient way. But why is this the case? Because these trackers use both GPS and the Internet of Things for tracking. Balancing autonomy, battery size, and accurate positioning.

By using the Internet of Things (IoT) you can connect GPS trackers, attached to non-powered assets, to the internet. Making them visible in this way, creates a web of assets that relate to each other. Increasingly, companies from various industries are using IoT and autonomous GPS trackers to operate more efficiently, deliver an enhanced customer experience, and increase their business value.

One of the main differences between, for example, a Fitbit for personal use and a GPS tracker for industrial use, is that GPS trackers use a Low Power Wide Area Network to communicate. An LPWAN is a network using wireless communications to connect devices to the Internet over a very long range. Messages communicated via this network, consist of small data. No pictures, videos or extensive text. Just a limited set of bytes to indicate, for example, that your non-powered asset started moving.

There are several reasons to use an LPWAN for industrial GPS trackers to communicate.

One of the things already mentioned is that it allows you to communicate over a long range. Up to forty kilometers in rural areas and up to ten kilometers in urban zones, depending on the technology. The main benefit of this long-range communication is that you can use public networks. There’s no need to install a network yourself. Secondly, it is optimized for low power consumption. LPWAN transceivers can run on small batteries. This is crucial for non-powered assets that need to be tracked for several years without battery replacement. Lastly, LPWAN protocols are simplified. This leads to a reduced complexity in hardware design and lower device costs.

Devices designed to last many years

Now that we have discussed how GPS trackers can communicate about location and usage, let’s look at the devices. GPS trackers for industrial use have a robust design and are made to last many years in the field.

Typically, they require zero maintenance. The trackers just need to be activated and attached to your non-powered asset. As soon as this is done, the device is ready to start collecting valuable information for your business.

The trackers Sensolus offers can be used to track various types of assets, ranging from trailers to reusable containers to manufacturing parts. For each use case, the tracker will be configured differently. If you want to extend outdoor tracking of your non-powered assets you can use our geo beacons to also trace back your non-powered assets’ location and usage indoors.

If we look at Sensolus’ trackers, energy-efficiency is guaranteed because our trackers communicate via an LPWAN, Sigfox. Furthermore, our trackers will combine different geolocation technologies depending on your business need. The Sensolus trackers rely on dedicated activity detection algorithms to ensure they are only awake when valuable data can be gathered.

Extract valuable insights from asset location & activity

As discussed, the fact that industrial GPS trackers support low power consumption will result in a longer battery lifetime and thus a higher ROI. But how exactly can your business benefit from energy-efficient GPS tracking by connecting your non-powered assets to the Internet of things?

Tracking your non-powered assets means employees no longer have to waste time on searching for missing equipment. Furthermore, you have real-time insights in your inventory which enables you to identify idle stock. In other words, you can improve the allocation of your non-powered assets and start using it as a measurable KPI for your business. Insights in where your assets are, how they are used and how they rotate will also help you implement process improvements.

Being able to accurately track non-powered assets when they are on the move can thus provide you with powerful competitive advantages:

  • Stop wasting time searching for assets
  • Improve inventory management
  • Reduce the amount of idle stock
  • Optimize the allocation of your assets
  • Find back stolen assets


Did this raise your interest in energy-efficient asset tracking? Request a demo with one of our product specialists here.