With the introduction of AirTags to the Apple ecosystem, commercial industries are curious to see if these devices can be used for workplace asset tracking. Depending on the use case, the theoretical answer could be, “Yes.” However, the practical answer is, “No.”
Let’s take a look at four specific use cases comparing and contrasting Apple AirTags to Link Labs AirFinder tags for commercial industry use.
If you are on a construction or warehouse site, you will see a range of heavy equipment from cranes, dozers, and excavators, to skid-steers and more. These business assets can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $800,000. Whether your company has just one heavy equipment vehicle or multiple, monitoring with an asset tracking platform can be a valuable tool. The more heavy equipment companies have, the more critical it is to implement an asset tracking solution to protect the millions of dollars of equipment at your site.
The question is, “Can AirTags be used to track heavy equipment or other large business assets?” The quarter-sized AirTag could be affixed to a piece of machinery relatively easily by placing the tag in a compartment so location can be monitored. Although AirTag does come with the option to purchase accessories, such as keychains, they aren’t compatible with heavy equipment or sturdy enough to withstand a rugged construction or manufacturing atmosphere. Oftentimes, businesses in these industries need to track machinery that moves around quickly and has an asset tag that can withstand industrial use.
Although the “Find My” app is a relatively functional solution for consumer asset tracking, it’s limited in that the AirTag can only be tracked by one person – not an entire team. That said, Apple could enable a functionality that allows AirTag locations to be shared with other iPhones, granted other team members had iPhones, as AirTags can only be tracked with Apple devices.
AirFinder tags have the ability to scale to meet an organization’s specific needs. This includes simultaneously sharing the location of multiple tags to multiple devices. The user can determine location on a web browser via mobile or desktop for both indoor and outdoor asset tracking. This means users have easy-to-use asset tracking software that directs them toward heavy equipment or other critical assets. AirFinder tags also come with environmental-specific mounting brackets that allow users to fixate the tags to a specific piece of equipment. This ensures the tag easily stays put and can withstand more rugged working environments.
Whether or not you work in a warehouse or manufacturing facility, most companies understand the need to track thousands of pieces of inventory. The most streamlined way to track inventory is not by tracking individual items, but by using pallet tracking with mass quantities of a particular item. Even if you only need a small business asset tracking system, each pallet needs to be carefully monitored and accounted for.
Pallets are often moved several times a day, so it’s important to have a powerful battery that lasts. You may be wondering, “How long do AirTag batteries last?” According to Apple, the CR2032 lithium battery used by all AirTags supposedly lasts a whole year before needing replacement. But is this factoring in the tracking of assets several times a day? And would it have enough power for a commercial use case?
The average consumer will only look for lost or misplaced items once every couple of weeks or months, extending the battery to one year. On the other hand, warehouses might use each tag several times per day. Although the CR2032 battery costs as little as 99 cents, the cost would quickly add up if you factor in the number of hours it would take to replace all the batteries and the number of batteries needing to be replaced.
AirFinder tags use either the CR2032 (220mAh) or the CR2477 (1,000 mAh) battery, but Link Labs has patented battery usage technology that reduces energy waste. With this technology, a single tag could track a pallet anywhere from 5 to 7 years. This battery longevity accounts for a single asset being tracked multiple times a day and is perfect for pallet tracking.
Whether an organization needs to track the location of trucks, trains, airplanes, and/or ships, knowing the location of these transportation vehicles is vital to maintaining organizational flow. Today's customers not only want to know when something will arrive but also where in transit it is at any given moment. The only way to supply customers with this kind of transparency is an asset tracking system on each vehicle.
AirTags are capable of outdoor tracking as long as an iPhone is nearby the item and tag. It would not be difficult to place a tag on a truck or other method of transportation, granted the iPhone “Find My” app is enabled with a nearby device due to Apple’s user-based technology but this could be a very expensive solution given the cost of iPhones.
What would happen if there were no iPhones nearby? The company would lose its ability to track assets. Apple’s user-based tracking software is limited in that only one person knows the location of the tagged assets at any given time. This prevents the sharing of information with other people in the supply chain or customers.
This is where the AirFinder Supertag comes into play. Not only will the batteries last for years, but each tag works with Wi-Fi, GPS, Cellular, or BLE when indoors within an AirFinder network. The system has GPS asset tracking, as well as 4 other technologies to combine as the most powerful real-time location system (RTLS solution). This means that you will never lose track of your assets as they make their way across the country. The entire IoT platform constantly updates allowing you to visualize location data in real-time.
Housekeeping is an important role within the hospitality industry. Knowing the exact location of hospitality staff is vital to ensure cleaning schedules are on track. Tags also play a key role in enhancing safety measures within the hospitality industry.
It would be simple to place an AirTag into the pocket of a housekeeping staff member to track their whereabouts. Apple even allows the option to engrave tags, thus every tag could be assigned to a specific person by engraving that person’s name. In this scenario, it would be acceptable to have one iPhone to track the location of all the AirTags or hospitality personnel. The company phone could be left with the hotel manager on staff to visualize employee location.
Although AirTags have BLE, UWB, and other Apple users can update the Find My app to better track location, there is one very frustrating complication with tracking housekeepers. Hotels have many floors. A manager could walk into room 1022, looking for a specific housekeeper, when in reality, she is cleaning room 1122 directly above. So even though the manager is just a few feet away, he or she could spend hours trying to locate the correct room on the correct floor. There is also no functionality that enables users to see if a housekeeper is in danger. The AirTag does not come with an embedded button to trigger a danger signal, making the only capability location tracking.
With the AirFinder network, there can be several beacons and gateways on every floor to enable floor-level accuracy. This lets the manager not just know the location of the housekeeper but also the floor. As a bonus, AirFinder tags can include panic buttons. This feature can be a critical component of an asset tracking solution, as housekeepers face harassment from guests and other staff. With a panic button, a manager or security personnel can save time by going to the correct floor and acting quickly.
We have identified that the Apple AirTag was created for consumer use and can be trickier to implement in commercial settings. Theoretically, it could be used for commercial asset tracking, but managers would run into many limitations. Why not opt for a tag designed to scale at the enterprise level?
At Link Labs, we provide the best fit solution for your industry. If you would like to see for yourself how AirFinder works, request a demo today.