There are a variety of wireless location technologies that can be used in different asset tracking platforms. Some examples include Ultra-Wideband (UWB), GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Although there are different benefits to each, one of the best options enterprises can use for indoor commercial asset tracking is Bluetooth. Bluetooth has improved over the years by providing an even longer-lasting battery life while maintaining its precision value-add. This version, referred to as Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), is the go-to choice for commercial-grade asset tracking because of its low cost and long battery life. Let’s take a deeper look at why enterprises should consider Bluetooth LE over UWB for commercial asset tracking.
What is Ultra-Wideband Technology?
UWB is a short-range, radio technology that operates at high frequencies. The system uses hundreds of megahertz to transmit messages to give accuracy of an asset’s location within a range of 10-30 cm. This technology seems appealing because of its precision, but there’s more to consider when employing a UWB solution for a company. Devices operating through UWB only provide this type of precision when assets have a clear line of sight from tag to location transmission device (such as a beacon or mobile phone) and are close together. This is a complicated solution to implement, which causes it to be more expensive.
What is Bluetooth Low Energy Technology?
Bluetooth LE is a form of wireless location technology designed especially for short-range communication. Bluetooth LE is similar to WiFi in the sense that it allows devices to communicate with each other, but Bluetooth LE exchanges small amounts of data. For example, say you want to broadcast an asset tag’s location to an IoT platform. The amount of data you need to transfer is minimal, so Bluetooth LE works well for indoor positioning use cases and can significantly save on battery life. Today, most smartphones and tablets are Bluetooth LE compatible, which means they can seamlessly communicate with Bluetooth-enabled devices.
- Long Battery Life. Bluetooth LE transmits a small amount of data and only updates as often as you need. This allows companies to track assets without changing batteries for up to 5 years. UWB consumes significantly more energy because of the amount of data being transmitted, which causes a much shorter battery life. This makes it more troublesome for companies, as they would constantly need to change batteries in hundreds if not thousands of asset tracking tags.
- Low Cost. Bluetooth LE has a more effective commercial infrastructure compared to UWB. A Bluetooth LE system takes just 5 minutes to set up which allows it to be implemented at a lower cost and helps users obtain a quicker ROI. The longer-lasting batteries also help to drive down cost as companies won’t have to purchase and change them constantly. More complex systems, like UWB, can drive up company cost significantly through having to purchase batteries more frequently. Another increase in cost comes from needing more transmission devices than Bluetooth LE, as tagged assets using UWB need a clear line of sight in order to work properly. Tag costs are also significantly different - standard UWB tags in low volumes can cost as much as $70/tag, while Bluetooth LE tags can range from $10-$15/tag. Since tags are one of the major costs of an asset tracking system, reducing the tag cost can drive down costs over 80%!
- Accuracy. Bluetooth LE enables companies to track assets based on specific asset location needs. By placing Bluetooth LE beacons throughout an indoor facility, companies can track assets within a specific area, or more closely identify location by adding more beacons. Unlike UWB, there is no need for a clear path between tags and beacons to communicate location with each other. More beacons enable better accuracy, but it’s up to your specific needs how many to use. UWB has greater precision, but if your use case can work with meter-level accuracy instead of foot-level accuracy, Bluetooth LE is the path for you.
Link Labs AirFinder OnSite uses Bluetooth LE to keep a balance between low cost, long-lasting battery life, and higher accuracy. This has increased ROI for many companies across different industries. The reliability of AirFinder gives companies peace of mind knowing their assets are always accounted for. Organizations of all types – from manufacturing and construction companies to hospitals, emergency management agencies, and fulfillment centers – own or lease all sorts of assets that are essential to everyday business operations, and tracking them with the AirFinder solution takes the stress out of knowing where assets are located in real-time.
Bluetooth LE is a reliable technology for asset management. With proximity-based technology, companies can easily locate assets as they don’t need a clear path to the beacon in order to give an accurate location reading. It provides an asset’s location by adhering to the nearest beacon, which allows users to customize their AirFinder OnSite Bluetooth LE solution and expand as needed. When connected to Link Labs’ Symphony Link, there’s no need to rely on WiFi or UWB that could fail you in a time of need.
The AirFinder OnSite system can also scale to meet small to large business needs, while still being an inexpensive system to install. This is not an indoor-only solution; users can enable the AirFinder platform to be used outdoors to track shipments and more. With the combination of an indoor and outdoor solution, you can save money by buying one solution to meet two needs.
Wrapping It Up
Deciding what asset tracking solution to use for your company’s needs can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. At Link Labs, we can help customize a solution to fit your business-specific needs to help you save time and money.
To find out more about AirFinder and its use of Bluetooth Low Energy, book a demo with us.