Mobile Asset Management: Beyond Simple Tracking

Jan 25, 2016

For Mobile Asset Tracking (MAT) vendors, the quickest way to fail is to focus solely on an asset’s location.  GPS information is great; but it’s not where the profits are.

Look at how the current mobile asset tracking market is evolving in North America.  There are two major use cases currently in play:

  • Large pieces of company-owned equipment are located out in the field and are in need of monitoring.  They can be deployed for long periods of time in the same general location, or they can be shifted from place to place on a regular basis.  In either situation, the primary need is to prevent theft.
  • Important cargo is in transit from Point A for delivery to Point B – by air, rail, road, or sea.  The cargo can be high-value products such as computers.  Or it can be mission-critical, such as emergency aircraft replacement parts.  Or it can be sensitive cargo, such as agricultural products that have strict environmental requirements (temperature, humidity, etc.).  The need here can be a bit more complex.

In either of these situations, the mobile asset tracking solution is usually comprised of application software, the hardware device, data network service (for connectivity and location pings), and a web-based tracking portal.  It is attached to the equipment or container, or can be placed into the package or pallet.

The first use case – equipment sitting out in the field – is served by simple “slap and track” applications. Due to ill-advised price wars, margins are being negatively impacted.  These solutions have remained largely location-focused, and so are becoming commoditized. Instead of being positioned as a primary business offering, equipment tracking solutions have been relegated to becoming an “add on” capability to a more lucrative fleet management sale.

The second use case – high-value cargo in transit – holds significantly more profit potential.  Vendors and customers are becoming more interested in turning their dumb assets into intelligent assets, moving from providing simple locationing to leveraging – and monetizing -- the power of sensors and the rich edge data they are producing.

For example, environmental sensors can monitor shipping conditions throughout transit and send alerts if predefined limits regarding temperature, light, humidity, or motion are exceeded.  Many end-customers are willing to pay more to guarantee the health of their cargo (which could be anything from farm produce to expensive art work), providing new revenue opportunities to the shipper or vendor.

One vendor that wants to move away from the “mobile asset tracking” nomenclature and toward more expansive terms such as “sensor-based logistics” or “mobile asset management” is OnAsset Intelligence, Inc.  The OnAsset sales team is working with cargo tracking customers to identify new, more lucrative value opportunities.

An OnAsset example:  A manufacturer can ship product to its retailers, but isn’t paid until the carton is actually opened.  Historically, it’s been up to the retailer to let the manufacturer know when product was extracted.  Needless to say, some gamed the system, delayed notification, and then – as a result -- delayed payment well past the agreed-upon point.  Using geofencing and light sensors placed in the cartons, the manufacturer now knows exactly when a specific box is opened – and an invoice is automatically generated to the retailer for payment.  Needless to say, the impact on the manufacturer’s cash flow has been impressive.

Savvy vendors and resellers are morphing simple asset location tracking into rich, sensor-based ways to increase revenues, enhance customer service, and improve efficiencies.  Leaders focus not just on the immediate product deployment, but also on helping their customers think creatively about how to use and monetize the new data and visibility that GPS and sensors generate.

The North American Mobile Asset Tracking and Management market is addressed in further detail in Frost & Sullivan study 9ABE-65, “Analysis of the North American Mobile Asset Tracking Market,” issued in December 2015.


Jeanine Sterling

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