Look to the Skies for Asset Tracking and Remote Monitoring

by Darrin Wilkey – Senior Director, Numerex Location Based Services.

In this article, Darrin Wilkey from Numerex Corp. (USA) explains the possibilities offered by satellite-based tracking and monitoring solutions to manage and protect fixed or moving valuable assets wherever they are on the surface of the planet.

Asset tracking is a top-of-mind issue across a number of industries. Wireless technology has come a long way in recent years, with new tracking solutions proving to save companies time, money and resources. However one hurdle that many companies have to overcome on a worldwide scale is monitoring high-value assets in regions where cellular coverage is not consistently available.

According to ABI Research, fleet management and trailer tracking system shipments are set to reach 6.4 million shipments by 2016. A shipment can cross several borders on one trip, and cellular tracking technology can quickly become cost prohibitive due to data roaming. In addition, there is always the concern of the asset going off the cellular map and being unable to communicate.

Beyond asset location tracking, there is a real need for monitoring an asset’s status. Today’s businesses are facing enhanced regulatory pressure, heightened environmental concerns and tighter data security requirements. Technologies that can help securely maintain systems and provide for monitoring and management will ultimately improve reporting, efficiency and safety. But traditional solutions for monitoring and measuring assets like tanks and pipelines, for example, have typically required some level of physical intervention — such as periodic on-site visits — often requiring the use of specialized measuring devices. The information collected during this manual intervention is then communicated to a central authority who can determine the appropriate course of action required. These solutions are based on reactive and time consuming processes, and often cannot detect anomalies or exceptions that could prove disastrous (such as a leak or an overflow situation) until after an event occurs.

To help solve these problems, we need to look up. Organizations across the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, food and military industries are turning to machine-to-machine (M2M) providers to take advantage of proven satellite based technology for asset tracking and remote monitoring. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites provide secure, reliable communication not bound by cellular coverage maps. A bundled satellite implementation including a rugged device, reliable network and configurable application is an ideal solution for tracking vehicles, containers, trailers and other mobile assets, as well as remotely monitoring tank levels, pipelines, door status (open/close) and other types of system monitoring to help protect valuable assets. Easy to install and fully integrated components allow customers to begin tracking and monitoring within minutes of deployment nearly anywhere in the world.

Let’s look at the tank example: Via monitoring sensors, short range wireless and satellite technology, a company can remotely see the fill level of a tank and receive alerts when readings are too low or too high. They can also identify potential leaks based on rapid or unexpected changes in volume, mitigating risk and avoiding disaster. Satellite solutions are proactive rather than reactive, and they can send critical alerts when an exception event occurs.

The use of this technology can have a significant impact on asset monitoring. Key benefits of using satellite technology include:

  • Improved efficiencies of monitoring and measuring critical assets such as vehicles, fleets, tanks, tankers, utilities, pipelines, oil rigs.
  • Enhanced security and supply chain fidelity.
  • Reduced cost by eliminating or reducing unnecessary on-site visits and enabling exception based management.
  • Reduced environmental impact by alerting businesses and governments to potential hazardous spills or leaks.

Numerex and its partners offer a wide variety of intelligent M2M products and services that enhance productivity, improve operational efficiency and control costs. Numerex Satellite FLEX™ is an innovative satellite-based global asset solution capable of delivering years of uninterrupted service on a single and easily field-replaceable battery. It can be installed, activated and operational in minutes and is the device of choice for implementations requiring low maintenance, long-life solutions. Numerex Satellite FLEX™ can act as a wireless hub to enable monitoring and alerting of sensors ranging from simple door open/close or air temperature, to more complex like flow rate and tank level. Our solution provides a thoughtfully designed web-based application for remote monitoring of critical information in near real-time, allowing businesses to be proactive with timely response or immediate action, helping to prevent potential damage to the asset, the business and the environment.

Whatever asset is on your mind, it can likely be tracked and monitored on a global basis through satellite technology. And finding the right solution doesn’t have to be a headache. Qualified M2M providers can take these business pressures off your hands and let the orbiting systems in the skies do the work.

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