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IoT Blog

IoT Asset Tracking: How Tive is Reimagining Supply Chain Visibility

by Benoit Tournier, Director of Marketing, Transportation

A washing machine manufacturer is faced with a serious problem: a meaningful percentage of its machines are damaged during the shipping process, before they arrive at their final destinations. Customers are unhappy, money is lost, and it’s impossible to tell when and where the damage is occurring. It’s difficult to track which shipping route is experiencing the most damage because the manufacturer moves the products through multiple distribution paths. Without a tracking system, the manufacturer has no way to pinpoint the cause of the problem. That’s where tracking company Tive can assist. Tive helps businesses solve complicated and costly issues like this by improving how they track their assets from point A to point B. Tive has helped many companies identify and prevent shipping issues, from shock damage to lost shipments to temperature excursions, with their advanced IoT asset tracking system. By teaming up with Sierra Wireless, Tive has been able to design their tracker with the latest IoT technologies and connect their tracking tools to an end-to-end cloud-based system. They prove that tracking is a “must have” for every company that deals with shipping and logistics.

IoT Asset Tracking Can Prevent Damage and Reduce Late Shipments

When Tive was founded in 2015, its goal was to bring IoT to the supply chain, providing business owners with greater control over their assets from start to finish. As Tive started tracking assets for manufacturers and fleet managers, they discovered that most manufacturers face two major challenges: damaged assets and late shipments.

The High Cost of Damaged Assets

Tive found that even well-managed companies struggle to identify the origin of shipping damages. To find the source of the problem, companies had to look through the damaged item’s shipping history and manually keep track of every item that was damaged over a period of time. Eventually, asset managers might identify a particular route that experiences the most damage, but to get to this point, the company may have already lost dozens—perhaps even hundreds or thousands—of products to damage. Failure to find the source of in-transit damage could result in millions of dollars in lost profits, a slower time to market and unhappy customers.

After teaming up with Sierra Wireless, Tive can now help shippers pinpoint the cause of damage much more quickly, enabling them to identify and sometimes even prevent damage before the product reaches a customer. Tive’s proprietary trackers and cloud-based software, connected using Sierra Wireless’ device-to-cloud solution, give companies the visibility they need, enabling alerts, reporting and analysis on their inbound and outbound shipments. From there, shippers can take immediate action to prevent further damage, or offer their shipping partners better training on how to handle their products in the future. By tracking historical damage, a manufacturer may find that a particular route tends to damage products, such as fragile mechanical washing machine components. With this insight, the manufacturer may choose to use a smoother, less rugged route in the future, even if that route is longer.

Tive has already proven how valuable IoT asset tracking can be for business owners. For example, they worked with a pharmaceutical company to track a container that held nearly $1.5 million worth of medication. Tive placed trackers inside of this container, and when the shipment arrived at the Port of Hamburg, these sensors immediately alerted the customer to a potential problem. During shipping, someone at the port had accidentally set the container’s temperature to 0 degrees Celsius, rather than the ideal 20 degrees. Thanks to Tive’s sensors, they were able to fix the problem immediately, saving the expensive drugs from damage.

Asset Tracking - Webinar

Make Late Shipments a Thing of the Past

Another problem that Tive has identified is the issue of late arrivals. Often, certain routes cause greater delays than others. When this happens, the manufacturer experiences a delay in revenue; after all, you can’t sell a product if it hasn’t yet arrived at its final destination. Using the latest IoT asset tracking solutions, Tive is making late arrivals a rarity, helping companies to deliver their shipments on time as often as possible.

For example, when a large logistics management company noticed that they were constantly sending out late shipments, they turned to Tive for help. Using cloud-based software and trackers along with built-in alerts for inbound and outbound shipments, Tive discovered that some trucking companies were giving them inaccurate location information. The truck drivers carrying these shipments would sometimes lie about their precise locations, making it impossible to know that the packages were going to arrive late. By putting trackers on these packages, the customer could see exactly where the shipments were at all times, enabling them to identify and prevent potential delays. Using IoT asset tracking, companies can see when packages sit too long in ports or warehouses, giving them the chance to call the warehouse and get their shipments out on time.

Why Tive Chose Sierra Wireless for Its IoT Asset Tracking Solution

To solve both the damage and late arrival issues, Tive leveraged Sierra’s device-to-cloud solution, which includes the AirPrime® HL Series embedded modules and Smart SIMs. These tools enable globally-connected devices, which is vital for companies that ship products across many regions. In addition, Sierra Wireless’ services give Tive cloud-based visibility to manage subscriptions and devices, helping Tive to achieve real-time optimization of its customers’ supply chains from end-to-end. 

Sierra Wireless’ HL Series embedded modules’ Common Flexible Form Factor (CF3®) also proved beneficial for Tive’s needs. Because the modules are available in 3G and 4G LTE variants, and they support 2G fallback on some models, Tive was able to choose the perfect module for their needs, especially as they transitioned from their 2G devices. Starting with 2G or 3G and scaling to 4G, Tive will enjoy seamless evolutions of their asset tracker by simply replacing a module with another variant that has the same footprint. These modules also offer Tive an ultra-low power mode, which allows them to save power, even when their devices stay in constant communication. This, coupled with smart SIM support, allows Tive to track any asset in the world, using less power in the process.

Looking Ahead to Low Power Wide Area Technology

Carriers around the world started to roll out a new standard cellular technology in 2017 called Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) or Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN), which will be a perfect fit for applications like asset tracking that require low power consumption, extended coverage, and cost efficiency. LPWA cellular networks have lower data rates compared to consumer-driven 4G LTE networks, but are ideal for transmitting small amounts of data in the asset tracking case.

Compared to traditional cellular, LPWA technologies will enable cost savings due to their significantly lower processing power memory requirements. With reduced processing power and more opportunities to enter deep sleep, devices can operate with lower current and longer battery life. Higher coverage comes from slowing the data rate, so you’ll never lose track of your asset, even when it’s underground or in an area with poor network coverage.

Our LPWA embedded comply with CF3 and support 2G fallback on some module variants, ensuring that your design will be future-proof and scalable to future network deployments.  LPWA embedded modules are available to start designing with today.

Start with Sierra to find out more about designing IoT asset tracking systems that improve operations and the bottom line. Watch our on-demand webinar, How IoT enables the tracking of assets, to learn how to navigate the rapid evolution of IoT technology.