Who Will You Trust to Track Your Mobile Assets?

Sep 18, 2017

It’s making a lot of sense these days to remotely monitor mobile assets – including your high-value cargo or any large pieces of equipment in the field. So what should you look for in a mobile asset tracking (MAT) solution?

In this fast-moving market, let’s first define mobile asset tracking offerings.  These are solutions that use wireless tracking devices and cellular, location and sensor technologies to remotely locate and monitor moveable assets that are outside the four walls.  There are currently a few major use cases:

  • Company-owned equipment and machinery that are located out in the field. They can be deployed in the same location for long periods of time or be shifted on a regular basis from place to place.
  • Trailers and containers typically attached to fleet vehicles.
  • High-value cargo that is in transit from Point A to Point B – by road, train, air, sea.

The typical MAT solution includes application software, the hardware device (which can be attached to the asset or, if applicable, its container), data network service, a Web-based administrative portal, and selected customer support services.

The typical reasons a business will begin tracking remote assets are:

  • Reduced transportation costs:  Less of a need to send people out to personally check on an asset’s condition.
  • Quicker asset recovery: GPS tracking helps locate stolen or misplaced goods.
  • New sources of revenue: Charging end-customers for sensor monitoring and alerts.
  • Reduced paperwork: When status reports are automatically and digitally generated to HQ.

These are high stakes – and prospective users need to closely evaluate both the possible solutions and the providers that sell them.  Some selection criteria to keep in mind include:

  • Has a hardware technology roadmap been created?  Are there plans to improve battery performance?  To lower device costs? To incorporate alternative energy options?
  • Who are the provider’s channel and technology partners and why were they chosen?  Vertical expertise?  Geographic coverage?  One-stop shop?
  • What types of sensors are available?  What environmental conditions can be monitored?
  • Is there a sophisticated analytics capability included that transforms data into actionable intelligence?
  • How siloed is the product?  Can the MAT solution be integrated with your other resource management tools and/or related business processes?
  • Is a prepackaged, turnkey version of the mobile asset tracking product available for deployment?
  • What are the pricing options?  Monthly per-device subscription price?  Per-project price?  How flexible is the provider in negotiating a pricing model that works best for your business?
  • Can you track additional mobile resource types – fleet vehicles, the field worker or driver – at the same time and on the same Web-based administrative portal that monitors your equipment or cargo? 
  • How modular are the hardware and software components of the MAT solution?
  • What level of post-sale support does the provider offer – including onboarding assistance, ongoing education/engagement, and technical support?

Today’s companies are giving mobile asset tracking solutions serious attention as they become more affordable, flexible, and sophisticated.  Businesses in the following sectors should be especially attentive:  construction, long-haul trucking, energy extraction, equipment rental firms, shipping firms, consumer packaged goods, and pharmaceuticals.   When evaluating and screening potential providers, make sure your selection criteria are up-to-date and reflect current MAT issues and capabilities.

More of our thinking around the Mobile Asset Tracking (MAT) sector and potential growth opportunities can be found in the Frost & Sullivan study, “The North American Mobile Asset Tracking Market: Monitoring On-the-Move Cargo, Equipment and Machinery,” 9ABE/2F-65, July 2017 at www.frost.com.

Jeanine Sterling


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