Annie Turner talked to David Patek from Neeco Global ICT Services about the progress of asset tracking and where it’s going next. He thinks the arrival of NB-IoT will have a significant impact.
AT: What will the biggest applications for asset tracking be in the transport sector?
DP: The opportunities for asset tracking in transport are wide and varied, covering many different areas such as agriculture, air and rail, construction, car rentals, waste management and industry [manufacturing].
The biggest applications will be for workforce and asset planning, predictive and preventative maintenance, security, fleet and staff management.
AT: How mature is that market for asset trackers, both in terms of the trackers themselves and the level of deployment?
DP: The practice of tracking assets has been around for years in one form or another, admittedly becoming more sophisticated in the late 70s and 80s as technology became more widely available.
In the last few years, the advent of IoT has enabled the development of more sophisticated, multi-faceted trackers, however I believe that the market has definitely not yet reached maturity.
In terms of deployment, more and more companies and individuals are becoming aware of the many advantages of asset tracking and monitoring. There are also still so many different areas for deployment to explore so I think we will continue to see significant growth here too.
AT: What’s preventing the market from progressing? (this might be companies reluctant to partner, cost, lack of understanding by potential customers about what could be achieved etc.)
DP: There is still not full market awareness of what asset trackers and monitors can achieve for a business. There are also cheap IoT units and trackers on the market that may initially seem attractive but that often malfunction quite quickly. This leads to a sense of general mistrust. In some cases, businesses have found they need to use different suppliers to be able to set up and monitor their trackers, making the process cumbersome and time consuming.
AT: How can these issues be addressed?
DP: All of the above scenarios have created barriers, but we are seeing that offering a complete solution, backed up by 24/7 support is making a difference in terms of gaining customers’ trust.
Having a really clear understanding of a customer’s business needs – such as their seasonality or the parameters of the analysis they require – is also essential in delivering relevant results. Once this understanding has been reached, a tailor-made system that fully meets the client’s needs can be developed, leading to trust and more importantly, loyalty.
AT: How do you expect the market will change in the next two years and the next five?
DP: In the short term I would expect to see the implementation of [the cellular technology] NB-IoT across the world, which will really facilitate increased IoT communication across all industries.
Today customers are buying IoT solutions and they are implementing them, but perhaps the solutions are not always fully integrated into their businesses or networks.
Within the next five years I believe we will see the full potential of IoT coming to fruition in business and industry, mainly in construction, logistics and rail segments, with IoT being fully embedded into systems and processes adding real value to the bottom line.
David Patek from Neeco Global was interviewed by Annie Turner, editor of IoT Transport.