u-blox: Bluetooth low energy beacons optimize asset tracking on site

u-blox has announced that its Bluetooth low energy module NINA-B1 has been chosen by AddMobile, Swedish provider of devices and services for construction site management, as the basis of its short range equipment-tracking beacons, AddTrackers. This service is among the latest enhancements to the company’s AddMobile Toolbox platform and involves adding radio beacons to any tools or equipment that need tracking.

The AddMobile Toolbox helps site managers control mobile work orders, log fleet vehicle mileages, secure entry to work sites, register staff as they come and go, as well as handling fleet management and equipment safety. It uses a variety of hardware to enable these Connected Construction Site’s services, including stationary hubs and entrance control units with Bluetooth low energy and cellular connectivity, as well as an RFID reader, and mobile hubs with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), Bluetooth low energy and cellular connectivity. In addition to NINA-B1, the AddMobile Toolbox features the u-blox GSM/GPRS cellular module SARA-G3 and the u-blox MAX-M8 GNSS module series.

In use, the beacons equipping tools and equipment communicate with suitably equipped smartphones or other AddMobile hardware infrastructure. When one of these devices picks up an asset’s signal, the asset’s unique ID and GNSS coordinates are sent to AddMobile’s cloud platform, which can then show managers an image of the asset and its position on a map, list the equipment's features, and show where it is on its planned maintenance schedule.

Trackers don’t have to be static. In one use case, a vehicle is fitted with a mobile hub that includes a GSM connection, GNSS positioning, and a Bluetooth low energy interface in the luggage area. Tools can be tracked on site by static hubs, and then followed as they are put into company vans for use offsite. This means that staff scheduling offsite jobs can know the location of all their mobile personnel, and whether they have the right tools with them to undertake each task.

The company was also attracted by the cost efficiency of u-blox’s offering, and what is already a vast installed base of interoperable Bluetooth low energy technology. In the future, the collaboration between AddMobile and u-blox may extend to the use of a longer range variant of Bluetooth, to further reduce the cost of asset tracking on large and complex sites, and exploring the appropriate use of cellular technology in asset tracking.

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