LOGISTICS & ASSET TRACKING

For freight forwarding companies, real-time information about their on-the-go assets is the lifeblood of their business. Tracking the mobile containers can be very expensive, but companies have no choice but to accept the high costs. Many companies still use manual tracking methods that elevate overhead costs without delivering the best reliability. RFID represents a major upgrade for asset management, compared to manual methods. This technology not only tracks containers, but collects critical data that can be used for further mobile asset analysis.

The IEEE 802.15.4-based wireless standards, such as ZigBee, have taken RFID functionality and improved upon it, enhancing the capabilities of asset tracking solutions. A.N. Solutions’ @ANY modules are ideally suited for asset tracking applications, thanks to their best-in-class sensitivity, high operating range and low power consumption. @ANY modules come with a comprehensive software package, including user-friendly programming tools using AT-commands. The networking software allows the module-based wireless sensor devices to form self-healing, self-organizing mesh networks. Compact modules are easy-to-implement and facilitate quick and cost efficient rollout of streamlined asset tracking systems. @ANY modules’ low power consumption means that the network can operate unattended for year, requiring little maintenance. Wireless asset tracking systems improve supply chain performance, streamline business processes, cut tracking costs, and reduce container loss and damage.

Parking Automation

Most of us have unpleasant experience of parking in a crowded underground garage. Various studies estimate that an average cruising for parking time in urban public parking area varies from 3.5 to 12 minutes with a distance ranging from half a mile to over a mile. This all adds up to a lot of traffic and air pollution. An innovative European system integrator singled out this application area as prime for automation, turning to wireless sensor network technology to overcome the frustrating challenges of underground parking.

IEEE802.15.4/ZigBee RF modules present an unprecedented solution in terms of ease-of-deployment and cost-efficiency. The decision was made to use ZigBee modules to add wireless capability to the system. Two module characteristics were of key importance to the system integrator: power consumption and size. @ANY modules from A.N. Solutions fully matched the system integrator’s requirements with their tiny footprint of less than a square inch and low power consumption. In addition, @ANY modules come bundled with embedded networking software, enabling the @ANY module-based sensor devices to form self-organizing, self-healing networks, thus simplifying the commissioning.

The parking automation system was set up, as follows. Vehicle detection sensor devices were mounted next to the garage’s parking spaces. Each device was powered by 9V battery, allowing for up to 5 years of autonomous operation. @ANY2400 802.15.4/ZigBee module was integrated into every device, enabling it to communicate wirelessly with other devices and form a mesh network. The real-time data about the current number of available spots, the parking lot filling trend, and average turnover rates for individual spaces and the parking lot as a whole, was collected and relayed to the main server. Compact displays showed information about the free spaces to the drivers.

The automated system’s implementation resulted in the dramatic reduction of both cruising distance and time to find a free space. Parking lot operator reported increased vehicle turnover and a better occupancy rate. This not only generated positive publicity, but noticeably added to the operator’s bottom line.

Warehouse Automation

A modern warehouse has come a long way from a simple place to store things to a high-tech processing facility for a large variety of products. It has now become an integral part of the supply chain. As the warehouses grew in size and variety of stored goods, manual operations could not keep up with the mounting challenges. Automation presented the right solution. Below are just a few benefits that warehouse automation has to offer:

• Overhead costs reduction
• Better space utilization
• Increased number of shipments using different carriers
• Real-time package tracking
• Paperless operation
• Higher productivity per employee
• Increased customer satisfaction

Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) technology is ideally suited for the warehouse automation task. It eliminates expensive wiring and provides ultimate flexibility in placing the sensors and tags. IEEE802.15.4-based standards, such as ZigBee, allow to use battery-operated sensor devices that can be placed anywhere in the warehouse. A.N. Solutions’ @ANY RF modules combine best-in-class operating range with extremely low power consumption. Each module comes with embedded networking software. @ANY modules can be easily integrated into asset tracking devices, enabling standards-based warehouse automation solutions.


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