Wireless asset tracking

October 2006 Asset Management

Only transport fleet owners know the true cost of a truck hijacking.

Reported figures only tend to take the value of the vehicle into account, but fail to account for the load, the emotional impact on the drivers, the subsequent staff costs, the knock-on effects of failure to deliver the product to the client and so on.

Combating truck hijackings is not a simple matter, especially when the thieves are targeting only the trailer or cargo. Conventional fleet management and wired tracking devices in the truck simply do not work if the trailer is dragged away, or if they are disabled.

Transport operators with tracking units fitted to their trucks or trailers have the problem that these devices require power from the truck, making them easy to find and therefore susceptible to disablement if they are separated from their power supply.

A solution that has achieved a great deal of success around the world and especially in South Africa is a wireless unit called Mtrack, which is supplied by Electronic Tracking Systems (ETS).

The battery life of self-powered devices is usually measured in days or weeks, but this solution's patented power management algorithm enables the device to last for up to three years on factory-set reporting intervals.

Deon Bayly, managing director of ETS says: "The majority of our transport clients who run their devices on a 40 minute sleep cycle get between eight and 12 months from the battery. This means that it is now practical to imbed the Mtrack into a vehicle, trailer, cargo or any other moveable asset. Obviously the more times you have to access a device to recharge it or replace the battery, the more you compromise your security."

Mtrack uses the GSM network to get an initial macro location, and then radio frequency to track the device to within one metre.

"GSM units are not as easy to shield as GPS-based systems," says Bayly. "Because Mtrack does not have to 'see the sky' we are able to track inside warehouses, buildings and even underground locations such as parking lots."

The system has a user-friendly web-based interface, making it possible for clients to access the system and view their devices from anywhere. Each user is given a unique user ID with custom user rights. This enables the user to do what he is allowed to do, and protects the system from unauthorised use. Depending on user rights, a user can query for position on units, usage reports and communicate with the units. All communication, configuring, daily health checks, etc, are performed remotely through the GSM network.

Because it is wireless, it is also totally mobile. It can be moved from one vehicle to another or one load to another without expensive installations or interference with any wiring harnesses.

For more information contact Electronic Tracking Systems, +27 (0) 616 5055, [email protected], www.mtrack.co.za

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