According to ABI Research, low-power wide-area (LPWA) wireless networks are set to unleash the next wave of growth for Internet of Things (IoT) asset tracking solutions, reaching 500 million tracked things by 2023.
Low-cost, battery-powered tracker devices that are integrated with connectivity, cloud storage, and software platforms are intended to provide visibility of assets to multiple stakeholders across a supply chain.
"Simple, low-cost LPWA-enabled asset tracking solutions will transform the supply chain and logistics industry the way smart meters are transforming the energy and water distribution industry," said Adarsh Krishnan, principal analyst at ABI.
Logistics companies have been early adopters of asset tracking solutions driven by life-sciences and healthcare customers due to strict regulations and to mitigate supply chain risks, especially in the transportation of sensitive and high-value biomedical assets. Intermodal refrigerator containers have already witnessed connectivity adoption, but with LPWA network technologies, the technology is being adopted for dry containers as well, which accounts for nearly 90% of the total container fleet in the world. Asset tracking solutions are expected to have the most impact on tool and heavy equipment rental companies, with more than 45% penetration of rental inventory by 2023.
Device OEMs such as Calamp, Xirgo and Roambee have been early to develop solutions using cellular LPWA network technologies. Non-cellular solutions using SIGFOX and LoRa technologies from Ticatag, Sensolous, Tracknet, and Viloc have also been making significant inroads through partnerships with system integrators and communication service providers such as Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Cox Communications. Non-cellular LPWA solutions may have been early to market, but cellular LPWA networks combined with horizontal platforms are expected to drive much wider adoption and to account for three-quarters of the installed base of asset trackers in 2023. LTE-M is expected to be more successful in IoT applications that require more continuous tracking capabilities with a low latency threshold, whereas NB-IoT is expected to address use cases that require periodic tracking of assets across multiple regions due to its energy efficiency and lower cost.
As the technology matures and the market witnesses wider adoption, more value in asset tracking services is expected to be realized through the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies.
Krishnan said, "AI will provide valuable insights from analysis of the location data gathered by the asset tracker, and blockchain will allow for decentralized control and provide greater transparency across supply chain processes."