Even though data is the “oil of today’s world" and the world is undergoing digitalisation, the businesses of most companies and the functioning of society as a whole are always dependent on tangible goods. Goods are being moved and their owners change, with the assets of companies being tied to them. For this reason, the essence of digitalisation involves combining the physical world and information technology so that they create a mutually supportive entity. Sometimes, in the midst of all the fuss about digitalisation, this seems to be forgotten when people focus too much on fancy technology and real-world problem solving takes a back seat.
However, the starting point for the digital strategy of most companies is that the information obtained from the field must be real-time information to the greatest extent possible. It may be important to know where machines are located, where vehicles are being driven to, when shipments will arrive or which employees are managing which cases and where. The more accurate the information, the better the operations can be managed and developed. Real-time locating systems (RTLS) have been developed for a long time, but they have mainly been parts of large logistics systems or company-specific solutions. It has been difficult to obtain accurate information because the technology has been expensive and its deployment slow. Investments in, for example, RFID systems, reader devices and the related software may be significant from the company’s perspective, even though the results are not satisfactory. Physical installations are required for reader devices, and they operate in varying degrees only at close range in different industrial environments. These technologies will be needed in the future as well, but they are not suitable for all use cases. Justifying the real-time tracking of a million-euro machine in the factory area is easy, but there are no adequate business grounds for tracking individual smaller devices or shipments around the world.
Right now, the market is undergoing many changes, which will alter the rules of the game. New IoT mobile technologies with low power consumption and cheap sensor components enable more cost-efficient networking of moving objects. Cloud services have introduced easy data storage, analysis and integration. Increasingly tougher competition, as well as tighter security and environmental standards, are some of the factors driving companies to monitor, optimise and streamline their operations. One can no longer afford to let vehicles stand or have shipments make detours, no matter the industry. According to a survey carried out by Capgemini, the digitalisation of order and delivery chains is the number one priority for approximately half of the respondents in manufacturing and retail business.
According to a report published by Mind Commerce in 2018, the Finnish tracking market is increasing by more than 20% on an annual basis. Dramatic growth is expected, in particular, for location and tracking solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI). When data from the field is accumulating faster than before, it will enable the creation of actual models and even forecasts instead of guesswork. When will the shipment arrive? Where is the vehicle now and where is it going to next? How long will the transfer take on a given day of the week in different weather conditions and at a certain time of the day? What is a normal route and what is a deviation? When the right persons receive immediate alerts concerning deviations, responding to them will be timelier.
At Telia, we have developed the Telia Asset Tracking solution, which provides an easy and fast way to jump on the bandwagon of change. The service adapts to the needs of various industries, as it has been created together with different types of customers and partners. The solution includes all the necessary components, such as devices, connections, cloud applications, and interfaces. The well-thought-out package is safe, and it will evolve with technological advances.