Jul 26, 2023

The future of tracking: how IoT tech is changing the asset management game

Julie Sylvest

Asset management is the process of tracking and managing assets with the help of sensors. In this article, we will look into six of the most popular asset tracking technologies, the pros and cons of each for different use cases, and how akenza supports asset tracking use cases.

Asset management is the process of tracking and managing assets with the help of sensors. The collected information can include product information, location, temperature and humidity measurements, among countless others. As technology evolves, the methods used for tracking are changing.

The traditional method of managing assets uses manual tracking. Due to its nature, it is prone to mistakes and harder to keep records up to date. Whereas modern methods use IoT to provide asset location, condition, and maintenance schedules to better organize and track resources. The type of asset and its surrounding environment will dictate what tracking technology is best to use.

In this article, we will look into six of the most popular asset tracking technologies, the pros and cons of each for different use cases, and how akenza supports asset tracking use cases.

Understanding the difference: tracking technologies vs. IoT communication protocols

It is common to encounter confusion between technologies solely dedicated to tracking a device's location and IoT communication protocols, which also have the capability to derive the position of the device. These distinct technologies serve specific purposes. GPS stands out for its accurate location tracking, while RFID excels in storing IDs and identifying goods for efficient inventory management. On the other hand, communication technologies like WiFi, Bluetooth, Cellular, and LoRaWAN not only facilitate device communication but also enable the computation of their location through triangulation, leveraging their proximity to communication towers or gateways. Each technology plays a vital role in crafting comprehensive asset-tracking solutions, tailored to various use cases.


A common technology to track assets in real-time is Global Positioning System or GPS. GPS tracking devices utilize signals from multiple satellites and perform triangulation calculations to precisely establish their location. This process involves accurately measuring the distance between the satellites and the device to determine its exact position. It works globally, as long as there is a clear path to at least four satellites. Here are some points to consider regarding the advantages and disadvantages of GPS tracking:


  • Long range: GPS tracking can provide data over long distances. This allows it to be suitable for many applications such as fleet management and logistics.

  • Precise and real-time location: Assets can be tracked with high accuracy, with a seven-meter diameter accuracy.


  • Limited signal: GPS tracking relies on satellite connectivity, which can be impaired by buildings or underground structures. Signal indoors may be limited.

  • Expensive, especially at scale: Managing a large asset fleet using GPS comes at a high cost.


WiFi leverages existing signal infrastructure and operates on the same triangulation calculations as GPS. However, instead of receiving signals from satellites, WiFi utilizes access points. These access points serve as reference points for determining the location of assets. The precise location of an asset can be calculated by measuring the signal strength and arrival time of WiFi signals received from these access points. Taking advantage of the existing WiFi infrastructure, let’s look at some pros and cons of WiFi for asset tracking:


  • Accurate detection indoors: Wi-Fi signals can pass through walls and access points are located usually indoors.

  • Useful in urban areas: Tall buildings pose a challenge for maintaining precise GPS reception. However, unlike satellite signals, WiFi signals do not encounter this issue.


  • Need for connectivity: Asset tracking accuracy may decrease as assets move farther away from WiFi access points. This can make it difficult to track objects in motion or assets located at considerable distances from the access points.

  • Privacy and security: WiFi signals can be susceptible to unauthorized access, posing potential risks to transmitted data. It is important to implement security measures, such as encryption and access control, to protect the transmitted data over the network.

Bluetooth Low Energy

Bluetooth, specifically Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is one of the most popular asset tracking technologies. When it comes to BLE for asset tracking, a local network is established between Bluetooth beacons (or asset tags) and hub devices. Using the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) sent by the beacon, the location of assets can be tracked. Let’s expand on the pros and cons of using Bluetooth for asset tracking:


  • High accuracy: Bluetooth asset tracking has high location accuracy for precise asset tracking. This technology is an advantage for large-scale applications, such as warehouses where it is crucial to know exact asset location.

  • Low power consumption: BLE technology is energy efficient, operating for extended periods without battery change. This is especially helpful for tracking in remote locations.

  • Low cost: BLE tags are relatively affordable, making them more cost-effective compared to other technologies.


  • Latency: As Bluetooth technology can have latency issues, it may not be the best technology for time-sensitive location updates.

  • Signal interference: Bluetooth operates on the same 2.4 GHz frequency band as other wireless devices, making it prone to signal interference.

  • Better for static assets: Accurate tracking is more difficult with Bluetooth technology as it relies on beacon positions and RSSI. Constantly moving assets may not be properly tracked.


Cellular tracking combines the capabilities of GPS and cellular networks to provide location data. It is a great technology for large asset fleets and is very reliable, as it uses already existing cellular infrastructure. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of cellular tracking:


  • Long range and wide reach: Since cellular networks use pre-existing networks, there is extensive coverage already in place giving this technology long-range reach. This allows assets to be tracked over long distances, which is especially ideal for logistics.

  • Standardization: Standardized protocols ensure compatibility across different networks and enable scalability.


  • Low accuracy: Cellular tracking has low accuracy as it relies on cell tower signals. If the signal is weak, proper tracking can be poor.

  • Not reliable indoors and underground: Since cellular tracking relies on cell tower signals, reliability is limited indoors and underground.

  • Must use third-party cellular infrastructure: As much as using pre-existing networks is an advantage, it is also a downside that a user must rely on existing cellular infrastructure. This dependency can introduce more disadvantages such as costs or coverage limitations.

Example of asset management for shipping logistics


RFID, or Radio-Frequency Identification, is a technology that utilizes radio waves to retrieve data stored in a tag. The RFID tag consists of an antenna that transmits the data to a reader, which converts the waves to readable information. There are both active tags, powered by an internal battery, and passive tags, relying on external power. However, asset tracking normally uses active tags as they have a higher operating range. Here are some pros and cons of RFID:


  • Faster scanning: Compared to barcode-based systems, RFID enables rapid recognition of multiple tags at the same time.

  • The tag does not need to be in sight: Since this technology uses radio waves, there does not need to be a line of sight between the tag and the reader.

  • Unique identification: RFID systems can track unique information, not only product type.


  • High cost: The costs of RFID tags, readers, infrastructure, and integration into an existing system can create high costs.

  • Low accuracy: RFID systems may have greater interference compared to other tracking technologies.


LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network), is designed to connect low-bandwidth, battery-powered devices that function on a LoRa network. It can cover a wide range of IoT applications. Let’s look into the pros and cons of LoRaWAN technology:


  • Low power consumption: LoRaWAN technology supports devices that don’t require a battery recharge for ten or more years. Not having to frequently recharge or change the battery is a large advantage for some projects, especially those deployed in hard to reach places.

  • Transmit over wider areas: LoRaWAN networks transmit data over large geographic areas up to 15 kilometers, making it suitable for tracking applications across borders such as in logistics.

  • High capacity: One gateway can support the connection of thousands of IoT devices.


  • Low data transmission rates: With its low power consumption and long-range coverage, bandwidth transmission rates are limited.

  • Network coverage: LoRaWAN technology requires network coverage which is available in most European cities, but it might be a challenge in rural areas.

  • Not suitable for low latency applications: Continuous monitoring and real-time use cases requiring low latency are not suitable with LoRaWAN.

How akenza supports asset tracking

The akenza platform offers a straightforward solution to track and monitor assets across borders. With an extensive list of pre-integrated asset tracking devices, these payload decoders allow the translation of raw data received from devices into readable, structured data in one click, without coding. Akenza offers many features to support a multitude of asset tracking cases:

  • Connectivity and large coverage

LoRaWAN - Swisscom LPN provides LoRaWAN roaming coverage across western Europe. This allows IoT projects to cross borders. For example, if an asset starts in Switzerland, it can continue tracking to France without worrying about multiple network operators or complex roaming agreements. Discover the Connectivity as a Service offering in detail.

Cellular IoT - The IoTcreators integration to akenza brings global roaming for LTE Cat. M1 and NB-IoT and supports connecting cellular devices via UDP, CoAP, and MQTT. This makes it easier to connect SIM-based devices to the cloud and gives great coverage throughout Europe.

IoT cellular coverage map

  • Rule Engine Geofencing block

The Geofencing block of the rule engine allows the definition of an area on the map and the trigger of a notification if the asset leaves or enters this area. This is particularly interesting for track and trace use cases such as the movement of goods in shipping containers.

  • Swisscom LPN positioning service

The Swisscom LPN positioning service delivers a rough estimation of asset location without relying on GPS-enabled devices. Instead, location is estimated on RSSI and TDoA (time difference of arrival).

  • Map view on Dashboard Builder

The map view function on the dashboard builder enables the presentation of data indicating asset location, as well as the ability to visualize the route taken by the asset. If an asset is measuring additional data, such as temperature, it can also display this data associated with the device on the map. This is especially interesting for cold chain tracking, for trucks with a humidity sensor carrying pharmaceutical goods, edibles, etc. If the temperature drops along the route, one can receive a notification on the way.

The ultimate IoT stack for your solution

With the low complexity features of the akenza platform, devices and connectivity can be easily managed all in one place. No matter the use case, akenza provides the tools to make asset tracking cases more accessible to projects of all sizes.

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