News Release

Harnessing solar power to track and monitor non-powered assets

The logistics and fleet management industry has traditionally faced numerous challenges in tracking and monitoring non-powered assets, such as trailers and containers. These challenges include finding a rugged solution suitable to harsh environments and finding a practical power source, while also containing costs and minimising installation and maintenance requirements.
“Harnessing the free, renewable energy of the sun to power the latest cutting-edge GPS tracking technology created a practical and affordable solar powered tracking device. This innovative technology provides logistic, fleet, rental and courier companies with a means of tracking of non-powered assets that addresses all the challenges they have faced traditionally, while reducing costs and also contributing to a company’s efforts to reduce their environmental impact,” comments Alex Soldatos, Director of Digital Matter Telematics (DMT), a division of Digital Matter Embedded (DME) and creators of the G52 Solar tracking device.
Soldatos explains that advanced solar powered tracking devices are wireless, with the GSM and GPS antennas internal to the units, and no external power cables required. As such, these devices are quick and simple to install, and require no maintenance or battery charging, which saves time and cuts costs.
To be fitted to outdoor, non-powered assets, including trailers, containers and forklifts, in the most challenging environments and low-touch conditions, the solar powered tracking units must be housed in a rugged and weatherproof casing, as is the case with the G52 Solar. In addition, unlike traditional tracking solutions that must be powered via a suzi cable or trailer lights, or require constant recharging of the batteries, the tracking units must require no external power supply. The back-up battery should also continuously be charged by solar power to eliminate the need to charge the back-up battery manually. “In the case of the G52 Solar, a built-in solar panel charges an internal battery, which provides battery life for many hours, even in cloud-covered conditions, and for up to several months on standby, depending on frequency of GPS updates and peripheral additions,” explains Soldatos. “The G52 Solar also features a 3D accelerometer to ensure the unit continues to operate even in very low power modes as tracking can be set to activate only once the G52 Solar has picked up movement of the asset. The device also monitors and reports on the battery voltage, enabling early detection of battery faults.”
For a complete solution, notes Soldatos, it is important for companies to ascertain how the tracking and monitoring data will be stored and accessed. “For example, using the latest in GPS and GSM technology, the G52 Solar unit is visible anywhere inside mobile and network coverage. Units outside GSM coverage areas record and store large amounts of data on the flash memory, which is uploaded once the unit returns within GSM coverage, allowing tracking and monitoring in even the most remote environments. Capable of communicating with a host of sensors, the G52 units can store zone definitions for alarm notifications, including an alarm signal when battery power is low.”

In terms of accessing the data, Soldatos recommends looking for solar powered tracking solutions that allow the data to be accessed remotely via the Internet as well as to be forwarded onto customers’ systems in their required data formats. “At DMT we ensure this via our Digital Matter OEM Server, which also remotely keeps the software up to date.”
Soldatos further recommends checking the logging algorithms for generating GPS records and position data, noting that in traditional tracking units, generating records require ongoing power that can deplete the battery. “Unlike traditional tracking units, the battery of the solar device is continuously ‘topped up’ by the energy of the sun. Further to this, the solar device is geared to go into a low power mode when the asset is not moving. The 3D accelerometer built in the solar device can be configured to ‘Wake up’ the tracking device on the slightest movement and therefore only send records if the asset is moving, which is especially useful in terms of containers and non-powered assets.”
“When purpose-designed technology meets the power of the sun, practical and sustainable solutions are possible,” concludes Soldatos. “We are delighted that the G52 Solar will offer logistic, fleet, rental and courier companies such a practical, sustainable and cost-effective solution to the age-old challenge of tracking and monitoring non-powered assets.”
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