Livestock Tracking Is Becoming out of This World

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1Q 2020 | IN-5701

FindMy is a Norwegian manufacturer that specializes in equipment for the electronic tracking of animals, people, and objects. It has been partnered with Globalstar for ten years and more than 20 million messages have been transmitted from the 45,000 collars that they already have deployed.

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Farmers Are Using Space to Find Their Livestock


FindMy has launched its next-generation tracker powered by Globalstar’s satellites. The new tracker takes form in a smaller and more robust lightweight collar that also benefits from longer battery life. The new collar will be available in Spring 2020 and comes equipped with a new application that makes it easier for end users to configure and remotely check its location. The new collars, like the old, are set to be robust so that they are able to work in whatever weather.

The new tracker, STX3, has a small size and offers ease of integration and the ability to create geo-fences that enable farmers to ensure that their livestock’s locations can be monitored. The newer solutions also enable farmers to prevent the loss of their livestock due to disease, predators, or insufficient water or food. The geo-fencing allows for farmers to ensure that their cattle are only grazing within the designated perimeters they have set themselves.

FindMy offers not only hardware but also software to be able to utilize the data that is collected from having the hardware installed into the collars. Each collar has a separate ID chip for each animal being monitored, meaning that the farmers can identify which specific animals require additional surveillance and maximize the value of their herd.

Low Power Sensor-to-Satellite (LP-S2S) IoT Connectivity Is Multiplying


The success of the previous 45,000 collars that FindMy has deployed over the previous ten years while partnered with Globalstar has contributed to the reasons for the new model of collars they are launching this coming Spring. Having the ability to connect via satellite can decrease the overall cost of connectivity. Satellites are better for connecting applications that do not require constant communication and updates; limiting the number of messages that are required to retrieve relevant and sufficient data means that the costs are lowered. Satellite connectivity is better suited to applications that are aimed at geographical locations in rural areas where the cellular network infrastructure is not as available—e.g., tracking the locations of long-haul trucks—and areas that are within mountains and farmland. The success FindMy has had using satellite connectivity for the tracking collars they deploy is evidence of this.

FindMy has expanded its portfolio in regard to which animals its solutions offer surveillance to; originally only tracking sheep, FindMy now offers its services for cattle, sheep, and reindeer, allowing a new service, SaveMyReindeer, to be developed, which means that no longer is only one specific segment of the livestock market being focused on. This holds a competitive advantage over several different solutions that offer similar aspects. For example, vendors such as MooCall and Cowlar specifically offer their services for cattle, whereas FindMy allows farmers to have one solution that caters to a larger proportion of their stock, rather than several different solutions, enabling a cost-efficient manner to keep livestock in check.

Other connectivity options such as Sigfox and LoRa are used for similar solutions within the Agricultural Technology (AgTech) market, especially for livestock tracking. A benefit of the use of Low-Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks enables battery life to be prolonged, which is essential to minimize human interference. Short-range wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wouldn’t be as efficient for connecting a solution such as this is; though it has the capability of power saving, it is not efficient to be used for tracking livestock living out in the fields. For those living inside of or spending a lot of their existence in stables, however, it would be beneficial, as found with the Infsoft LocAware platform, which uses BLE to track levels of feed for individual animals. Several different satellite suppliers have a costing process in which costs are per message sent; therefore, limiting the number of messages minimizes these costs, which is a huge benefit for farmers who want to limit them.

Satellites in the Sky Shouldn't Be Overlooked


The number of satellites that are being used for Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity is a growing market and will continue to grow with the increased number of success stories that are being reported. The number of nanosatellites that are being launched is continuing to grow, and with recent launches being planned from Eutelsat—25 new nanosatellites to serve Sigfox’s generic IoT applications—it is clear that satellite connectivity is becoming more popular. Globalstar however, is not the only satellite provider offering connectivity for IoT applications, especially those used within the AgTech market. For example, Hiber offers connectivity for a variety of agricultural solutions, including irrigation systems and remote monitoring for livestock.

Another vendor offering satellite connectivity for the tracking of livestock is Lacuna, which offers the ability to save battery life, allowing data to be sent for a couple of years, which is extremely beneficial in this space where minimal human interaction is a driving point of success for AgTech solutions. Newer vendors that are entering the IoT satellite connectivity space are all working with Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, whereas Globalstar and other traditional vendors such as Inmarsat and Orbcomm are not. The use of LEO satellites over Geostationary Equatorial Orbit (GEO) satellites offers the advantages of low propagation delay and small propagation loss. Additionally, due to the distance at which GEO satellites are based, they do not offer global coverage or continuous connectivity, whereas LEO satellites do. It would be beneficial for FindMy and other service providers within this space, therefore, to consider LEO satellite connectivity to enable their ability to expand their stance within the market.

ABI Research forecasts that there will be over 24 million connections via satellite for IoT applications by 2024. However, there is room for growth in the agricultural solution sector for satellite connectivity, with forecasts predicting 1.25 million connections for agricultural applications by 2024, representing only 5% of total connections. LEO satellites offer the near real-time connectivity that farmers rely on to keep in touch with their farms, as many systems that are becoming automated and connected do not require a 24-hour communication system which, unlike terrestrial networks, satellite connectivity can offer.



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