The Benefits of Aggregating Condition-Based Monitoring and Asset Tracking Solutions

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3Q 2022 | IN-6621

Condition-Based Monitoring (CBM) and asset tracking are typically two separate Internet of Things (IoT) markets, but the combination of the two is being adopted for cold chain monitoring, which may influence other asset tracking companies to implement CBM.

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Cold Chain Monitoring Setting the Trend


The cold chain monitoring market has set the tone for companies to be interested in having Condition-Based Monitoring (CBM), in addition to tracking their assets. Cold chain monitoring has been the largest market for these combined solutions and was driven by the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines need to be stored at very low temperatures, so a basic tracking solution that just shows the location of the product is not fully sufficient. If the vaccine were to be stored in an environment outside of its very necessary conditions, the doses would become ineffective. Other industries saw the benefits of monitoring their assets as they are being tracked and have shown increased demand for both solutions to be offered together.

Increasing Demand for Monitoring Tracked Assets


After the successful implementation of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, other industries realized that they could also benefit from more than just tracking solutions and could fill the gap in the distribution process where they haven’t been able to monitor their product. The perishable foods market is seeing increased adoption and demand for condition monitoring throughout the entirety of the supply chain. There are large amounts of food that reach the retailer and are unsellable due to poor shipping and handling conditions. Monitoring the environmental conditions of the vehicle the items are in, as well as the status of the box or container that the food is in, will enable all interested parties to be more proactive in fixing the problem. Additionally, the increased transparency allows for more liability when things do go wrong, so companies will be influenced to take better care of the products as they are shipping them. The companies on both ends of the supply chain may also be able to make more efficient transactions when there are damaged products and divert some charges to the party that mishandled them.

In each interested industry, a large barrier to adoption has been the instability of the global economy due to factors like inflation and the war in Ukraine. Companies have been wary about implementing new innovations that would require more resources and capital during this time. There is no shortage of interest in implementing CBM in asset tracking applications, but ABI Research does envision slow adoption due to companies tightening their budgets and homing in on products consistent with their core business models.

Usage of Blockchain for Immutable Status Updates


Even with increasing demand of condition monitoring with asset tracking solutions, it will still take some time before there is enough sensor implementation to gather all the information that companies are seeking. ABI Research recommends that asset tracking companies look for partnerships or other effective ways to implement CBM in their asset tracking solutions, as well as industry-wide adoption of blockchain technologies.

A new innovative solution would be implementing blockchain technology into supply chains. Once there are enough sensors implemented and more intelligent software programs, this will enable automated and immutable uploads of status updates and checkpoints of where the asset is going, ensuring the necessary conditions are maintained. In the current state of advancements, shipping and distribution companies have to manually log checkpoints and status updates of shipments, which can lead to false logs, whether that is purposeful or not. An automated upload to the blockchain would take human error out of the equation and ensure that the uploaded data can never be altered. Again, this can allow companies to pinpoint liability for parties that mishandled the products and view all relevant information from past and current shipments.

The main challenges that are holding back widespread adoption of blockchain technology is that there is still a lack of knowledge of blockchain’s benefits, especially outside of payment use cases, and the entire supply chain would need to be using the blockchain for its benefits to be apparent. If only half of the parties involved in the supply chain are using blockchain, then it is not worth the extra cost to the parties that are using it. The problems occurring with the product will still not be easily identified unless every single company is using it. Once there is a better knowledge base of blockchain technologies, there will be greater adoption of CBM solutions in the asset tracking market.