Asset Trackers: Your Secret Weapon Against the Growing Threat of Theft

October 31, 2023

Paul Bischof Headshot
Paul Bischof

Director, Product Management


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So far, 2023 has been a bad year for cargo theft. According to CargoNet, for the first half of this year theft and related supply chain crimes are up 41%, while fictitious pickup and fraud complaints have risen 675%. Moreover, the rate of supply chain criminal activity is higher now than it has been at any time in the previous 10 years. 

Many physical operations organizations are taking steps to make their fleets safer and more secure with vehicle-based technology, such as telematics and dash cams, but that is just one part of the larger picture. Step outside the vehicle and you see a range of assets—trailers, generators, forklifts, and more—that are all targets for theft. 

Theft often spikes during holidays, particularly during the month of December, and CargoNet identified a 40% increase in theft over the last two weeks of 2022. As we approach another holiday season, it is an ideal time to reconsider asset tracking to keep your equipment and cargo safe, preserving their role in your fleet operations. 

Tags, trackers, gateways—no matter what you call them, are self-contained, battery-powered hardware which make up an important product category that can deliver significant value to both powered and unpowered assets. Here, we explain why asset trackers are highly effective for securing and maximizing the value of your equipment.

Protecting and maximizing your investments with asset tracking.

The National Equipment Register has found that equipment is nine times more likely to be stolen than vandalized and that only 21% of stolen equipment is ever recovered. Asset trackers allow organizations to quickly pinpoint where equipment is and recover it, helping to save money and avoid additional costs of assets not being available for use. 

However, theft mitigation is not the only use case where asset trackers can provide significant value. Location data from asset tracking provides visibility to help overcome other common fleet challenges, including:

  • Manual asset location. The time it takes to manually search an equipment yard for an asset may seem insignificant at first, but when you multiply that time by hundreds of assets and employees (or more), it can quickly add up. Asset trackers can help organizations find misplaced equipment quickly and save hours of valuable employee time.

  • Manual tracking of asset usage. Organizations with many assets are often in the dark about how equipment is actually being used. Asset trackers can help organizations see how frequently assets are in use and whether they have underutilized equipment that could be used more effectively or removed from the fleet.

Self-contained, battery-powered asset trackers solve many of these fleet operation challenges. No two solutions are alike, however, and to choose which platform will suit your needs, it is important to understand the key components that typically set solutions apart.

Critical design components: configurability and battery life.

Battery-powered hardware can be designed for any type of asset and can vary in size, complexity, and cost. For example, assets can be tagged with Bluetooth-only hardware, advanced rechargeable trackers, devices that use power-efficient cellular and GPS configurations, and more. To determine what type of tracker is best for an asset, organizations should consider two main factors: configurability and battery life. 

Configurability. Organizations deploy asset trackers for different purposes and in extreme conditions, from urban equipment yards to remote oil fields. To accommodate this variability, the asset tracker design must be able to support configuration changes, such as increasing the location data from occasional to very frequent, applying these changes almost on-demand, so the asset location can be located quickly in case of theft. Adapting the response timing of an asset gateway will facilitate communications with law enforcement and increase the probability of recovery. 

In another scenario, assets in geographically remote areas or those that may not move often, require the ability to extend device sleep cycles, configure actions based on motion, and minimize application usage. These changes are designed to maximize battery life and minimize preventative maintenance for hard-to-reach assets.

Moreover, in the example of transporting high-value assets, contracted transportation is often used and the asset owner requires active monitoring, including near real-time location tracking and off-course alerts. These features provide customers with the richest information during transport, and when a rechargeable solution is used, it offers an easy method to repeatedly track high-value goods. 

Battery life. Asset tracker battery life is crucial, since a depleted battery cannot provide the asset information when needed. Considering the harsh environment of physical operations, asset trackers need a best-in-class design for the various factors which impact battery life. These include:

  • Environment. Temperature impacts the performance of all batteries, so geographic region, time of day, and the season can have a significant impact on battery life.

  • Wireless networks. Asset trackers use battery power to pinpoint location, using cellular networks, Bluetooth, and GPS satellite visibility, to communicate with other IoT devices and the cloud. The installation location of the asset tracker can also impact wireless network connectivity and in turn, battery performance.

  • Hardware and software design. Embedded firmware controls the basic hardware operations and device-to-cloud applications, while electrical system design, battery chemistry, silicon components, and other design considerations also directly affect battery life. 

Asset tracking solutions that are designed from the beginning with these factors in mind ensure the solution will be available when needed to utilize and protect your assets.

The real-world benefits of Samsara Asset Gateways.

Product design that balances configurability, battery life, and overall performance helps deliver real-world impact. At Samsara, we are constantly innovating and building new capabilities to serve our customers, and recently released numerous upgrades across our portfolio of Asset Gateways (AGs). Our advanced AGs and cloud platform have helped organizations across physical operations industries achieve significant benefits, including:

  • Artera, an infrastructure services conglomerate that serves the natural gas and electric industries, identified and sold $10 million of underutilized equipment and right-sized their fleet. They also reallocated assets among their operating companies across 40 states.

  • CR Jackson, a company that serves the highway construction industry, needed a better way to track and optimize their equipment. With Samsara's new Unpowered Asset Gateways, they're able to track their equipment without wasting time and fuel locating assets in the field. In just one incident, the company saved over $120,000 by recovering a stolen skid steer loader. 

  • Liberty Energy, an oilfield services firm, needed precise, real-time location tracking data to accurately assess, charge, and remit the appropriate taxes to the taxation authorities. With Samsara and a custom integration to their tax service provider, Liberty was able to report on their equipment accurately, which they expect will save them over $10 million per year.

Learn how Samsara Asset Gateways can help you do more.

At Samsara, we understand the challenges that managing battery-powered hardware can present, as well as the opportunities asset trackers can provide to improve efficiency, cost savings, and other important business outcomes. 

If you are interested in learning more about Samsara Asset Gateways and how they can help protect your equipment or increase utilization, sign up for our webinar, “Protect Profitability by Protecting Your Assets.”


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