A Guide to Tracking Unpowered Assets

April 29, 2021

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Key Takeaways

GPS tracking protects your business’ assets with security and asset management, and unpowered assets adds the complication of requiring its own power source. With Samsara’s GPS tracking solutions, you get a tracker that is as durable as your assets themselves with long battery life and an array of functionality.

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GPS tracking offers a number of benefits, including increasing margins by reducing operating costs and increasing asset utilization with real-time visibility across your fleet. When the assets are unpowered, your tracking solution must rely on its own power source while still offering the same location and security benefits needed for your fleet.

What is an unpowered asset?

An unpowered asset could be a trailer, but in industries like construction, field services, utilities, state/local government, and equipment rental companies, there is a wide range of equipment, containers, and more that would be considered an unpowered asset.

These can include:

  • Containers

  • Dumpsters

  • Portable toilets

  • Specialized construction or field equipment

  • City maintenance equipment (such as snow plows)

These unpowered assets can all serve essential, often specialized, roles for your operations and they can be a fairly substantial financial investment. If an asset has no power and can’t move on its own, you may not prioritize installing a GPS tracking solution to track them, but the truth is that often unpowered assets are the ones that need tracking the most.

Since unpowered assets aren’t always in use, they are often either rented out (which can help offset the up front cost of purchasing the asset) or stored on-site, often out in the elements. Losing an asset because it was rented and never returned or returned late can be very costly, but even if it’s in your yard, tracking down one piece of equipment can hurt your bottom line. The time it can take to track down a snow plow—for example—that you haven’t needed from spring through autumn can cause delays, especially if there is an urgent and unexpected need for that asset. For these reasons and more, it is important to have an easy way to track down your unpowered assets in a timely and efficient way.

How does unpowered asset tracking work?

For assets that don’t have their own power source like rail cars, select construction equipment, dumpsters, containers, and portable toilets, you need asset tracking that can power itself. Unpowered asset trackers like the ones Samsara offers operate off of lithium batteries and perform scheduled check-ins through cellular networks. 

This is ideal for monitoring unpowered assets where real-time tracking would be unnecessary, especially for smaller assets that can be easy to miss in a yard with much larger equipment. By only sending daily updates, unpowered asset trackers minimize battery usage while promoting stronger asset management. This means that you will have battery power to find your assets when you need them. 

Unpowered Asset Tracker

Here are some other ways that asset trackers can improve your operations:

  • Partner visibility: For trailers specifically, being able to report the latest from your GPS asset provides your customers peace of mind.

  • Asset protection: Geo-fencing — a virtual perimeter that you set — can help protect your assets from theft or unauthorized use by alerting you and anyone you designate if your non-powered assets go past the boundaries.

  • Optimized asset scheduling: Managing inventory can be challenging with large fleets, but with GPS tracking metrics, dispatchers can easily see which assets are working which jobs and creates schedules of your leased assets so you’ll never accidentally double book machines you need.

  • Automated, real-time data: Manual tracking is time-consuming and inefficient, but the right GPS tracker can save you time and money with a more efficient, data driven way to track assets.

  • Asset utilization: Unpowered assets come with significant cost in terms of maintenance, insurance, and storage costs. Having GPS tracking information can let you know if your unpowered assets are being used so you can optimize for efficient utilization and maximize potential to drive revenue from renting out your assets for use.

How do Samsara customers track their unpowered asset inventory?

To get a better idea of how unpowered asset tracking helps inventory management, let’s look at one of our successful customers, ACV Enviro. This fully integrated environmental services and waste management organization manages mostly roll-off containers that were built for hazardous waste work, but they also own assets including generators, tankers, light towers, and even boats. With an extensive inventory of more than 1,000 assets, ranging in cost from $3,000 to more than $500,000, losing track of even one asset would be very costly.

This was a notable problem with their traditional paper and spreadsheet approach to asset tracking, but thanks to Samsara’s tracking solutions, they were able to get a better handle on their inventory. They started with the AG46 asset tracker, giving them the GPS tracking they needed for their unpowered assets. With Samsara’s Time on Site Report and geofencing, they improved billing and revenue by being able to demonstrate how long any asset was on their customers’ job site. And, with Utilization Reports, ACV Enviro could better evaluate their inventory, giving them the data to make more informed budgeting decisions.

How do Samsara unpowered asset trackers offer even more value?

We know that our customers depend on heavy-duty, high-cost equipment on a daily basis, so losing even just a single piece of that equipment is not an option. This is why our AG46 unpowered asset trackers are built with:

  • A durable, waterproof shell that will outlast the harshest conditions.

  • Anti-theft screws and a custom screw bit.

  • An easily camouflaged surface designed to bond with any standard spray paint.

  • Cellular connectivity with purpose-built LTE-M capabilities to keep you connected in the most remote locations.

  • Long-lasting lithium batteries that last up to 3 years.

Our purpose-built hardware is coupled with all of the functionality you’d expect from a non-powered asset tracker and much more. Here are some of the benefits that the AG46 offers:

  • Affordable asset tracking: Our unpowered asset trackers are available at a competitive price and designed to protect your mobile assets, even when they are left at public construction sites or leased out.

  • Lost or stolen asset detection and recovery: In cases of theft or unauthorized use, our easy-to-use, customizable geofence alerts will contact you via email or SMS the moment your asset moves outside of designated areas.

  • Automatic inventory and dormancy reports: Our tracker syncs with Samsara’s cloud-based dashboard, giving you automated inventory reporting and a visual map of all of your assets in one place, eliminating the need for manual inventory checks.

  • Long battery life for unpowered use: The included batteries are replaceable and last up to 3 years with 2 check-ins per day, enabling long-term monitoring of assets leased out or left on job sites for years at a time.

  • Easy installation: With a weatherproof and water-resistant design (IP69K rating), the AG46 can be installed on any mobile asset in less than 5 minutes using either durable, high strength tape or anti-theft screws.

To learn more about how Samsara asset tracking can help you successfully track your unpowered assets, reach out for a free trial or learn more about the technology today.

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