Global Fleet Tracking Solution Combines 2.4GHz And 868/915MHz RF Technology From Nordic Semiconductor To Track And Monitor Asset Trains As Long As 100m
By using proprietary Nordic nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz and nRF905 868/915MHz transceivers, the ChisFleet global fleet tracking solution from AgoraBee monitors valuable assets such as skips, trailers, trucks, and their cargo using RFID-style RF tags that can run for up to five years from a coin cell at a solution cost that AgoraBee claims is 10x lower than traditional GPS-based alternatives
Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA recently announces that AgoraBee S.A. has further developed what it claims is the world's lowest cost global fleet tracking and monitoring solution by combining short-range 2.4GHz and longer range 868/915MHz Nordic RF technology to increase the maximum length of tracked asset trains such as skips, trailers, trucks, and their cargo, from 50m (2.4GHz) up to 100m (868/915MHz).
In operation, the ChisFleet solution employs Nordic nRF24L01+ (2.4GHz) and nRF905 (868/915MHz) transceivers embedded into lightweight (25g) matchbox-sized (5.1 x 4.7 x 1.0cm) dual frequency RF ID tags mounted on, for example, a cargo trailer, pallet, or box. These tags continuously communicate 'I'm here' status info (typically once every 10 seconds) to a new truck-side mounted dual-frequency control receiver (which AgoraBee says is a simple and quick upgrade for existing users of its previous 2.4GHz-only system) that can automatically monitor the presence of all tags regardless of their transmitting carrier frequency.
The control receiver is powered by the truck battery and has a built-in GSM/GPRS module that automatically tags GPS position to inventory data before it is sent via GPRS to a remote application server on the Internet.
An AgoraBee-developed propriety radio protocol ensures security, and allied with the use of a unique ID code for each tag and advanced networking utilizing the nRF24L01+ and nRF905's ability to rapidly wake from - and drop back into - an ultra low power sleep mode (as low as 900nA) within milliseconds (see 'About nRF24L01+' and 'About nRF905' below for more info), several hundred tags can be used in close proximity and run from a regular CR2032 coin cell (watch battery) power source for up to five years due to the low duty cycle of the application.
"Asset tracking remains a costly and complex issue for many companies," claims AgoraBee R&D Director, Dr. Louis Harik. "GPS modem trackers are bulky, heavy, difficult and expensive to replace if damaged, and can only run off a battery for several hours at a time so also need frequent - read: 'expensive' - manual maintenance and monitoring as well. Passive RFID chips although less costly - are also not ideal as they require manually-operated [so prone to human-error and expensive] readers. And ZigBee really hasn't taken off at all in this market as it's just too complex for what is essentially a fairly simple application."
Harik continues: "In contrast our existing 2.4GHz fully-automated solution is dramatically simpler and up 10x lower cost than, for example, current GPS alternatives, but was limited to a maximum 50m range that limited its use in some applications - such as temperature monitoring of long refrigerator trailers or fixed assets [e.g. valuable or IP-sensitive tools] tracking in warehouses and factories. These applications needed a even longer range beyond the technological capabilities of 2.4GHz but the same ultra low power characteristics.
"The solution was to develop a Nordic-based 2.4GHz and 868/915MHz combo extension to our original product that was also completely backward compatible so that existing customers could add combo tags with ease to their existing installations and keep their existing 2.4GHz tags by simply upgrading their control receivers to a newer dual-frequency design."
"This novel combination of Nordic 2.4GHz and 868/915MHz RF technology with GPS capabilities is a refreshing reminder that proprietary ISM-band communications still have the technological capability to support the development of new solutions to old problems in a wide range of industries," comments Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing.
SOURCE: Nordic Semiconductor