TECHNOLOGY

Cloud Service for Logistics Asset Management

MonoTra™

New Logistics Management Cloud Service MonoTra™ Improves Position Data Accuracy and Simplifies System Development and Operation

Ongoing Improvements to Logistics Asset Management Services

Alps Alpine is advancing development of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for management of logistics assets, applying technologies built up over the years in fields such as sensing, wireless communication and packaging. Our Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker device has been in mass production since 2019 and we have teamed up with Sigfox S.A. and KYOCERA Communication Systems Co., Ltd. to deploy a Logistics Asset Tracking System.
The Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker operates only in specific situations, such as when a vehicle loaded with assets moves or stops, and it has an original built-in motion algorithm for effective position detection. A global IoT network with outstanding performance in terms of low cost, low power consumption and long-range transmission also combines with many years of package design expertise established through electronic components business to realize a groundbreaking 10 years’ continuous operation without charging1 and seamless indoor and outdoor location monitoring. So far, more than 250,000 units of the Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker have been shipped, with a large number of corporations outside Japan adopting the device, including Deutsche Post DHL. In Japan, AGC Inc. uses the product to track pallets used in the transportation of glass.
Alps Alpine will not stop there as we are continually adding to these achievements, attending to the needs of customers through ongoing advancement of logistics asset management solutions. We have made efforts to heighten the accuracy of position data within a variety of transportation environments both in Japan and overseas and to enhance the service, for example through provision of information to be used in logistics management visualization.

1 Assuming 1.6 measurements a day

Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker

Development of a New Cloud Service – MonoTra™

Now Alps Alpine has created a new cloud service called “MonoTra™.” Launched in spring 2021, MonoTra™ employs a Precision Location positioning solution2 provided by world-leading location technology provider Skyhook Wireless, Inc. The system also incorporates new positioning technology and approaches in line with various findings reached through the verification process. This serves to enhance position data accuracy and simplify system development and operation. We deliver an advanced solution that interacts at a high level with the earlier system encompassing the Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker and Sigfox. Here we explain how the service works and ways it might be used.

(1) Attach a Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker to each logistics asset (e.g. roll cages, pallets).
(2) Accelerometers and timers inside Long-Lifetime Asset Trackers detect specific patterns of movement by each logistics asset.
(3) MAC addresses3 of two Wi-Fi® access points4 near each Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker are obtained.
(4) The MAC addresses are sent to a Sigfox cloud via Sigfox base stations.
(5) Sigfox base station information is used to estimate the location of each Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker.

The MonoTra™ service covers the following:
(6) Data received from each Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker and location estimations are sent to a database on Alps Alpine’s cloud.
(7) Using Skyhook’s Precision Location solution, MAC addresses obtained in (3) are referenced to make a more detailed estimate of the location of each Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker.
(8) Information (latitude, longitude, time, etc.) is obtained through access to the Alps Alpine’s cloud.
*The customer can then use business intelligence or other tools to visualize and analyze the data, for example as time series maps or as key performance indicators for stagnation analysis or application to business efficiency improvements.

2 A system using Wi-Fi®, GNSS and cellular signals to locate devices in any environment (initially, MonoTra™ will use only Wi-Fi® signals)
3 Unique identifiers assigned to each network device
4 Wireless devices used to send and receive Wi-Fi® signals

Overcoming Obstacles to Your Business – What Is the MonoTra™ Service?

Loss and overconcentration of assets like roll cages and pallets are long-standing problems for the logistics industry. Many operators must be agonizing over the cost and workload generated by having to restock those assets. Visualization through the deployment of IoT technology is an effective way to improve the efficiency of business processes but developing and operating such a system is another issue. An increase in cumbersome tasks simply adds to the workload of operators. Alps Alpine’s logistics tracking system was developed to help resolve various problems experienced in logistics operations.
To give customers an idea of how the system works, Alps Alpine has prepared samples of a management app for use with PCs or smartphones. Customers can even start out by sampling MonoTra™ and Long-Lifetime Asset Trackers free of charge for a two-week period. Also feel free to inquire about visualization tools. Trial these samples during the proof-of-concept stage to appreciate the operational benefits of high-accuracy location information, easy system development and operation, and business process visualization and efficiency improvement. Alps Alpine will also discuss with you your individual issues and the functionality you are looking for before putting forward an optimal solution.

PC management app sample

Smartphone management app sample

Innovative Features of MonoTra™

Further Improvements to Position Data Accuracy

The goal of MonoTra™ is to achieve accurate detection of logistics assets wherever they are while keeping power consumption and costs down. The system improves the accuracy of location information using a Skyhook Wireless Precision Location solution, with access to Skyhook data on billions of Wi-Fi® access points worldwide. An Alps Alpine cloud environment also offers benefits for optimizing location management through customization, allowing customers to directly register Wi-Fi® access point MAC addresses and position information that they require to operate.
As a result, the success rate and accuracy of position data acquisition both in Japan and elsewhere has improved. The system accurately tracks items moving both indoors and outdoors, even when the communication environment is not always reliable. Additionally, location information need not be limited to just dots on maps, instead providing detail closely aligned to the tasks at hand, such as the floor level an asset is on inside a building.

Success and accuracy of position data acquisition is improved by using a private database in addition to the global database

Simplified System Development and Operation

Effort has gone into making the service easy to use to both lessen the workload for operators and help improve operational efficiency. Using MonoTra™, customers no longer need to perform cumbersome tasks such as entering into a network contract, registering devices, or building a data acquisition system.
An original application programming interface (API)5 providing already-processed data is also available, making it easier for customers to visualize information provided by the Long-Lifetime Asset Trackers. As push data, high-accuracy position information and status information (message type, battery, internal temperature, etc.) are sent separately to the customer. Group and device type information can also be added to the data. Pull data, sent in response to requests from the customer, includes detailed management and position information stored in the databases. A diverse range of new features dramatically simplifies system development and operation.

5 An interface enabling sharing of functionality among different software

(1) Push data communication: Regular sending of high-accuracy position data and device status information
(2) Pull data communication: Sending of information following requests from the customer

Alongside the Long-Lifetime Asset Tracker, harnessing strengths from the electronic components business, new cloud service MonoTra™ allows Alps Alpine to deliver a more comprehensive solution aligned closely with the customer. Feel free to inquire about how we can assist you with effective management of logistics assets, cost reductions and improvements to operational efficiency.

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