Knowing where a certain vehicle is located is highly useful information that vehicle manufacturers, renters, and similar operators deal with on a daily basis. Solution providers are now looking to add Bluetooth to make systems automated and more practical than ever before. Plus, these systems use data in real time.
"How many vehicles are in my lot? Have any vehicles been moved or tampered with? Where is a specific vehicle located right now?"
Vehicle presence monitoring can help managers and operators answer questions like those above. These solutions are used to decrease losses while also increasing visibility.
There are several solutions available today to track cars in a parking structure. However, many operate with fundamentally different methods and measurements. While the goal is to track vehicles in the space, some systems monitor movements, others monitor presence. Even minor differences can lead to very different results. With the rise of smart cities, smart warehouses, and the like, businesses and their customers are beginning to expect much more in terms of oversight and data. Luckily, new systems of monitoring vehicle presence are already on the market.
Problematically, the idea of a smart vehicle tracking system can sound like a futuristic product. Why would consumers need that today? Is that just another cool add-on we can expect to see at the same time we get smart grids and houses?
The answer is no, because the goal of a fully connected vehicle presence monitoring system isn't simply to make an infrastructure look more advanced. The goal is to provide real-time data that helps prevent losses, decrease wasted resources, and speed up everyday processes.
Second, the fundamental idea behind a connected vehicle presence monitoring solution isn't necessarily complex and convoluted. In fact, many of these solutions are quite simple. Technology may even make these systems easier to manage than ever before.
There are three common goals when monitoring vehicles on a car lot or factory area.
Reduce time to locate a car
Imagine you're looking for your car in a large lot and you've almost entirely forgotten where you parked. It's frustrating and time consuming. For manufacturers and large park operators, simply finding a vehicle is a struggle on a completely new level. First, they have near-identical assets to sort through. Second, employees are locating multiple cars each day. This takes away from their core work time that should be devoted elsewhere. That means resources are wasted every time an employee has to spend extra time locating a vehicle. This can also keep either customers or other employees waiting.
Both total car theft and inappropriate vehicle usage (like joyriding) can be huge liabilities for operators and managers. Whether it's large losses from stolen vehicles or small ones from inappropriate usage, the fallout from poor security is serious. Vehicles are highly sensitive, expensive assets, and making them secure is paramount for keeping costs down.
How many vehicles are in a car park at any given moment? How many spaces are free in a given wing? This information helps customers trying to find a space. It also helps managers or operators know about current capacities, changes, and inventory. In fact, by monitoring specific vehicle movements, an operator can easily track exactly which vehicles are where in their lot.
For some scenarios, particularly customer-facing ones like public car parks, sensors are often used to monitor when a car drives through a particular chokepoint. Of course, this means only specific changes can be registered—a car has either gone in our out through a specific space. Understanding anything that happened before or after is not possible without an additional solution.
Other solutions include passive technology like QR codes. These cheap codes are practical when you have employees ready to monitor each vehicles or asset as it comes and goes. Like barcodes, they are simply scanned with a reader and logged. That also means, should the vehicle code not be scanned properly, its movement will go unrecorded. This poses a huge threat to reliable security and also leaves open the possibility for human error.
That's why active technologies like active RFID exist. These tags can be read at a much longer distance, meaning there's no need for an employee to physically come over and scan a code. In this instance, however, greater usability comes at a cost. RFID readers are expensive, and one can easily cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.
Finally, we have Bluetooth which operates much like the active RFID described above. No need to scan each vehicle. Instead, every tag is actively monitored and data sent to the cloud on a regular basis. These readers are much more affordable, usually around just $100 for a reader.
In other words: It’s estimated that the total first-year costs for a 1000-unit active RFID real time location system, including software and hardware, can easily reach up to $39,100. The cost of implementing that same system with Bluetooth beacons hovers around $10,890.
Depending on your particular use case, you may be better off with a cheap and simple QR code method. You may opt to mix a few of the above solutions together. Or you may choose a complete Bluetooth infrastructure to do the job for you.
By attaching a Bluetooth tag to each vehicle, cars can be monitored either by movement or simply over time. That means, should the vehicle move, that information will be automatically recorded. It can also trigger a predefined alert like an email or message. Similarly, they can also be constantly monitored. That means operators can enjoy real-time data on exactly which cars are where, how many vehicles are in an area, and more. By adding analytics, solution providers can turn this basic information into something more: how efficient are employees? How much time do we waste moving vehicles? Where are bottlenecks occurring?