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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


New Tech Tuesdays: Track Assets with these LoRaWAN® Solutions Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist and Mouser technical content specialist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

You wouldn't think tracking a wooden pallet would be that big a deal. But on an industrial scale—such as home and building, healthcare, agriculture, food services, and industrial and logistics markets—asset tracking is crucial, even when it comes to pallets. 

It's good business to be able to monitor equipment and inventory accurately.

That's where a Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN®) can help. LoRaWAN® is a low-power open standard protocol designed to connect battery-operated wireless devices, such as end nodes or sensor devices, to the internet. LoRaWAN® networks, which are typically deployed in a star-of-stars topology, use the medium access control (MAC) layer protocol to manage the communication between end-node devices and the low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) gateways. They then relay the data to a cloud-based network server via Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or cellular.

In short, it helps you keep track of wooden pallets. But, obviously, LoRaWAN® can do much more. LoRaWAN® can cast a wide communications net, which leads to more effective wireless monitoring and management.

This week's New Tech Tuesdays highlights two LoRaWAN® products available to designers for solution-based development.

Tracking Solutions from Laird Connectivity, Semtech

Laird Connectivity Sentrius™ RG191+LTE Series LoRaWAN-Enabled Gateway (Figure 1) is a product with as many diverse uses as the name is long. This scalable gateway has a range of up to 10 miles, ideal for tracking assets spread across a vast facility, such as a warehouse or campus. The device can gather sensor data that can be sent to the cloud over a cellular network that sidesteps the need for a local internet connection. Laird's WB50NBT wireless bridge certified module also has design-friendly enterprise-grade dual-band Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet.

Figure 1: Laird Connectivity Sentrius™ RG191+LTE Series LoRaWAN-Enabled Gateway can gather sensor data that can be sent to the cloud over a cellular network that sidesteps the need for a local internet connection. (Source: Laird Connectivity)

Semtech LR1110 LoRa Edge™ Tracker Reference Designs (Figure 2) provide another asset management solution. It's a versatile hardware, software, and services platform comprised of three components–LoRa Edge transceiver, the embedded LoRa Basics Modem-E software, and LoRa Cloud™. The transceiver uses Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) tracking for outdoor applications and Wi-Fi passive scanning for tracking indoor assets. This enables comprehensive tracking on a single chip. Developers can design applications to monitor asset location, traceability, loss and recovery, and location-based tracking. Designers can develop a tracker system without license fees.

Figure 2: Semtech LR1110 LoRa Edge™ Tracker Reference Designs provide a versatile hardware, software, and services platform. (Source: Semtech)

Conclusion

Businesses will always need accountability of their assets, whether for inventory management or protecting them from loss. As more industries develop their distribution segments—either through demand or pandemic reasons—accurate asset tracking is important, even if it's tracking something as small as a wood pallet. 



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Tommy CummingsTommy Cummings is a senior technical content specialist at Mouser Electronics in Mansfield, Texas. Tommy joined Mouser in 2018 after a journalism career that included The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. At one time, he was actually a Heisman Trophy voter. He can be followed on Twitter at @tommycummings or on LinkedIn.


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