White paper: M2M for Mobile
Power to you
An opportunity for every enterprise ..................................................3
What challenges are businesses facing? ..........................................4
Implementation considerations ..........................................................7
Industry applications .............................................................................8
Our solution ............................................................................................ 10
Why Vodafone? ....................................................................................... 11
M2M Mobile Asset Tracking
What is M2M?
Machine to machine (M2M)
communication is what happens
when white goods, shipping
containers, security cameras,
TVs, industrial machinery, drinks
coolers, cars — in fact, nearly
any fixed or mobile assets — are
connected. Using M2M, these
assets can send and receive data
and requests to each other and
to central management systems,
autonomously and often in real
time, opening up a whole new world
of opportunities for business agility
An opportunity for
M2M is a growing market – Gartner1 has predicted that by 2020 we will see a 30-fold
increase in the number of connected devices to 26 billion and 78% of organisations see
M2M adoption as crucial to business success2. The increasing maturity and adoption
of M2M has seen enterprises, and C-level executives in particular, becoming more
knowledgeable about the benefits of connected devices and the possibilities they offer.
Much of that growth has come from mobile asset tracking, which according to IDC3 is the
next big M2M opportunity.
Asset tracking enables companies to track the physical location and status of any asset
owned, managed or manufactured by their business. It has been typically associated
with logistics and shipping firms, who use this type of M2M connectivity to track delivery
vehicles and containers.
But mobile asset tracking is now increasingly used by businesses in other industries to
track the whereabouts of individual assets such as reusable pallets, healthcare equipment,
building materials, construction equipment, perishable supply chain goods and consumer
Changing how you do business
For the most part, asset tracking has been used to fix problems – theft and loss of valuable
assets, inefficient processes and poor operational performance. But mobile asset tracking
also has the potential to change how companies do business. And the early adopters
of mobile asset tracking will be leading the way when it comes to using this technology
as a platform for product innovation and new service offerings such as just-in-time (JIT)
assurance, employee safety, process automation, supply chain optimisation and sales
Take for example, a manufacturer sending products and parts overseas to a retailer.
M2M devices with location sensors can be attached to the shipping container, or to the
individual products themselves, so that the manufacturer can track the movement of the
shipment. This enables the manufacturer to provide the retailer with an accurate delivery
time, avoiding any unnecessary delays for either company. It also means that certain
processes can be automated, such as issuing invoices, which can be done as soon as the
tracking device detects that the delivery has been made.
2. The M2M adoption barometer 2013, Vodafone
3. IDC 2013: Machine-to-Machine (M2M): Where Is the Market Opportunity in Europe?
Operational efficiency and productivity
Business are frequently looking for ways to save money by streamlining their operations
and reducing overheads. Tracking mobile assets enables companies to identify where
they can cut costs, improve processes and increase productivity.
Petrol prices have gone up by almost 50% since 20095, which is a significant financial
burden for any organisation that’s heavily reliant on a fleet of vehicles.
A mobile asset tracking solution can combine location data about each van, cab, trailer
ship and aeroplane with mapping, live traffic data and upcoming job details to assign
routes more efficiently. This can cut fuel costs by eliminating unnecessary mileage and
idling, and maximise vehicle utilisation through backloading and shipment consolidation.
No organisation is perfect – products go missing from deliveries, equipment gets stolen
or moved without being recorded, and distribution vehicles get stuck in traffic. The knock-
on effects are that companies have to deal with angry customers, delayed production
lines and rising replacement costs. Being able to quickly locate assets as and when you
need to will help to speed up business processes and operations.
Increasing visibility across a company’s portfolio of assets will mean businesses can
develop more accurate, tighter supply chains. The combination of location and status
data means companies can better control and manage their stock, so there will be
fewer delays on production lines or when waiting for shipments, as well as less waste in
warehouses from overordering.
Downtime of vehicles, production machinery or other equipment can have a detrimental
impact on creativity and incur costs. Mobile asset tracking provides a foundation for
remote maintenance and control services, which enable businesses to monitor the
condition of assets and take a proactive approach to maintenance. Sensors on a tracking
device can send an alert at the very first sign of a problem, so that an engineer can be
What challenges are
IDC4 found that the top business priorities in 2014 are boosting
productivity, reducing operational costs, and improving energy
efficiency and sustainability. Asset tracking can help with all of these
challenges and more.
4. IDC European Vertical Markets Survey, October 2013
With an asset tracking solution
• Track your assets worldwide:
there are various tracking devices
designed for all assets, from
shipping containers to industrial
• Gain insight into your operations
to guide efficiency improvements
and reduce your carbon footprint
• Monitor the condition of
assets to simplify preventative
maintenance and improve uptime
• Reduce theft and loss of both
operational and supply chain
• Improve the safety and security
of goods in transit
M2M Mobile Asset Tracking
Asset theft and loss
Theft is a major issue for many industries, and the cost can be a
substantial burden on any business that manages a large portfolio
of high-value assets. Construction companies, for example, operate
a lot of expensive plant equipment which is susceptible to theft.
A universal issue
Research from insurance group Allianz Cornhill6 found that in
2012, £70 million of equipment was stolen from construction
sites in the UK alone. And total costs (hiring and buying
replacement equipment, loss of business, etc.) come to over £800
million a year.
This is just one example of an industry suffering from asset theft,
but the problem is universal and one that is likely to have an
impact on the service that companies can offer their customers.
The whereabouts of assets is often time-critical, and their
unavailability could impact revenue or customer satisfaction.
Asset tracking can help to improve security by enabling
businesses to see the location of their assets at any given time.
Increased visibility means companies can see when assets are
diverted from their planned routes or removed from pre-set geo-
With an improved asset recovery rate, companies will benefit
from less downtime and can save money on the cost of buying
replacements. Having a more secure portfolio of assets also means
businesses are likely to see a reduction in insurance premiums.
Safety and security
Haulage firms responsible for the shipping of controlled and
hazardous substances, such as armaments and pharmaceuticals,
or perishable goods, have additional requirements to consider. It is
more critical that deliveries are made within specific timeframes,
and that companies have visibility of their assets at all times.
Wastage and contamination
WRAP7 estimates that in the UK alone, waste costs businesses
in the food and drink supply chain £5 billion a year. This is due
to products not reaching their destination in time because of
inefficient delivery operations, or because they have been stored
at the wrong temperature, leading to spoilage.
There are also concerns about contamination when goods are
on the move – food provenance has becoming a hot topic for
retailers, food and drink manufacturers need to know exactly what
is happening at every stage of supply and production, from “field
Data from an asset tracking solution can also be used to inform an
audit trail, as the information captured can prove where an asset
has been and how it has been treated. Devices are able to monitor
shock, tilt and temperature variables, providing companies with
provenance indicators for all of their assets.
Many enterprises are looking for ways to improve sustainability,
which for the most part means becoming more energy efficient
and reducing carbon emissions. The same improvements in
efficiency from a mobile asset tracking solution that save money
also tend to reduce emissions.
Organisations managing a fleet can reduce emissions through
more efficient routing. Visibility of the entire fleet around
the clock can help companies minimise the number of miles
travelled, increase the use of congestion-free routes and
improve vehicle utilisation, all of which will help to reduce fuel
Tracking devices can also be used to transmit driving behaviour
data. Companies can see how fast their drivers are accelerating,
how hard they’re braking and whether they’re being economical
with fuel usage.
Companies that have been able to reduce their manufacturing
processes through tightening their supply chains, are also likely to
see a drop in carbon emissions. Getting more out of your existing
trucks means you don’t need to spend as much money on new
ones and also reduces manufacturing activity, which will help to
A foundation for innovation
As well as the immediate benefits, asset tracking can also help
you transform the way that you do business. The insights you
get into your business from the data collected by a tracking
device can be used as a platform for growth, with the potential for
innovation and new service development.
For example, with the ability to see all the journeys your assets
have taken over the course of a year, you can decide where to
open a new delivery office, a new stock depot or warehouse.
It will also give you a much clearer idea of how long certain
journeys take and which routes will be quicker. There are an
increasing number of retailers offering one-hour time slots, and an
asset tracking solution can help you remain competitive through
more accurate delivery times and by enabling your customers to
track their deliveries from start to finish.
Imagine you’re a manufacturer hiring out equipment to
construction companies. To improve asset utilisation, a mobile
tracking device with a sensor will tell you when equipment is
lying idle at one site, and can be moved to another one where
it is needed. The location tracker will also show you the nearest
available piece of equipment, so that transport time can be kept
to a minimum.
Understanding where and when companies are using your
products can help to drive innovation in your business. Your
tracking solution can show you how products are being used and
where they are failing, which can be fed into your research and
development. It can help you spot market needs you may have
been unaware of, and identify new customers. The data can also
help shape your warranty processes, as well as your sales and
Giving companies the ability to track all of their
mobile assets provides not only process efficiencies
which hit the top and bottom line, but also helps to
move them ever closer to becoming a truly connected
Johan Fagerberg, Co-Founder and Principal Analyst,
M2M Mobile Asset Tracking
There are an increasing number of options on the M2M market, but
to deliver the results and ROI you need, your mobile asset tracking
solution has to fit your business.
The right approach
As the market grows, we are seeing improved network connectivity and increasing
maturity of M2M management platforms. This has led to a heightened awareness of asset
tracking and of the benefits this type of solution can offer to businesses. M2M technology
and its various applications are becoming increasingly widespread.
As a result organisations now have access to asset tracking solutions that can offer better
coverage and more insight into their business. It also means that asset tracking is more
affordable for companies, and it is therefore easier to make a business case for adoption.
However, there are factors to consider in any solution deployment.
Cost and investment
As with any technology investment, a sound business case is critical. As well as
factoring in the capital and operating expenses associated with devices and network
connectivity, you’ll need to get a full estimate of all the savings and other benefits you
expect to see. These may be easy to forecast and to measure — for instance, the capital
purchase of replacement equipment due to avoided theft, or estimated reductions in
fuel consumption. Others may be less direct and require more work to measure, such as
increased staff and asset utilization, reduced delay and downtime across the supply chain,
or ultimately increases in customer satisfaction. But these factors can make a significant
contribution to ROI.
Many may also have reservations because of the perceived complexity of the technology,
and the difficulty of integrating it into existing supply chain applications. The question “will
it cause more problems than it fixes?” is not uncommon, but most solutions have been
designed to integrate into existing systems and into your existing processes via APIs.
Managing an international portfolio of assets can also throw up the question of coverage
– can an M2M tracking solution provide the large-scale coverage needed and will it
be reliable? In the past businesses may have felt that there isn’t enough choice on the
market, but the number of global solution providers is growing, It’s important to partner
with a provider than can offer the coverage and technology to meet your business needs.
Looking to the future
There’s a blurred line between
where asset tracking stops and
other M2M applications start. For
a large number of organisations,
mobile asset tracking could just
be the beginning, the foundation
for a move into areas such as
remote monitoring and control,
fleet management, supply chain
automation and connected
Further business data analytics and
business process automation could
lead to a new level of customer
service as well as bigger reductions
in operational costs. And the beauty
of M2M and working with a global
M2M partner is that while you
might need additional sensors for
different applications, you only
need to have the connectivity put in
place once per asset.
Construction equipment is often kept on building sites for the duration of a project and can be susceptible to
theft. With an M2M tracking solution you can set a geo-fence for your assets so you will be alerted when a piece
of equipment is moved outside of your specified boundary. Asset tracking devices can also help you follow the
movements of building materials when they’re being transported between factories, warehouses and building
sites. This will help you to plan deliveries more accurately, so that projects can run more efficiently.
Products in the manufacturing industry can be vulnerable to theft when in transit between factories, warehouses
and customers — even if you use a reliable third-party logistics firm or run your own fleets in-house. Using an
M2M tracking solution means your security teams can always know the exact location of materials, individual
products or containers, and can be alerted if anything has been tampered with so you can investigate
The traceability of military components, materials and equipment is critical – you need to know where your
assets are, and have been at any given time, so that you can provide an audit trail and prevent equipment from
being stolen. Military budgets are under public scrutiny, and therefore operational efficiency is essential, but
this is difficult when defence supply chains are constantly changing shape depending on the mission. An M2M
tracking solution provides round-the-clock visibility, enabling you to reduce theft and prove where assets have
been. It can help to map out more efficient routes and automate some logistics processes.
Your vans and trucks keep the world’s goods moving. Whether you’re carrying pallets or parcels, the function
you play is critical to consumers, companies and governments alike. But to stand out in the logistics market you
need to increase delivery speed and reliability with features such as real-time shipment tracking, and same-day
delivery to customers. An M2M connected tracking device can give real-time information about where each
shipment is on its route from port to warehouse to customer, giving your staff instant visibility into the status of
the delivery. You can also use this information to plan staffing levels and vehicle scheduling.
M2M Mobile Asset Tracking
Being able to trace products from distribution centre to store, or to a customer’s address, means you can more
accurately predict timings for deliveries – no more waiting at home all day for a product to turn up that isn’t even
scheduled for delivery. With up-to-the-minute location data you can offer your customers real-time shipment
tracking and same-day delivery, improving your service and giving you an advantage over your competitors. Asset
tracking can also help you to reduce the risk of theft while goods are in transit, and can help with stock counting
and stock replenishment. The data from asset tracking will also show you where you can streamline logistics
throughout your entire supply chain, helping your business to cut costs.
From residents’ wheelie bins, to lawn mowers for public parks, to equipment and vehicles used in road
maintenance, as a government organisation you could have any number of assets that need to be tracked. Not
only will a tracking solution help you to reduce theft of these assets, the information provided by tracking devices
will enable you to prove where certain assets have been re-used, and will give you their location at any given time.
Installing M2M sensors in your maintenance vehicles allows you to remotely monitor their position and status
in the field, so you plan routes for your engineers more efficiently, increasing the number of appointments they
can carry out in a day. Devices can also be added to parts and equipment that your workers use, so they can be
monitored. You can also see whether assets have been tampered with, and can measure variables such as fuel
levels, oil levels and water temperature.
As a healthcare provider, you need to keep track of your assets in the field, to reduce the risk of theft and to help
you provide a more efficient standard of care. You may want to track equipment that gets sent home on loan with
patients, such as wheelchairs and mobile beds, or mobile equipment that gets moved around hospitals, such as
defibrillators and portable x-ray machines. Attaching tracking devices to assets enables you to easily locate them
as and when they’re needed. You can also use asset tracking to protect drug deliveries and to track the location of
on-call staff so that you can better plan patient care.
Vodafone Mobile Asset Tracking
Vodafone Mobile Asset Tracking gives you complete visibility and control of any asset
that’s valuable to your business. Our solution is designed to make implementation as
simple and effective as possible. We offer a customised service designed to meet your
needs, with full professional services at every stage, from delivery, installation and testing
to ongoing 24x7 global support.
Inside each of your assets we install a tracker – a wired or battery-powered wireless device
that tracks their GPS location, acceleration and other factors such as temperature and
level of ambient light. There are different tracking devices suited to different use cases,
conditions and environments. They can be fitted at the time of manufacture, or can be
retrofitted across an existing portfolio of assets through a phased rollout.
The tracker is connected via 2G or 3G GSM connections to our secure global M2M network
or the networks of our partners. The network carries data from the device back to the
software platform. The device can be set up to send routine reports on a periodic basis,
or it can send event-based triggers and alerts. This enables you to maintain a seamless
overview of the physical location and status of your entire asset estate at any given time.
The system can alert you in real time should an asset be stolen, tampered with or break
behavioural rules that you define. For example, you can set a geo-fenced area marking a
construction site where a piece of plant is operating — if it leaves the area, for whatever
reason, you’ll know about it immediately. The data can be integrated via APIs into your
critical business processes, such as your SCM, ERP and CRM.
The Vodafone solution is offered as a managed cloud service, so it is flexible to suit your
business needs. All data storage and analytics software is hosted in our resilient data
centres. No matter how many assets you’re monitoring, we’ve got the scale to handle it.
• The device with sensors you
attach to your asset
• The network that enables
tracking and the transfer of data
• The software platform where you
can manage all your assets
A simple solution
Customer’s asset is
ﬁtted with the
as a managed,
The device will report to
a central server via the
Backend system manages
devices, and translates data
into useful information
Data can be integrated into
customer’s critical business
processes via APIs
M2M Mobile Asset Tracking
Mobile asset tracking has the potential to become a core part of the
way you run your business. So partnering with a provider that has
proven M2M expertise and experience in delivering solutions is vital.
Deep experience transforming business with M2M
We’ve got more than 20 years of experience in M2M, with the tracking of assets such as vehicles at the
core of that experience. Today over 250 dedicated M2M experts put their experience to work for you:
at a global level in planning international deployments, and at a local level to provide insights into
regulatory requirements. No other operator can match our level of M2M expert support.
Global networks you can rely on
Today, Vodafone provides services via 70 wireless networks on five continents. We have the world’s
largest owned network and partnerships in more than 40 countries, serving more than 400 million
customers. Our global scale doesn’t just give you the confidence that we operate wherever your
mobile assets travel; it also means that we can provide extremely competitive pricing and simplify
your service management. Our global SIM and global SLAs ensure that you receive a consistent
The solutions and support you need to make M2M simple
We know that building an M2M solution can be complex. We focus on making it simple. We give you a
single point of contact, bringing together the right hardware, application and service providers, and
ensuring they work together seamlessly with your products and equipment, and our global network.
Our dedicated Innovation Park team in Dusseldorf is at your disposal throughout your project to
ensure that hardware and complete solutions work perfectly. And once we’ve deployed the solution,
our Global M2M Platform gives you both a single web-based and API-based automated interface for
tracking the status of all your M2M devices in real time and for raising support issues and provisioning
Want proof of our
experience? Don’t just take
our word for it. We’ve been
highly rated by leading
industry analysts such as
Analysys Mason, Current
Analysis and Machina
to find out more.
Start your journey
Only Vodafone Global M2M can offer you such a complete tracking solution for all
your mobile assets, on a global scale. To find out more about our M2M solutions for
mobile asset tracking, please contact your Vodafone account manager, email m2m@
vodafone.com, or visit m2m.vodafone.com.
Vodafone Group 2014. This document is issued by Vodafone in confidence and is not to be reproduced in whole or
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