3 Case studies of Blockchain for Asset Tracking and Theft Prevention
What are the best Blockchain Asset Tracking Solutions for cargo, logistics, and supply chain management in 2022? How well do they work? And which applications are already on the market to benefit your company?
We present 3 use cases of real-time container track & trace and supply chain monitoring solutions to prevent cargo theft and counterfeiting crime for a wide range of industries. One example is our successful pilot case study with the ivault™ Platform and GPS trackers customized for seamless waste tracking of the long-established specialist recycling company RCS Entsorgung GmbH from Germany.
What is Asset Tracking?
Asset tracking means the full and transparent tracing of information about assets of all kinds, including location, status, position, and other relevant information. This includes goods and merchandise, private property, like valuables or other items.
The term refers to the method of tracking physical assets or products back to their sources, e.g. by scanning barcode labels attached to a company’s asset. In addition to RFID and GPS devices, this includes NFC tags and QR codes printed on labels of products that can be easily scanned using smartphone cameras or apps.
Groundbreaking asset tracking solutions, such as ivault, also use blockchain or IoT combined with top-grade GPS trackers to efficiently track items and accurately determine and verify geolocations and other conditions at all times. While the range of RFID tags for signal transmission is limited, certain technologically advanced GPS asset tracking devices are promising in global logistics monitoring, container track & trace, and cargo theft prevention — especially when implemented with blockchain technology.
What are GPS Asset Trackers?
Tangible assets can be tracked with devices that combine common GPS tracking systems with cell phone and/or satellite phone technology. Tracking devices of this type are called GPS asset trackers. They differ from conventional GPS tracking devices in that they are powered by an internal battery and can transmit location data accordingly, independent of the vehicle battery.
Thanks to these asset trackers, the location of global container shipments can be determined in real-time at any time during transport or warehousing. In this way, entire transport routes of deliveries of any kind can be fully tracked and monitored.
Blockchain Asset Tracking
— Use Cases for 2022
Vault Security Systems AG has worked with various industries of different sizes. In addition to our blockchain-based supply chain tracking solutions to prevent pharmaceutical counterfeiting (with corresponding pharma packaging solutions), we also dedicated a pilot project, for example, to customized Blockchain Asset Tracking Solutions to prevent container theft as well as waste tracking for large recycling companies. We will talk about these use cases below.
If you are missing an example of a customized solution for your industry, please contact us right away. We would be happy to advise you on a cost-efficient blockchain-based tracking solution that fits your company’s needs:
Get in touch now.
1. GPS Asset Tracking to prevent container theft
Organized criminals, unfortunately, do not shy away from stealing containers even if they weigh several hundred pounds. Most of our customers fall victim to container theft over and over again. They report stolen shipments several times a year and incur huge losses. Meanwhile, the stolen containers are transported away for hundreds of miles in plain sight.
For us, the optimal solution to this massive problem that many companies have was to use top-grade GPS asset trackers with built-in anti-theft technology, and some other small-scale devices like movement sensors. But it is not enough to simply attach these to the containers.
You have to keep in mind different circumstances: One challenge, for example, is that containers can be seen as outdoor-stationary objects as they stand in one place for months or even years and are exposed to extreme temperatures. Our tracking technologies must therefore not only offer the highest possible security standard and theft protection. You also have to make sure, they work perfectly under different conditions — without running out of juice.
Next, we connected the asset tracking devices directly to the ivault™ Platform. The battery’s life of the devices is estimated at 10 years and various alerts are being sent in case of attempted theft, such as unscheduled movement, removal of the tracker from the object.
The finished tracking application features multiple location and transmission methods while using military-grade end-to-end encryption. They can be individually equipped with a wide range of sensors to track containers and other objects and monitor equipment and conditions.
2. Waste Tracking: Monitoring Recycling Containers
Concerning today’s recycling and waste reduction needs, there is an immense need for transportation and tracking solutions for waste products across various industries: be it plastic waste, food waste, or hazardous industrial waste. Blockchain-based technologies such as ivault can help waste tracking, from monitoring the correct disposal of hazardous industrial by-products to large shipments of recycling containers.
Companies in the recycling and waste management industry are also facing new challenges after climate change and digitalization: To reduce the CO2 emissions of the vehicle fleet, transport routes must be organized efficiently to avoid empty runs, for example. Accurately determining the current locations of containers is just as important as calculating optimal routes.
Our asset tracking use cases include a customized blockchain solution for tracking waste containers, which we worked out together with RCS Entsorgung GmbH from Germany. After successfully completing a 6-month trial, it is now on the market.
For this, among other things, we attached sensitive GPS trackers to containers and paper presses, which provide real-time data on current locations and transport routes as well as information on current usage via the cloud-based ivault™ Platform. This information can be accessed at any time via a web interface. You can read the full press release in German here:
PRESS RELEASE: Blockchain-based GPS Tracking to monitor waste disposal and recycling containers
3. Global Supply Chain Tracking and Monitoring
Every company with more or less complex supply chains and sought-after products faces certain challenges. ivault focuses on counterfeit protection, theft prevention, as well as customer relations. Yet, it always depends on the individual case: A pharmaceutical company or a luxury brand might need blockchain tracking solutions that look very different from what a large fishing company or other food suppliers are searching for.
Most recently, we talked about how blockchain can increase the security of global supply chains and their protected products. We also explained, how GPS trackers on fishing boats can help determine the unique geolocation of fishing boats to help make fishery more sustainable. Subsequently, the sustainably caught fish can be equipped with further tracking devices and identifiers, such as NFC chips or QR codes, to be shipped to the end customer.
In this TED Talk, supply chain innovator Markus Mutz explained how exactly tracking on the sea can be used as an environmental protection measure and how verified information about a sustainably caught fish reaches the individual buyer in the supermarket:
How does Blockchain Asset Tracking work?
Of course, with the blockchain-based technology of the ivault™ Platform working seamlessly in the background, the perfect solution is different for each and every supply chain. Retrieving information about supply chain sustainability might already work well with QR codes printed on the packaging of products registered on the blockchain.
However, manufacturers of pharmaceuticals — as well as the electronics or automotive industries — want to track branded products and spare parts even more efficiently. Like many other companies facing counterfeit products and stolen goods (or entire containers being stolen), they particularly benefit from a combination of different visible and invisible identifiers.
This allows them to ensure a double level of protection against theft and counterfeiting for each individual product:
- A visibly printed QR code on the packaging can be scanned by end customers using a smartphone and already offers effective protection against counterfeiting when it’s connected to a blockchain platform. Counterfeiters can still copy QR codes, but if copies are then scanned, they will be noticed in individual cases already — thanks to the transparency and immutability of the blockchain platform.
- Hidden NFC chips or RFID tags can then be integrated additionally, for example in the packaging of pharmaceutical products, which means that no tampering attempt can go unnoticed. In addition, it can be precisely traced back to where exactly counterfeit products have entered the supply chain. This can help companies to track down criminal activities much faster.
- Communication in a GPS-enabled asset tracking system: Another useful case study is a GPS device that can communicate with NFC, for example. At ivault, we can attach a high-grade GPS tracker to a truck or delivery vehicle. Products inside are equipped with an NFC chip each that communicates with the GPS. The GPS sends data about each product from their NFC chips to the blockchain platform. For this, we also developed NFC tagging systems with waterproof and washable chips that can be used in clothes. Others can also be integrated with metal products without losing conductivity.
Moreover, companies can create a new transparent and authentic communication channel between their brands and their customers, start collecting zero-party data and build long-term customer relationships and customer loyalty.
Advantages of Using Blockchain for Asset Tracking
So, why exactly is Blockchain being used to improve GPS trackers in logistics and transport? How can a Blockchain platform help with tracking physical assets, when we are already using the best GPS trackers out there? And is it worth what it costs? Here are some answers.
Our current GPS technologies need an upgrade that finally makes a difference as the numbers of container thefts continue to rise despite all the measures taken so far. Again the best solution for this problem is Blockchain. Because the future technology offers one core advantage and that is trust — a value proposition that also characterizes ivault.
Distributed ledgers are decentralized, resilient, and secure — these are the main advantages of Blockchain in general. Hence, Blockchain can make traditional GPS systems more secure, resilient, and data transmitted can be stored in a decentralized and thus hacker-proof way.
For example, it will be much easier to unambiguously verify geolocation in real-time, as it is impossible to manipulate data once it is on the blockchain. After all, data is no longer stored centrally on one potentially frail server only, but distributed across multiple computers.
In addition to the forgery-proof documentation, the system’s character as a neutral platform is another major advantage. A middleman is no longer necessary, and with all this, blockchain also helps to increase efficiency: the system enables the management of cross-organizational processes and can still be easily integrated into existing systems, which makes it above all a cost-efficiently smart product.
This seems to be the perfect solution for the global logistics and shipping industry, from food suppliers’ or luxury goods deliveries to industrial waste disposal and recycling, antibiotics or vaccine distribution, or multi-million dollar medical devices being shipped and not stolen (again)…
B2C: Digital Asset Tracking for Consumers
Of course, private individuals are also very interested in protecting their belonging and tracking assets in case of loss or theft. Especially when it comes to mobile assets such as stolen bikes or cars.
With the ivault™ App, users can digitalize assets and rely on their local community: If something is lost or stolen, other users can help recover the missing item. Thus, affordable blockchain-based theft prevention comes not only to companies and brands but also directly to people with the launch of the app:
Everyone can protect their valuables and track items with blockchain, whether they own very expansive items, they want to protect from thieves, or they simply want to make sure, things with a special meaning will find their way back thanks to someone helping out. At last, people can build a stronger community thanks to the ivault App, focusing on mutual support and safety.
Of course, the app also offers potential for the use of asset tracking technologies such as GPS trackers to prevent bike theft, for example, or to track down and find lost pets. All kinds of asset tracking devices are already being used everywhere on a large scale, of course. Yet, what’s still missing is a secure and trustworthy platform based on Blockchain behind the asset tracking devices for personal use to receive verified data about the current location of a stolen vehicle, for example.
Read more about this in Germany’s most reliable Financial & Business Newspapers Handelsblatt:
Handelsblatt Advertorials for ivault
Thanks for this interesting blog entry regarding blockchain. What I really liked was the presentation of the cases you came up with.
Of course, I am very curious to see how your blockchain will work in these environments that you outlined. You also write: “Distributed ledgers are decentralized, resilient, and secure” but they also burn a bit of electricity. Nonetheless I am sure you have that under control.
By the way, more information about Blockchain can also be found in the Blockchain Wiki on our website. It explains some additional concepts and might interest your readers.
Greetings and have a great weekend.