Trackunit and Hilti team up to offer an Amazon Sidewalk-like Bluetooth network
As telematics and GPS-based fleet management become widely used on heavy construction equipment, a partnership between power tool supplier Hilti and software-as-a-service (SaaS) fleet management provider Trackunit integrates the connected construction in some of the smallest devices used on construction sites and in field service scenarios. Ultimately, these devices could communicate over a mesh network similar to that used by Ring doorbells and other consumer devices, taking asset tracking, device management, and interoperability to new heights in the industry. construction industry.
Trackunit – headquartered in Aalborg, Denmark and with a US presence in Chicago – and Hilti, based in Schaan, Liechtenstein, with its North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, have integrated their tracking apps respective assets, making them interoperable and extending each other’s reach in the market.
In a phone interview with ForConstructionPros the morning after the announcement, Trackunit CEO Soeren Brogaard described how the partnership combines the Bluetooth 5.2 standard, asset tags on Hilti equipment and the two networks of tracking software. company assets to provide visibility into the location of power tools and, with accelerometers that interpret vibration data as active equipment use, actual operating time. This run time data can be shared by the contractor, OEM of the equipment – in this case Hilti – enabling intelligent asset management decisions.
“What we provide to entrepreneurs is a digital twin for these asset classes, just like you’re used to for your machines,” Brogaard said. “For the first time for these asset classes, we can tell you the actual execution time, when should we provide service, when should we consider selling or replacing equipment.”
Hilti currently offers its On!Track tool management software application that combines Bluetooth tracking devices on its tools with a cloud application that captures data from tagged tools every two minutes. The On!Track application monitors tool use, location and usage to support a range of business functions including maintenance, equipment decommissioning, certification management of various tools and, for rented equipment, rental return dates.
The partnership expands the market presence and capabilities of Hilti and Trackunit. The applicability of Hilti’s ON!Track solution extends beyond light equipment to the heavy machinery covered by Trackunit’s leading construction equipment asset management application. Trackunit accesses an extensive global network of devices and connectivity. The partnership also results in a new and innovative van inventory management solution for all categories of construction industry customers.
Create a global network of building assets
Trackunit will, Brogaard says, seek to replicate this partnership approach, resulting in a large ecosystem of Bluetooth-connected devices.
“We have ambitions first and foremost to expand the network,” Brogaard said. “The prerequisite is to have a wide Bluetooth network, similar to what Amazon Web Services did with Sidewalk.”
Amazon Sidewalk is a low-bandwidth, long-range wireless communications protocol that uses Bluetooth Low Energy for short-range communications with an enabled device and 900 MHz LoRa (long-range) or to communicate over long distances. It’s the shared network that encompasses Amazon Echo, Ring security cameras, and other devices that deliver value to end users. This mesh network operates on a flood network principle, with devices on the network relaying messages to each other, eventually passing them to the device that needs to consume them.
The On!Track solution currently allows users to take advantage of telematics-equipped machines via service vans or antennas at job sites and service or equipment depots in the field. The combined solution will be able to access Trackunit’s proprietary mesh network, the construction industry’s largest network of traceable devices. Hilti is expanding the reach of this network and also giving Trackunit even deeper ties to the North American construction industry, in part through its 2021 acquisition of field productivity software provider Fieldwire. Trackunit meanwhile acquired the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) division of competitor ZTR in 2021, significantly expanding its own network of connected devices.
Brogaard described how Trackunit’s Kin functionality combines the company’s Kin-branded asset tags and the global mesh network. While Trackunit uses full telemetry units on major equipment, equipment accessories or small tools can now be tagged with a device that uses Bluetooth 5.2 to communicate location information to prevent loss or to get lost. ensure that a crew does not leave a depot without the necessary equipment or tools. for the task they will perform. These beacons can communicate through the mesh network with an antenna on the larger asset telemetry units.
If Brogaard’s vision is fully realized and the company creates a large network of ecosystems similar to the Amazon Sidewalk-like network, tagged assets could communicate not through a nearby antenna, but through other devices on the network. . One of Amazon Sidewalk’s early partners, for example, was Tile Inc. Customers can affix Tile tags to keychains, wallets, and other items and later be able to locate them from much more. far than the standard Bluetooth range. The range of the Bluetooth signal is extended by other devices on the mesh network, so the larger the network, the more value it provides.
This is in line with the proper economic concept called the network effect, where the value and utility of a good or service increases the number of people who use it. The Ring Doorbell can pick up a signal from an asset tag on a lost wallet and relay it to a nearby Echo device, eventually sending the signal back to the person who lost the wallet.
“If you have a connected machine nearby, this coverage will increase usability and allow you to integrate it into workflow management in a way that has never been done before,” Brogaard said. “The biggest move in this space – in the lighter equipment asset classes – will come from the fact that less than 10% of these compacting, drilling and other tools are connected. So there is a potential advantage of hundreds of millions of devices. Capturing, curating, harmonizing, making data available to ecosystem, OEM, rental or contractor is a daunting task. But if we have a pool consistent data, if our APIs are well structured, developer access can be extensible and make the ecosystem really exciting.
Building connected with Bluetooth
Hilti-connected tools can be networked with a Trackunit telemetry unit or antenna in a depot, on a construction site or in a field service van.
“It’s easy to integrate this into field service management workflows,” Brogaard said. “We extend data through our open Application Program Interfaces (APIs). Hilti has service management capabilities in On!Track.