Wirelessly Powered Trailer Trackers: A Proven Logistics Solution for Big Box Retailers

Big box retailers have a logistics challenge: to expedite loading and unloading of millions of products from thousands of trailers when the exact location of a trailer is not known the costs from not being able to keep those products moving on down the supply chain will quickly rack up.

To combat this issue many carriers, DC’s and warehouse operations utilize GPS trackers. A GPS tracker should help eliminate hours of employees’ time searching large lots to identify where specific trailers are parked. But GPS trackers need to be “always on,” and traditional power methods, such as batteries, don’t last long enough or are powerful enough to provide reliable location data. Current solutions are forced to limit the frequency of location updates to conserve remaining battery power in traditional untethered tracking solutions. 

Retailers need a tracking solution that is powered up more than 80% at any given time and can ensure no drops in service all while providing the highest frequency of location updates.

A Reality: Wirelessly Powered GPS Trackers 

Enter the wirelessly powered trailer tracker. Ossia partnered up with Sensata-Xirgo, which builds advanced tracking solutions, to develop GPS tracking devices powered by Ossia’s patented wireless power technology: Cota. 

This system, which is FCC-approved, was recently tested over four weeks in the real world. Here’s how it works: 

  1. As part of the ingate process the gate associate scans the GPS device creating a digital link between the tracker and the trailer in the company’s yard management system. 
  2. Once scanned, the gate associate places the GPS device on the landing gear of the trailer for traceability.
  3. During the normal out gate process, the gate associate removes the device from the landing gear and places it in a special “Cota-in-a-Box” cabinet, which looks much like a locker, where it automatically charges. An online report shows logistics staff the location and unique ID of every trailer with Cota powered GPS tracker attached. There is no need to replace the batteries in the device, secure the device in a charging cradle or plug it in to anything. Simply placing it in the locker and closing the door starts the charging process.
  4. An online report shows staff all the trailers that have arrived along with the GPS device ID that is associated with the trailer. 

Let’s take a look at what happened next. 

Cota-Enabled GPS Trackers: The Results 

In this test, more than 200 trackers were deployed, and about 30 were in the charging box at any given time; the others were in the field. The online reporting system showed an aerial map with layers of detail about where each trailer was located -- with an accuracy of two to nine feet! 

Over the course of the test, the Cota-enabled GPS trackers performed as expected, with more than 80% State-of- Charge maintained and no drops in service. The secure storage and charging box itself allowed for higher transmitted power levels, as approved by the FCC, and the tight device spacing greatly improved ambient charging of all devices. 

This type of tracking system potentially saves a big box retailer millions of dollars by decreasing: 

  • Misplaced trailer checks
  • Managerial oversight
  • Manager yard checks
  • Inventory checks
  • Delayed goods to stores
  • Loading dock downtime
  • Lost sales revenue
  • Personnel liability
  • Loss prevention investigations

At the same time, the Cota tracker increases safety and accountability of yard personnel by reducing unnecessary foot traffic in the yard area while associated are on foot searching for misplaced trailers. With the touch of a button, managers can see exactly where the trailers and their inventory are located. 

A Turnkey, Flexible Tracking System

The trailer tracking system is just one of many logistics use cases; the Cota tracker can also enable real-time tracking of high value assets including containers, chassis, crates, pallets, and packages. 

The Cota-enabled GPS tracker is weatherproof, wire free, and does not require any specific orientation when placed on in the field or in the box. What’s more, the charging box itself is device agnostic: it can charge any Cota-enabled device, including things like digital price tags or signage. It’s solving the very real problem of minimal power issues in the field. 

Do you have an opportunity to improve the logistics of tracking your trucks or inventory in the field? Contact us about this Cota experience!