The Ultimate Guide to Satellite GPS Trackers

Exploring the Basics of Satellite Tracking

Tracking a person or a valuable asset via satellite tracker is the ideal way of ensuring its safety while you are not around. For example, if you are heading on vacation and need a way of checking your newly purchased vehicle is where it should be at all times, a satellite tracker fitted to the vehicle will allow you to login to a centralised tracking portal and check its precise coordinates. Similarly if a loved one or you yourself is taking on a personal challenge in a remote, far-flung region, a portable satellite tracking solution is ideal for sharing your location in real-time so that people back home or online followers can monitor your progress.

The Role of Iridium Edge Solar Satellite Asset Tracker

When it comes to monitoring something like a boat or other marine vessel, for example, the Iridium Edge Solar satellite asset tracker is an ideal solution because of its ruggedness, mounting abilities, and the integrated solar panels that keep its internal battery charged for very long periods of time. This particular tracker has been used to great effect by OSAT customers, and when mounted to a boat’s dashboard, can log the location at various intervals set by the user. These interval tracking points are pinged to OSAT Track, our bespoke mapping portal that displays tracker locations with precision details including time, location, speed, and altitude. Iridium Edge Solar is a global satellite tracker and uses the reliable Iridium Short Burst Data service to send and receive messages anywhere in the world. GPS locations are transmitted to offer real time tracking while Bluetooth capabilities allow integration into more advanced systems for transmission of data from sensors.

Choosing the Right Satellite Tracker for Your Needs

Depending on what exactly you are looking to track will determine the type of tracker you need. There are two ‘camps’ of satellite tracker: asset trackers and personnel trackers. These devices vary in different ways and so the nature of your tracking needs should be considered before choosing which device to purchase. For example, if you were embarking on a solo hiking adventure through remote wilderness, we would recommend a satellite GPS tracker like a Garmin handheld, Bivy Stick, or Motorola Defy, as these can initiate things like SOS rescue operations or show you real-time route planning. For more commercial applications like fleet management or tracking shipping containers, we would suggest fitting asset trackers like the Iridium Edge Solar due to their scalability, portability, over-the-air configuration procedures, and scope for IoT integration.

Common Issues in Satellite Tracking Systems with Solutions

Using satellite asset trackers can be incredibly valuable for businesses and organizations looking to monitor the location and condition of their assets. However, like any technology, they come with their own set of common issues, which we outline below and provide a helpful solution for each one.

Poor Signal Reception:

  • Issue: In remote or obstructed areas, satellite signals may be weak or unavailable, leading to data gaps.
  • Solution: Consider using a hybrid tracking system that combines satellite, cellular, and other communication technologies to ensure continuous coverage. Alternatively, use trackers with multiple satellite network options to improve connectivity.

Battery Life:

  • Issue: Long-lasting batteries are essential for asset trackers deployed in the field. Battery drain can lead to downtime and increased maintenance.
  • Solution: Opt for trackers with energy-efficient designs and features like motion activation or scheduled reporting. Also, use solar-powered or rechargeable battery solutions for assets in sunny environments.

Device Tampering:

  • Issue: Asset trackers can be vulnerable to tampering or removal by unauthorized individuals.
  • Solution: Use tamper-resistant enclosures or covert installations to deter theft or tampering. Implement geofencing alerts to notify you when assets leave designated areas.

Cost:

  • Issue: Satellite tracking services can be expensive, particularly for global coverage.
  • Solution: Carefully assess your tracking needs and choose a plan that aligns with your budget. Consider regional tracking solutions if your assets primarily operate in specific areas.

Data Accuracy:

  • Issue: Sometimes, satellite trackers may provide inaccurate location data due to factors like atmospheric interference or signal reflection.
  • Solution: Use trackers with multiple satellite constellation support (e.g., GPS, GLONASS, Galileo) to improve location accuracy. Additionally, implement data validation and error-checking algorithms on the server side to filter out erroneous data.

Integration Challenges:

  • Issue: Integrating tracker data into existing systems or software can be complex.
  • Solution: Choose trackers that offer standardized APIs for easy integration with your existing systems, or use a tracking platform that supports various data sources and provides integration options.

A Buyer's Guide to Selecting the Perfect Satellite Tracker

Satellite asset trackers are essential tools for anyone looking monitor and protect valuable assets from vehicles to equipment or cargo. When selecting the perfect satellite asset tracker for your specific needs, several factors should be considered to ensure you make an informed decision. This buyer's guide outlines key considerations to help you choose the right satellite asset tracker:

Tracking Technology:

There are different tracking technologies available, each with its advantages and limitations. The primary options are:

GPS (Global Positioning System):

  • GPS trackers are widely used and provide precise location data using signals from a network of satellites
  • Ensure the tracker has a strong GPS signal reception and accuracy, especially in remote areas.
  • Consider whether you need real-time or periodic tracking, as this affects the device's data plan requirements.
Satellite-Based Tracking:
  • Satellite asset trackers use satellite communication networks, such as Iridium or Globalstar, making them suitable for remote and global tracking.
  • These trackers work in areas with limited or no cellular coverage.
  • Ensure the device is compatible with the satellite network available in your region.

Battery Life:

The battery life of the asset tracker is crucial, as it determines how long the device can operate between charges or battery replacements. Consider:

  • How frequently you need location updates and whether the device supports adjustable reporting intervals to conserve battery life.
  • Battery type (rechargeable or replaceable) and capacity.
  • The ability to receive low-battery alerts to prevent downtime.

Durability and Environment:

Asset trackers may be exposed to harsh conditions, so their durability and environmental resistance are vital:

  • Look for trackers with rugged, weatherproof, or IP-rated designs.
  • Consider temperature and humidity specifications if you need tracking in extreme environments.
  • Ensure the device is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

Data and Reporting:

Evaluate the reporting capabilities of the asset tracker:

  • Real-time tracking: Some trackers provide continuous updates, while others report at scheduled intervals.
  • Data storage and history: Determine how much historical data the device can store and retrieve.
  • Alerts and notifications: Check for customizable alerts for various events like geofencing, tampering, or excessive speed.

Connectivity:

Consider how the asset tracker communicates and shares data:

  • Cellular connectivity: Some trackers rely on cellular networks for data transmission. Verify if it works with the appropriate carriers in your area.
  • Satellite communication: Assess compatibility with satellite networks and whether additional subscriptions are needed.
  • Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities for local connectivity or proximity-based tracking.

Geofencing and Alerts:

Geofencing allows you to set virtual boundaries and receive notifications when assets enter or exit predefined areas. Ensure the asset tracker supports this feature and offers customizable alerts.

Integration and Software:

  • Choose an asset tracker that integrates seamlessly with your existing systems and software:
  • Compatibility with fleet management software, asset management platforms, or third-party applications.
  • Access to user-friendly web or mobile applications for tracking and monitoring.

Cost:

Consider the total cost of ownership, including the initial purchase price, data plan fees, and any additional charges:

  • Compare pricing structures and subscription plans from different manufacturers.
  • Factor in the cost of installation, maintenance, and potential hidden fees.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the perfect satellite asset tracker that aligns with your organization's needs, ensuring efficient asset management and security. Make sure to conduct thorough research and even test the tracker in a real-world setting, if possible, before making a final decision.

As always, our team of experts at OSAT is here to help. So, if you need any advice about satellite asset tracker solutions, contact us via:

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