mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2019


 

How a global parcel tracker was brought to life in just three years
30 January 2019, This Week's Editor's Pick, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT

Every month, 13 million Euros’ worth of packages go missing. Solving this thorny global logistical issue is a lucrative Internet of Things (IoT) opportunity – one that businesses and entrepreneurs around the world are scrambling to address.

Time is of the essence in this competitive space, as the number of large-scale IoT projects doubled in the year 2017 alone. So, London-based IoT innovator, Hanhaa, turned to Avnet to get its smart parcel solution, ParceLive, to market quickly.

A richer picture of your shipments

Hanhaa CEO, Azhar Hussain, had a small business with a big mission: to enable businesses to monitor their global shipments at massive scale – meaning, tens of thousands of parcels – and make detailed information more easily accessible. Where was the parcel? Was it within the allowable temperature range? Had it got wet? Had it been tipped, dropped or opened?

What’s more, Hussain wanted to offer his product as a service to make it more operationally feasible for a broad range of customers. “By offering ParceLive as a tracking service, our customers can stay focused on using their IoT data to improve their business without worrying about the upfront logistics and expense,” he said. “Customers won’t need to buy the trackers, or charge them, or test them, or ship them around the world. We look after all of that while providing near real-time data about their parcels.”

This startup founder’s promising vision hinged on one small, yet surprisingly complex, piece of technology: the parcel tracking device itself.

Tackling technology complexity

At first glance, the ParceLive device sounded straightforward: it was based on individual pieces of proven technology, from GPS and other sensors to the wireless communication equipment.

“It was when we started combining these different capabilities that things quickly become more complex – especially the antennas. A small tweak to one part of the design had a big impact elsewhere,” Hussain said. The product simply wasn’t meeting the requirements, so he turned to Avnet for a solution.

There were three primary technical challenges that needed to be tackled. Firstly, the microcontroller (MCU) architecture was not performing at the required levels. The solution was to migrate to STMicroelectronics for significantly enhanced performance with full design support.

The second challenge was that the battery life was too short for international tracking. This was solved by leveraging VARTA’s certified solution to increase battery life from seven days to more than 20 days.

Finally, the existing chip antenna would not allow ParceLive to track with the granularity required for the product to reach its full potential in the market. Avnet thus worked closely with TE Connectivity’s engineers to upgrade the chip antenna to an embedded antenna that could offer a far greater granularity of data and a tracking performance that was previously unattainable.

As the team worked through Hussain’s ideas to refine the engineering, components and supply chain requirements, they were able to identify and quickly fix a number of issues with the MCU architecture and battery life. Still, it became clear that Hanhaa’s complex radio frequency (RF) requirements needed a specialist’s attention. The Avnet team knew that TE Connectivity was the right partner to call.

Paul Jones, business development manager at Avnet Abacus, has worked with many startups at this same point in their product development process, when they’re beginning to grasp how complex and challenging it is to recognise and mitigate design risks. “In IoT especially, a small mistake early in the design process can cost vast amounts of time and money further down the line,” he said.

“Armed with its network of highly specialised engineers and production equipment, TE was uniquely positioned to help Hanhaa avoid that scenario with their antennas. As Azhar told us: “TE helped us climb a wall before we even realised it was a wall.”

A sounding board for ideas

TE’s engineers reviewed Hanhaa’s designs and highlighted issues that could affect the tracker’s performance or battery life, working in tandem with Avnet’s experts to balance both the requirements of the overall device and those of global markets. Together, the team helped Hanhaa overcome its antenna development hurdles and save significant time and money.

“TE helped us refine the designs and tune the performance so that the tracker delivered the level of accuracy we needed,” Hussain said. “Thanks to this close collaboration with Avnet and TE, ParceLive is able to offer capabilities like passive antenna arrays that enable GPS readings from inside a building, for example.”

Because they leveraged Avnet’s expertise to pull the most complex pieces of their path to market together, including TE Connectivity’s specialised antenna resources, Hanhaa was ready for its commercial launch in less than three years. That means it took Avnet less than 1000 days to take its concept, prototype it, refine it and get the first 20 000 units manufactured – one fast path to market for a small business.

“Global product development is one of the most complex and resource-heavy endeavours you can take on – especially for IoT entrepreneurs,” Jones said. “We’re committed to helping startups succeed because nobody can do it alone. We’ll use our global ecosystem to help you move faster than your competitors while still checking all the boxes for the long-term.”


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Avnet South Africa
Tel: +27 11 319 8600
Fax: +27 11 319 8650
Email: sales@avnet.co.za
www: www.avnet.co.za
  Share on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Harvesting kinetic energy to power smart objects
    27 February 2019, Avnet South Africa, Power Electronics / Power Management
    As the world becomes increasingly smart and connected, batteries are not always the right choice in some of the emerging use cases.
  • End-to-end LoRa security solution
    27 February 2019, Avnet South Africa, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    As the LoRa (Long Range) technology ecosystem accelerates, security remains an area for improvement in the market, due to vulnerabilities that leave the network and application server keys accessible ...
  • RGB LED drivers
    27 February 2019, Avnet South Africa, Opto-Electronics
    Texas Instruments introduced a new family of LED drivers with integrated, independent colour mixing, brightness control and a power-saving mode. The LP5018, LP5024, LP5030 and LP5036 enable smooth, vivid ...
  • Wireless charging set to pull the plug on wired technology
    30 January 2019, TRX Electronics, This Week's Editor's Pick, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT, Power Electronics / Power Management
    The technology will fully deliver on its promise when people can go about their everyday lives without ever worrying about carrying cables or power banks along with them.
  • Overcoming the challenges of implementing IIoT technology
    30 January 2019, Altron Arrow, This Week's Editor's Pick, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    The fundamental technologies that will form the basis of IIoT implementations are connectivity, sensors and actuators.
  • AVR MCUs get beta support in MPLAB X
    30 January 2019, Avnet South Africa, Design Automation
    Microchip Technology recently announced the release of MPLAB X integrated development environment (IDE) version 5.05, which beta supports the majority of AVR microcontrollers (MCUs). This release will ...
  • SiPs for LoRa IoT nodes
    30 January 2019, Avnet South Africa, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    Microchip Technology announced a highly integrated LoRa system-in-package (SiP) family with an ultra-low-power 32-bit microcontroller (MCU), sub-GHz RF LoRa transceiver and software stack. The combination ...
  • MCUs with Arm Cortex-M0+ core
    30 January 2019, Avnet South Africa, DSP, Micros & Memory
    By adding the new STM32G0 microcontrollers (MCUs) to the STM32 family, STMicroelectronics is stretching its portfolio of Arm Cortex-M-core MCUs to more thoroughly cover key embedded-market segments. The ...
  • NXP processors support AWS Greengrass
    30 January 2019, EBV Electrolink, DSP, Micros & Memory, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    In order to support the security of IoT edge devices and cloud-to-edge connections, NXP Semiconductors has implemented AWS Greengrass hardware security integration on its Layerscape and i.MX applications ...
  • Where to for the SA electronics industry in 2019?
    14 November 2018, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    There will be new challenges and opportunities, and this is what engineers thrive on, is it not?
  • Optical networking and sensing with POF
    14 November 2018, TRX Electronics, This Week's Editor's Pick, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    POF is bringing the advantages of optical networking to communication and optical sensing applications that cannot be satisfied using copper cable, wireless or glass fibre.
  • NB-IoT’s place in the South African LPWAN picture
    14 November 2018, Quectel Wireless Solutions, This Week's Editor's Pick, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT
    At the start of 2018, there was much talk on the NB-IoT side but little design activity, however in the third quarter of this year we are seeing greater interest in the base line solution.

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.