Hewlett Packard Enterprise is using its Aruba networking infrastructure to support a new asset tracking solution, the vendor announced June 5.
In conversations with Aruba customers, HPE discovered that tracking small items that moved around on premises was a big problem. One hospital was spending $70,000 a year just to replace lost IV pumps. An airport was spending a long time finding wheelchairs and delivering them to the right gate as passengers deplaned.
“Customers kept asking us for a simple way to do asset tracking well,” says Trent Fierro, director of software marketing at Aruba, HPE. “There’s a lot of misplaced items, things they’re looking for… that we could help find.”
To solve the problem, Aruba is making use of its Meridian portfolio, the last acquisition it made in 2013, before being acquired itself by HPE in 2015. Meridian was a software location specialist. By tapping that software and leaning on the Aruba network that uses hot spots that are enabled with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radios, HPE has created a solution that can be deployed on customer’s existing WiFi networks. Typically, asset tracking solutions require a separate and dedicated network be used.
The tags that are attached to the assets are about the size of a quarter. The locating of assets can be accomplished using a web dashboard or a mobile app that displays a map of the building, with assets beaconing.
Using the Asset Tag Configuration App, Aruba users can manage the tags and assign them to physical assets. At the digital layer, you have tags, names, and photos that allow them to be found in a database easily too.
For companies that require a customized solution, Meridian’s AppMaker enables easy development of an iOS or Android app with a new SDK and APIs allowing third-party integration.
Fierro points out the solution isn’t designed to track something like people or smartphones that would be constantly moving around and also often leaving the premises, then returning. The location is accurate within three to five meters, so it puts you in the right room to find the object, but if it’s hiding behind a curtain, you might have to look around a bit.
An ideal Aruba network setup will see access points placed no more than 50 feet apart for this solution to work. For those that don’t use Aruba’s BLE-enabled hot spots, HPE will still work to deploy the asset tracking solution, but it would require deploying a secondary network. But that sort of negates the whole point, Fierro says.
Pricing is done based on a per 100,000 square-foot model, with the entry level option starting at $9,000 per year. Tags for tracking assets are $40 per tag.