Location tracking & IoT. 7 popular devices comparison

Location tracking & IoT. 7 popular devices comparison

Jakub Grabny
Jakub Grabny
February 01, 2021  | 6 min read

The way you ship the goods imposes specific dimensions or features of the location tracking device. Before you invest in IoT, you need to consider a few things.

  • Will you use small carton boxes, pallets or large metal containers?
  • Will the shipment be exposed to extreme weather conditions?
  • Are you going to use services of external courier or 3PL companies?

But also

  • What are the technical capabilities of the device?
  • What environmental conditions can it monitor?
  • What with a frequency and precision of the location tracking?

These factors affect the choice of a proper IoT shipment tracking device. And by proper we think about right dimensions, and with other fitting-your-needs physical features.

 

Should you bother about IoT devices’ physical parameters?

Answers to these questions will limit the size of the device you could use, the way it is built, its mounting possibilities and other things which are not strictly related to the technical functionality of the solution such as the device case, battery, IP rating or additional certifications.

Think about it.

Small device might be a good fit for tracking carton boxes of standard size. You would put it inside the parcel. It is a simple case to solve.

But large metal containers, which could block the GSM and GPS signal, may require rigid device mounted on the exterior with screws or a magnet clip.

Would you agree?

 

Tested devices

But to the point. In our study Independent tests of location tracking devices, we compared the following devices:

  1. K-2 from Kizy Tracking
  2. TG7 from TrustedGlobal
  3. T9 from TrustedGlobal
  4. CelloTrack Nano from Cellocator 
  5. Logmore’s tracker
  6. Zero from LightBug
  7. Pro from LightBug

And this article is a part of our report: Independent tests of location tracking devices. Here we describe essential physical features of mentioned above IoT devices.

It is like a mini guide before you decide what to buy for your company.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us anytime by this for or in the comments section.

 

Kizy Tracking - K-2 tracker

With thicker credit card format, this Kizy’s tracker represents a group of small trackers. Its size of 84 x 53 x 8.5 mm and weight of 42 grams make it fit almost everywhere, it can be shipped even in a bubble envelope.

The size has been significantly reduced by using GSM module only, which greatly increases battery life in comparison with GPS devices, so the smaller, 900mAh, lithium-ion battery is enough for the device to last from 10 days up to 1 year depending on tracking scheme.

The battery can be recharged with USB-C plug. The same port can be used to attach external sensors or extended battery pack if you need to prolong the battery life on a single charge. The USB-C is the only port available in the device. It has also 3 LEDs visible through a small mesh panel.

The whole tracker is cased with a non-flammable plastic, which feels a bit soft, but should be perfectly fine if packaged carefully.

The tracker is classified with IP54, so it’s protected from limited dust ingress and water spray from any direction and can operate in temperatures from -20 to 55 degrees.

CE, FCC, CCC and FSS certifications allow import and usage of the device almost all over the world where 2G or 3G connection is available.

 

TrustedGlobal trackers

TG7 device provides completely different build. With 68 x 68 x 25 mm dimensions and weight of 170 grams, it is clearly bigger and heavier than the Kizy Tracker.

The tracker feels really solid and hermetic due to its polymer housing potted with epoxy. The device case does not have any ports or slots, which only increases its hermetic feel, but also makes it impossible to attach a charger, so the device should be disposed when its battery is discharged.

It is compensated by installing a battery which is significantly larger to power up both GSM and GPS modules and multiple built-in sensors for a long time. 29Wh lithium battery containing 2.07 grams of lithium is sufficient to last for over a year with multiple reports a day. 

Information about lithium content is important in terms of air shipment regulations which applies for devices with installed lithium metal batteries.

IP69k classification guarantees total protection from dust ingress, as well as from steam-jet cleaning which means the device will not be affected even by extreme weather conditions and can be safely attached to package or asset exterior, eg., metal container. The device is guaranteed to function in temperature from -30 to 85 degrees.

Mounting with dedicated kit with screws is possible with two holes on the diagonal edges of the tracker. TrustedGlobal offers also a mounting magnet kit or special tapes to attach the device to a cargo.

TrustedGlobal’s devices come in a few other versions which includes the same technical functionalities, but provide larger battery, which results in a bigger size and weight.

  • TG8 device weighs 190 grams and is slightly thicker than TG7 with 68 x 68 x 28 mm.
  • TG9 is almost twice a size of TG8, with large 47Wh battery it weighs 405 grams and has 112 x 68 x 39 mm dimensions.
  • The largest one, TG9+ is thicker than TG9 with 112 x 68 x 44 mm, weights 425 grams and contains 94Wh battery with 7.6 grams of lithium content.

There is also the S1 tracker which communicates with Iridium satellite network. Its size is the same as TG9, however it weights 420 grams and has the same battery as TG9+, 94Wh with 7.6 grams of lithium.

 

Cellocator - CelloTrack Nano

CelloTrack Nano is one of many Cellocator devices.

Embedded GSM and GPS modules enable real-time location and condition tracking. It is possible to expand tracking area by using small wireless sensors which communicate with the main device with installed RF module.

Modules and sensors were cased in 86.2 x 59.1 x 22.7 mm housing with 1300 mAh lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged via micro USB port. The total weight of the device is only 96 grams.

Full protection from dust ingress and high pressure water jets from any direction is ensured by IP rating 66.

The device is also compliant with FAA and IATA guidelines in terms of usage during air shipment as it automatically terminates all forbidden transmissions and log all data internally. Normal operation mode is restored after landing.

The vendor provides multiple certifications such as FCC, CE, IC, PTCRB, UL, GDP or SAR. It is also verified with EN12830:1999 certificate to be used as a temperature recorder for food transport.

Apart from putting the device inside the parcel, it can be attached to a cargo with double-sided adhesive tape or with a cradle, either with screws, magnetic cradle or belt clip. Full performance of the device is available in temperature from -20 to 60 degrees and up to 95% humidity level.

 

Logmore - the device for passive tracking and tracing

The device by Logmore is the tiniest one in the group. Its small size of 44.2 x 46.2 x 6 mm with only 15 grams of weight is possible due to lack of GSM or GPS modules.

The device supports passive tracking with QR code scans. E-ink display shows QR code with logged sensor data which is synchronized when the code is scanned with a mobile phone.

Apart from the display, the device is equipped with various sensors depending on the model.

Location is provided by the scanning device during the synchronization. Such solution might be useful when you do not need real-time tracking, but you want to check environmental conditions during the shipment after you receive it.

If you use your own shipment service, you can enforce QR scans at given checkpoints to know the location of your goods.

Without communication modules, battery life is extremely long, from 4 years with 15 minutes measuring interval to up for 10 years with longer refresh interval.

With IP rating 67, the unit is protected from total dust ingress and from immersion between 15 centimetres and 1 meter in depth. Due to that, the device can be safely used both inside a parcel or attached to its exterior.

Screen update can work in temperatures from 0 to 50 degrees, while overall operating temperature is from -30 to 60 degrees.

 

LightBug

Lighbug tracking devices come in two variants:

  • LightBug Zero - smallest GPS tracking device in the offer with size of 53 x 38 x 12 mm and small weight of 33 grams
  • and second variant, LightBug Pro with size comparable to a deck of cards (77 x 55 x 27 mm) which weighs 140 grams.

Both devices provide reliable location gathering with use of satellite navigation systems such as GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU, GALILEO and QZSS, with fallback to cell tower triangulation and enhanced indoors positioning thanks to WiFi Positioning System.

Devices communicate with the server using 4G LTE-M and NBIoT technologies with fallback to 2G connection.

Integrated SIM card enables operation in most countries over the world.

The main difference between devices is installed battery.

LightBug Zero is equipped with 850 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery which can operate up to one year depending on the configured update rate.

Pro device allows a choice of single use 8000 mAh LiSoCl2 (lithium-thionyl chloide) battery or rechargeable 6600 mAh lithium-ion battery. Significantly larger unit installed in the Pro device provides battery life from months to even more than 15 years.

LightBug Zero is rated with IP66, which fully protects it from dust ingress and high-pressure water jets.

Thanks to robust build, Pro device is invulnerable to immersion up to 1 meter which is confirmed by IP67 rating.

Both devices can operate in a wide temperature range, Zero device will work from 0 to 50 degrees, while Pro device can function from -30 (single use battery) / -10 (rechargeable battery) to 60 degrees.

Smaller unit perfectly fits even in an envelope, it can be also attached to something through its key-ring hole. Pro unit can be ordered with optional magnetic or adhesive mount and safely attached to your parcel.

 

Summary

We tested 7 professional IoT devices so you could choose the best option for your shipment tracking needs.

Devices' features and specifications described in the article will help you invest in the best option. To learn more about IoT and see trackers' tests, download full report: Independent tests of location tracing devices.

The market offers broad range of devices, from ultra-small units like Logmore, to indestructible TrustedGlobal’s “black boxes”. They can operate in various conditions, be configured to provide frequent real-time readings or serve as a data logger for passive tracking. The devices may include either rechargeable lithium-ion batteries or larger units designed for longer one-time use.

Air shipment, sea freight or road transportation will require different selection, as well as the decision whether to use small boxes or large containers.

Some devices are meant to be put inside the parcel, while others can be mounted on the cargo with various accessories. Exterior usage will be exposed to much more extreme conditions, such as low or high temperature, humidity or rain. Choosing the right option for your shipment needs might be a tough task.

Fortunately, with our knowledge of available tracking solutions, we can help you to select one that fulfills your requirements the most.