Cognosos, a supplier of enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) services, has introduced an inventory management platform that lets dealers track vehicles wirelessly across both large and multiple lots.
The platform, which is called , finished rolling out at four Atlanta-based Hennessy Automobile dealerships in February.
With Cognosos' new patented wireless cloud technology that allows dealerships to avoid time-consuming searches, Hennessy store personnel using the platform now have a more reliable and cheaper way to track and search inventory, says Cognosos chief executive officer Sandeep Vohra.
“We help dealerships become data-driven operations,” Vohra explained during a recent phone interview. “Our technology allows them to tell when a car leaves the lot, when it enters the lot, and it allows them to ... tell that this particular make, model and color has been test driven more than others.”
What is IoT?
The IoT refers to any object or device that sends and receives data automatically through the Internet.
“Things” includes objects (which are also known as labels or chips), as well as sensors and devices that interact with people and share information from machine to machine, according to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.
Within the automotive industry, growing demand to digitize and track vehicles has contributed to the rise in the use of IoT, reported Business Insider in 2016.
Ninety-four million connected cars are , predicts Business Insider's premium research service BI Intelligence.
RFID vs. wireless cloud technologies
Compared to IoT Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology systems that can be error-prone and more expensive to scale across an entire lot, RadioTrax trackers— which use wireless cloud technologies, can transmit its GPS location over a long-range wireless link to a gateway, Vohra explained.
RFID refers to a wireless system that that is made up of two components: tags and readers. RFID reader devices have one or more antennas that back from the RFID tag, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Tags communicate their identity and other information via radio waves to nearby readers that can either be passive or active. They are designed to store information that ranges from one serial number to several pages of data. While passive RFID tags are powered by the reader and do not have a battery, active RFID tags are powered by them.
“With RFID you only get a view of it when the asset such the car passes by an RFID scanner or someone has to physically go and scan them on a daily basis. And because of the range that we provide, it is fundamentally different than RFIDs,” said Vohra. “RFID is very short range technology, meaning you’ve got to be close to it you have to scan it on a regular basis and you have to be close to the scanner in order for it to register.”
A battery-operated tracker that is placed inside each vehicle relays location information back to activators and gateways that can easily scale to cover both large and multiple lots, Vohra said.
“It’s a combination of GPS devices and low-cost wireless networking technology that connect to each other and provide a real-time view of inventory,” he explained.
The RadioTrax installation process requires a simple antenna on a rooftop that connects to a gateway located in the building connected to the company’s RadioCloud platform via the internet.
Vohra said weather-hardened gateways are also available for outdoor installation when needed. And the trackers for RadioTrax are powered by a single AA battery that is easily replaceable and has a lifetime of up to two years.
In order to ensure coverage when tracking across multiple lots, an appropriate number of gateways need to be installed to cover the entire inventory of the dealership, he added.
“With a mobile device you can scan the barcode, scan the VIN number or stock number and that information gets sent into the cloud so now you have the tag associated with a particular VIN number or stock number of a car,” Vohra explained.
Hennessy Buick GMC new car sales manager Chris Moore said that in addition to sales staff efficiency, the product has noticeably improved the customer buying experience as well.
“RadioTrax saves our personnel 10 to 15 minutes per customer, greatly improving both the buying experience and our associates’ efficiency,” said Moore in a new release announcing RadioTrax’s deployment. “When someone wants to test drive a car they saw on our website, we can pull it up to the showroom door almost instantly – regardless of where it currently is within our seven lots.”
The RadioTrax rollout at four Hennessy Automobile dealerships began in May.
The four stores are the first dealerships to deploy RadioTrax. And the Hennessy Southlake store was the first to onboard RadioTrax.
“We help to do a bunch of things, not just locate cars,” added Vohra. “We help with automated inventory management. When you have large dealership groups that have dealerships in multiple states, the corporate headquarters can get a real-time view of their inventory and can get a feel for how many times a particular car is leaving the lot and entering the lot. They can manage their inventory far better than they can by waiting on non-real-time reports.”