Inventory Management Tracker

Client: Global Electronics Manufacturer

Services

Our team worked alongside the Client’s team to build an inventory tracking and management device integrated in the inventory management system.

Technology

C // Eagle for PCB design // Electronics design // Mechanical encloser design // STM LoPower microcontroller // STM low power SigFox transceive

Challenge

Our Client hired us to build a custom smart consignment inventory management (SCIM) platform for a delivery of consignment items to the hospital.

As a custom software development provider, we had to meet the following Client’s requirements:

  • 2+ years of device battery life.
  • Indoor and outdoor performance.
  • Small size.
  • Water and dust protection (IP65).
  • Two versions of the tracker to match SigFox and NB-IoT (Narrow Band Internet of Things).
  • Minimal changes at PCB level.
  • No changes for the tracker enclosure.
  • Low price. 
  • PCB and enclosure design must be suitable for mass-production, the design must involve a limited number of operations for mass production.
  • Short time to deliver: only 2 months to prototype including field testing.

Solution​

We built an IoT device that enables tracking of consignment items, informs customers of product usage and returns items to customers without hospital integration.

SCIM is composed of three key elements:

  • Tracking
  • Transporting
  • Monitoring consignment stock

Tracking

A smart tracker is applied to consignment items before shipping. The smart tracker monitors the consumption of the consignment item in the hospital.

Transporting

Consignment items are expected to be shipped on the next business day. The delivery on the hospital premises might imply items are shipped to a  department reception, specific ward or assigned person. Once items approach the end of their shelf lives, they should be picked up and replaced.

Monitoring

When a consignment item is used during a surgery, the device sends a message that indicates a decrease in the stock level. The customer receives a daily report which includes data on the consumed products. This automatically triggers the invoicing and stock replenishment processes on their side.

rinf.tech provided an end-to-end solution for inventory management tracking based on STM32 microcontroller. The radio network connectivity was covered using and S2-LP transceiver for the SigFOx version and an Quectel NB-IoT transceiver for the NB-IoT version.

The inventory tracker is registered to a management platform, and sends periodically information about the state of the tracked package.

The inventory tracker has a LED indicator to warn when the battery level is too low and needs to be replaced.

Methodology

Our team conducted an initial analysis phase to study the challenges of developing such a product and the various options in terms of microcontrollers and transceivers available on the market.

Having compared different specifications of such electronic components, we made the conclusion that ST Microelectronics components are the best option for this project.

Once the electrical components were chosen, we moved on to the design of the PCB and electronic schematics. For the design phase,  a few criteria were taken into account:

  • Size of a tracker
  • Antenna type and size
  • Electromagnetic interference
  • Network availability
  • Radio power signal

 

PCB design and prototypes manufacturing were done on the rinf.tech premises. On top of that, we built the electrical components for the tracker prototype and firmware for ST microcontroller in own IoT laboratory.

Once the prototype was built, we conducted field testing to verify if the prototype covers the requirements.

We provided all design blueprints for our Client to use in mass production.

Results

Our team managed to fully meet the Client’s budget constraints and helped them significantly speed up their time to market.

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