IoT, asset tracking and authentication  

By Linxens , on January 17th 2022
An interview with Cyril Proye, IoT Marketing Director at Linxens.

"Growth drivers in miniaturization and energy optimization".

Asset tracking and authentication are among the main ingredients of the Internet of Things, especially when applied to the manufacturing industry. What is it all about? Which sectors are concerned, for which uses and with which benefits? What are Linxens' answers today, but also in the face of future challenges?

What do we mean by ‘asset tracking’ and ‘authentication’, in the IoT context?
Cyril Proye - They are part of the four IoT or "Internet of Things" pillars that we have defined within Linxens. The other two are sensors and data communication. Asset tracking consists of locating or geolocating raw materials, products, equipment, operators, vehicles, to name a few. The tracking, protection and monitoring of these elements are essential to the functioning and performance of a company, especially industrial ones. Asset tracking makes it possible to understand flows, improve processes, limit loss and theft, and ensure the safety of operators and follow-up of instructions. As for authentication, it consists of identifying a part or a product at a given location, retrieving the required information, and then communicating it for various purposes, such as protecting the brand against counterfeiting.

What are the different sectors involved?
IoT today is very fragmented, with thousands of small cases and very diverse applications, ranging from simple tracking to monitoring to energy management. The sectors concerned are mobility, logistics, security, prevention, but also agriculture, construction, health and education. The manufacturing industry is of course an increasingly important consumer of asset tracking and authentication.

What are the benefits of asset tracking and authentication?
Asset tracking represents a technologically mature market in the manufacturing industry. In this context, the notion of benefits is verymuch linked to the measurement of return on investment. Indeed, RFID taken as a whole, or HF and UHF antennas, represent a cost for companies. The ROI must therefore be proven over the whole chain: everything must be counted, and we must know where errors may have occurred and how much they cost. Industries that dematerialize their processes often use RFID chips. This is especially true of the large assemblers, such as those in the automotive sector, who need to manage and track a large quantity of parts and avoid losing them. Asset tracking can also be used to detect shocks, humidity levels, pressure variations and the opening of containers. Measuring temperatures in real time allows industrialists or farmers, for example, to make immediate and informed decisions. Ultimately, once analyzed and valorized, this large quantity of collected data allows the creation of new services and new uses, all of them applicable to professional practices. As for authentication, the biggest benefit today is the protection of brands, via the fight against counterfeiting. Linked to valuable products and parts whose manufacturers want to protect the original parts, the chips are then more complex with a reinforced embedded security.

What is Linxens' answer?
To date, 5 billion RFID antennas have been supplied by Linxens and 80% of the world's population uses our products in one way or another. We design and manufacture flexible electronic modules that embed a chip for a specific functionality, NFC tags and RFID antennas. These products are then deployed by system integrators, service providers or directly by large industrial groups. The demand is nowadays very fragmented, which leads Linxens to build tailor-made proposals, serving all types of industries. However, in order to respond to major trends, such as miniaturization, we are seeking to rationalize our offer by developing new products. The result is a multitude of applications in industry 4.0, logistics, inventory management, retail, IoT in the broadest sense, vehicle identification and even healthcare. Beyond the reliability and technical excellence of our products, our users benefit from several other advantages: exceptional corrosion resistance, physical protection adapted to all IoT applications, and standardization of the modules, which facilitates their integration into any type of connected devices and circuits.

Do you have any examples of Linxens' asset tracking collaborations?
We recently won a contract with a well-known manufacturer of high-tech products, to track the assembly of hundreds of parts. These parts will be tagged to avoid errors and this will correspond to 10 or 20 million parts per year, which is huge. However, in general, Linxens targets high value-added products in technical markets. Another customer, a large German car manufacturer, is a good example: our customers deliver our RFID tags to them, and they are integrated in their assembly parts. A big name in the complete supply of integration services in manufacturing also uses our products.

And in authentication?
The ink cartridges of a major printer manufacturer are equipped with a module consisting of a Linxens connector and a chip, which is associated with another connector. The two parts must recognize each other (authenticate each other) to allow the printer to function. Another case: the authentication of electronic cigarette refills. This is a health issue, as electronic cigarettes are currently poorly regulated. The key is to know if I have the right refill, what it contains, where it comes from. Linxens has proposed this solution to investors in China, where cigarette purchases are in the billions. There is a real need and a real market.

How is Linxens positioned in the industrial asset tracking market of tomorrow?
IoT is constantly evolving, especially in the manufacturing industry. The advent of video tracking is one of the foreseeable innovations that will replace all or part of some current solutions. Linxens will therefore be a force to be reckoned with thanks to its agility and innovation capabilities. Growth drivers will probably be found in miniaturization: we have succeeded with the SIM card, we will succeed in IoT. Energy optimization will also be a promising area, with the aim of offering products that consume less energy, from manufacture to recycling, and including the use phase.


Cyril Proye  

With more than fifteen year's experience in the smart card ecosystem, Cyril Proye is currently Marketing Director at Linxens, in charge of marketing or Linxens' solutions for both the IoT and Telecom markets.
As engineer, Cyril has extensive experience in R&D, process development and product management for Smart Cards.

For more information, please contact Cyril or one of our Sales Experts