Keep Track of Your Assets Using Real-Time Location Systems
- Vikas Kumar
- May 5, 2022
- BLOG, TELECOM & IT
- Keep Track of Your Assets Using Real-Time Location Systems
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Real-Time Location System (RTLS) can be defined as a type of system that allows you to track the current location of any given object or an individual. These systems offer easy identification and tracking of assets including tools, machinery, automobiles, equipment, and inventory, among others. This is relatively a new technology that tracks and manages assets or people as they move through an indoor facility. However, with the rapid growth in technology, there has been a shift from indoor asset tracking, to outdoor asset tracking, a combination of both indoor/outdoor asset tracking. Thus, the real-time location systems market is expected to boost in the upcoming years owing to the presence of a wide variety of new solutions in the market and declining prices of RTLS systems.
Working of RTLS
Typically, a location tag is attached to an item. The receivers that are fixed in the surrounding environment receive the signals from these tags when they move around enabling them to figure out the current location of these items. This is then communicated to the platform being used by the system. The data collected by the receiver can be made usable by the platform. Thus, this platform can be customized or tailored as per the requirements of the users. For example, interactive maps can be offered by some platforms which show, in real-time, where the asset that is being tracked is located.
Zebra Technologies Corporation, Skytron LLC, Stanley Black & Decker, Savi Technology, etc. are some of the key players in the RTLS market. They offer different types of RTLS solutions and some of the most popular ones are mentioned below:
- PASSIVE RFID: Passive tags are usually smaller, inexpensive, and have no onboard battery. These tags receive power wirelessly within several meters of a receiver. Passive RFID is more durable and is most suitable for short-range, presence-based RTLS use cases.
- ACTIVE BLUETOOTH-BASED RTLS: Active tags communicate with receivers throughout the buildings which then send the information to the cloud. The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tags can be for reducing system & operational costs and enabling asset tracking. This RTLS option is great for small businesses looking to scale as it is often the least expensive option.
- WI-FI RTLS: In this RTLS, the tags communicate with multiple access points via Wi-Fi signals. This is one of the more accurate systems of RTLS that allows getting the location within a few feet. Also, this is one of the most expensive and power-consuming solutions.
- INFRARED RTLS: In this type of system, the communication takes place via infrared ID signals which are given off by the asset tag.Thesesignals are then picked up by a receiver that is typically on the ceiling. These systems are expensive and generally, these tags have a shorter battery life as compared to others.
- ULTRA WIDE-BAND RTLS (UWB): This RTLS system uses small, low-powered tags that transmit an ultra wide-band signal using a spark-gap-style transmitter. this is the most accurate of all RTLS solutions mentioned here and is a gold standard in terms of location precision, but UWB systems are very expensive.
Applications of RTLS in various industries
RTLS has a wide variety of applications in various enterprises. Some of them are explained below:
- HEALTHCARE: RTLS in healthcare can be used for inventory tracking and management, staff locating and monitoring (including patient tracking), along with access control and security. It also helps in improving clinical quality by capturing workflow efficiencies and cost reduction.
- MANUFACTURING: RTLS applications in the manufacturing sector are focused on control of inventory and management of work in progress. One of the most prevalent technology solutions in manufacturing is Ultra-wideband (UWB) due to its highly accurate location capabilities. Also, manufacturing is often referred to as one of the fastest-growing vertical markets for RTLS.
- OIL & GAS: To ensure safety in places such as refineries or oil rigs and to control & monitor assets over larger areas like pipelines and oil fields RTLS are used.
- GOVERNMENT AND DEFENSE: Organizations are seekingto control and track large inventories of everything from IT equipment to arms.
- EDUCATION: RTLS can help students and staff tracking which is often attempted via Bluetooth beaconing from applications installed on phones. Apart from this, RTLS can also be used for asset tracking which is commonly concerned with various IT equipment or other high-value lab equipment.
- OTHERS: RTLS has a wide range of applications in various other industries also which include Construction, Mining, Automotive, Agriculture, Hotels, and Transporation among others.
The real-time Location System is the future that is easily integrated into the concept of the Internet of Things. It is one of the promising technology that helps quickly identify or track the assets of your interest and view a location in real-time. Many enterprises are investing substantially in deploying RTLS to their operations owing to the various regulatory changes and to achieve greater efficiency and quality. Furthermore, with the huge number of applications across different types of industries, the RTLS market is growing rapidly across the globe.
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