What is RTLS?
Real-Time Locating Systems (RTLS) are exact positioning systems which allow a user to identify and track a variety of items such as assets, tools, equipment, containers, production line WIPs, animals, patients, doctors, nurses, subway cars, defibrillators, etc.
Types of RTLS Technology:
$$$ Active RFID: uses battery supported radio which transmits to a reader. [Usage: Indoors]
$$$ Passive RFID: uses RF power transmitters to energize tags located by sectored atennas. [Usage: Indoors]
$ GPS: uses GPS satellites. [Usage: Outdoors]
$$ WiFi: uses GPS and Wi-Fi access points. [Usage: Indoors/Outdoors]
$ Bluetooth LE: uses beacon tags and gateways or smart devices. [Usage: Indoors/Outdoors]
An RTLS system provides immediate information on precisely where an item is (and has been) through steady communication between the tag and system. The tag or location aware device has a unique identifier and can carry additional information such as last and current location, product users, product origin, maintenance records, compliance, physical condition etc. This additional information is made available through sensors which can be customized within a tag. Through a program, users see a visible topography of all tagged individuals and items. This can be useful for warehouse management, production planning and scheduling, and transportation/delivery planning.
All RTLS systems track assets, but not all Asset Tracking Systems are RTLS.
Asset Tracking Systems are only termed RTLS if there is continuous communication between tagged assets and the system. Asset Tracking Systems which use Passive RFID are not Real-Time Location Systems. Any tracking system which tracks assets only at predetermined points such as doorways or thresholds does not qualify as RTLS. Consequently, not all Asset Tracking Systems have the capability of showing the user the immediate location of all assets on a graphic interface. Nor can these systems provide additional data on the history of the object’s handling and path through a facility.
Applications of RTLS
Asset Management: The management, tracking, and utilization of an asset.
Compliance: RTLS can track the entry of users into restricted areas and ensure regimens specified by the company, industry, or government are met through employee-asset association.
HR Management: The management of a human workforce as it relates to industry and operational compliance. RTLS uses include smart attendance monitoring, process compliance, efficiency monitoring, and employee-asset association.
Supply Chain Management: The monitoring of raw materials, inventories, parts, products, and workforce efficiency. RTLS also applies to inbound and outbound logistics such as shipments, deliveries, and the up-to-the minute tracking of containers and vehicles.
Safety and Security: The positioning of all employees, assets, processes, and products ensures safety and security issues are solved immediately. Employees are tracked as they enter hazardous areas or in the event of an evacuation.
Sensing and Monitoring: The monitoring of the environment around an asset. Bluetooth LE Beacons can monitor humidity, temperature, barometric pressure, etc.
Implementing RTLS can be easy once you have a vendor and service provider. Start with a small area of your business and scale up.
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