Improving efficiency – this is the main challenge enterprises face today. Every day, company managers have to deal with the implementation of an increasing number of tasks, while taking care of the quality of what they offer. New technologies help in the daily fight for better work results. The one that deserves special attention is RTLS, i.e. real-time location systems.
RTLS stands for Real-Time Location System. This concept first appeared at the end of the nineties of the last century. Real-time location system makes locating various objects easier by automating the process of their identification.
It is a modern technological solution based on the so-called UWB (Ultra Wide Band), i.e. based on the broadband radio wave technology. In other words, thanks to the fact that the transmitter emits radio waves, it is possible to accurately determine its position.
In addition, TDoA (i.e. Time Difference of Arrival) is used here. This solution involves the use of at least two receivers (or sensors). They analyze the time differences that arise when receiving radio waves emitted by the receiver. It is on the basis
of information from these sensors that the position of the transmitter is determined (where it is in relation to the receiver).
In practice, RTLS technology allows for the ongoing identification and tracking of the location of people or objects. It is possible with high accuracy inside buildings – for example in warehouses or in production facilities.
This technology is developing constantly – along with the evolving needs in commercial markets. More and more often, it is an integral part of the company’s operations.
RTLS is used both in industry and in logistics. In the first case, automotive industry is the leader. In turn, in the latter – an example may be the management of full pallets by large logistics operators. Thus, this technology directly or indirectly influences many factors – for example:
Real-Time Location System is a response to the needs of many companies. In particular, companies from transport and production industries, as well as those that provide various services. It is here that the frequent need for continuous monitoring of various objects is visible.
RTLS is a guarantee of good signal quality. It can “walk” through other objects or walls. In addition, its range is practically unlimited, and at the same time extremely precise – it provides the location of people and things with an accuracy of several centimeters (even in extremely demanding industrial conditions)!
These transmitters are also characterized by low energy consumption. Importantly, they can also be quickly and easily recharged. This can be done using an internal battery, or directly – as a power supply from the device (for example from the power supply of a forklift truck).
This solution can be useful for efficient inventory management (following the previous example about warehouse), as well as for effective human resource management. In this case, the usual arrangements on a piece of paper or in a spreadsheet are replaced with modern technology – one that allows for the automation of operations, as well as quick response to changes or inaccuracies. The key to success is clearly visible flow of materials and people. You can see, for example, how and where the pallets are moved. Thanks to RTLS, the time when it happens is also precisely calculated.
What is more, RTLS technology not only enables acceleration of operations, but also helps in diagnosing the problem related to ineffective operation. In this way, the speed of service can be improved quickly and efficiently. It is also easy to analyze any errors, because the data is collected and analyzed here – such analyzes can be carried out on an ongoing basis or later, at a convenient time.
Special transmitters, called tags or markers, help to monitor the position of various objects. They are placed directly on them, making it easy to determine the location of the item. The great advantage of this technology is that everything happens in real time. In fact, it is possible to control what is in the warehouse, for example, on an ongoing basis. And this, in turn, gives the opportunity to closely monitor the stage of production.
What is important, RTLS technology can be useful not only for locating things. In a certain area, this may also apply to people. Special RFID tags can not only be attached to individual items, but can also be worn by people. The signals obtained from them help to easily and, above all, determine their location on an ongoing basis.
What helps in reading the location of individual objects are receivers, located exactly in the area that we want to control. These are very precise devices that “read” pulses from transmitters. In practice, they can indicate exactly where the vehicle operators are, as well as themselves – for example where the forklifts are at any given moment.
RTLS technology enables precise analysis of the movement of things and people, to which individual transmitters are assigned. Going further, it also allows the identification and then elimination of the so-called bottlenecks in the workflow. Getting rid of such weakest links saves time and money.