The industry is aware of the power of IoT. This technology can be made more effective when combined with RTLS. In this article, Tom Ruth, VP Americas, Quuppa, discusses the advantages the combination of these two technologies can provide across industries.
By now, most people are aware of the power of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is now an embedded part of our personal lives. Everything can be measured, counted, connected, and automated from our houses to workplaces. But, can we make it more effective when combined with another parallel technology, Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)? I believe it can and will.
Combined, they have the potential to provide a myriad of advantages across a wide range of professional areas, including workflow management, safety enhancement, data accuracy, system automation, and more. What is it about this coupling that yields success, and what are the lessons to ensure it’s done properly? That’s a question we’re nearing an answer to.
IoT connected devices are ballooning in numbers, with the expectation that there will be more than 70 billion globally by 2025. Throw in the growing deployment of 5G (and they are already talking about 6G!) – where it is estimated that one million 5G (IoT) devices will be able to fit in a square mile – and the growing proliferation of OpenRoaming Wi-Fi, and it becomes very clear that we are evolving towards a completely connected globe.
Obviously, the abundance of connected devices will significantly increase the amount of data available. While this data can be gold to many organizations, its usefulness is limited if the specific locations of the device are unknown. The information is at its most valuable when combined with both the content and the contextual information. That brings us to the other, less well understood, side of the coin, RTLS.
What is RTLS?
RTLS focuses on the detection of a person, product or vehicle in real-time. The use cases are seemingly endless, with new ones every day. There are two significant things needed for this information to be valuable: the position must be accurate, and the position needs to be communicated with no latency (hence the term “Real Time”).
RTLS consist of wireless nodes – usually as badges or tags – that emit signals to connected devices, providing accurately sensed information: temperature, velocity, heart rate, to name a few, in addition to the position of the object when the other information was sensed. The marriage of RTLS and IoT is extremely powerful, providing benefits for manufacturing facilities, warehouses, healthcare facilities and the list goes on. The real-time data uncovered can improve workflow management, safety procedures and operational efficiency by providing actionable events that trigger automated responses from systems.
Combining the Power of IoT and RTLS
Handheld phones today are already equipped to take advantage of location tracking. With a software update, most mobile devices can unlock the potential of IoT-powered RTLS seamlessly and cost-effectively. For example, this means that a visitor’s cellphone can enhance their experience at a concert venue, museum or sporting event. Additionally, phones can be used to attract loyal shoppers to a brick-and-mortar store or can help workers scan inventory for logistics and asset tracking. The position in a venue can be associated with a barcode or QR scan.
By combining IoT and RTLS, a site manager in the manufacturing and logistics industries can collect and store information from tags and readers all around the facility. With this data being constantly collected, valuable information can be sent to a computer, cell phone or another handheld mobile device, arming managers with real-time, accurate reporting.
But at the end of the day, it’s about location. Take, for example, trying to find a tiny piece of equipment in a vast industrial warehouse. Often, processes are slowed and even interrupted when something is lost. RTLS solves this, finding items that would otherwise be lost. Eliminating these roadblocks leads to increased productivity. And while you probably grasp the efficiency use case – imagine improving production – which means more revenue, faster. What about the health and safety of company assets and processes? There are very few limitations when it comes to the advantages of RTLS.
Another issue is labor, one of the biggest expenses of any business, as managers can now manage workflows and more. When we can combine RTLS with IoT in these industries, that increases efficiencies in management and the overall organization.
The pairing of these technologies can also improve ROI by increasing efficiencies or decreasing inefficiencies, streamlining processes and reducing downtime and waste.
The pairing of these technologies can also improve ROI by increasing efficiencies or decreasing inefficiencies, streamlining processes and reducing downtime and waste. Healthcare is probably the best example of this where, literally, lives are on the line. Any extra time identifying the cause of a symptom or locating an important device within the facility could be fatal. In addition to aiding the best possible care in those critical moments, IoT-enhanced RTLS is enabling improved, individually tailored services while saving medical facilities significant amounts of money. For instance, the simple use and management of assets and collecting accurate and impartial patient data can save hospitals millions from lost assets and delivering services more efficiently.
IoT-powered RTLS is a revolutionary technological advance for many businesses that can greatly improve their efficiencies. Is it essential for every business? Of course not; nothing necessarily is. However, for businesses that rely on warehousing, logistics and/or healthcare services (and more), it can improve ROI and bottom line.
Did you know?
This article was first published here: Toolbox.com