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Understanding Real-Time Location Technology

by wrich

By: Fabio Belloni, Chief Customer Officer, Quuppa

To the average person, location-based services (LBS) mean GPS enabled satellite navigation systems or phone software, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This comes as no surprise given how satellite-based software and other radio communications have become so ingrained in our everyday lives.

As technology has continued to expand and evolve, LBS has grown into something entirely different. Most of this change has been driven by a growing demand from businesses for real-time, accurate and reliable location data to improve their processes and operations as part of the drive towards digital transformation.

It’s often said that knowledge is power and this is particularly true within the enterprise sector, where accurate data and insights can significantly increase business efficiency, productivity and profitability. Accurately determining the location of people, objects and assets as they move from one place to another can provide a wealth of knowledge into what’s going on within a certain setting. Using real-time locating systems (RTLS), tags, badges or sensors are placed on people or objects that emit wireless signals to connected devices, providing real-time and accurate data on work processes.

With that in mind, investments into RTLS are increasing significantly, with vendors spending substantial resources to make location systems more accurate, reliable and easy to use across different markets. In fact, the RTLS market revenue is expected to reach 15363 million USD in 2025 as its adoption increases across multiple industries.

The benefits associated with this technology span many use-cases. Within the manufacturing industry,  for example tags are placed on all equipment, allowing workers to track assets at all times. This can drastically reduce the amount of time workers spend      searching warehouses that span hundreds of meters. We have seen concrete examples where companies have decreased load times from 45 minutes to 7, contributing to massive savings in terms of both time and resources.

Likewise, within hospital settings, medical staff can keep track of where equipment is at all times, greatly reducing workflow inefficiencies, especially during emergencies. Knowing where equipment is allows workers to spend less time looking for assets and more time on patient care.

In all kinds of environments, employee safety is always a concern, particularly in large facilities or warehouses where different people come and go throughout the day. RTLS can be implemented using ID badges, mobile devices or key-cards to control who has access to certain areas within a building. Tags can be configured to warn workers if they are entering high-risk zones and to check whether the worker is wearing the correct equipment, ensuring that compliance and security regulations are being adhered to.

For overall efficiency within the engineering and manufacturing industry, businesses can track equipment within production lines and gather insights into how it’s being used. With this insight, any inefficiencies or bottlenecks can be identified and rectified straight away, helping to streamline operations and reduce any costs associated with errors on the production line. Likewise, catching process deviations as they arise means businesses can spot errors and correct them before the product reaches the customers.

Looking beyond work-related use cases, RTLS is now also being used in team sports to give a cutting-edge over competitors. Small tags are placed into the player’s uniform, providing data on athlete performance such as top speed, distance covered, jumps and tackles. This insight proves valuable for coaches and players to detect strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

To find success using location technology, businesses need to first understand the use cases. The technology is complex and has many multiple capabilities, so understanding what type of software will work best for a company’s applications is key. For example, RTLS tracks the position of assets or workers, but adding a layer of LBS on top really allows businesses to make sense of the data and make rules accordingly to optimise processes. Adopting a versatile solution that ensures flexibility among different applications will help businesses get the most out of the technology. 

With this technology, the benefits and applications are limitless and it’s only a matter of time before we see RTLS and LBS become standard in business settings. Its use cases span a wide cross section of industries including smart buildings, manufacturing, logistics, Industry 4.0, healthcare, sports and more. Its reliability, versatility and scalability means that it can transform operations and offer businesses a cutting edge over their competitors. With the implementation of RTLS in IoT operations, it’s an exciting time for location-based technology and we’re very much looking forward to seeing increased adoption across multiple industries.

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