If you lead and manage a company, department, group, or just a responsible employee, one of your major tasks is to conduct real-time location tracking of people, objects, and other things. People are constantly on the move. And tracking everything and everyone manually can hardly be called pleasant.
Besides, it takes too much time. However, using location analytics, you can create something like live maps and applications for fast, real-time, and high-quality monitoring. Observe the present processes, compare them with the past, analyze, and make the right decisions.
For the proper stability and quality of real-time location tracking, a systematic approach is required. This is where a dedicated real-time location system (RTLS) is the best way to go. With the help of such a system, the responsible operator is enabled to quickly determine the location of an object, and at the same time track the trajectory of a large number of objects in a specific area.
Analytical research allows for timely identification of issues and optimization of logistic processes, operation of devices and equipment, routing of vehicles, as well as the working time of employees. Office buildings, industrial complexes, shopping centers, museums, quarries, mines, etc. are all monitored areas.
How does RTLS Work?
The most common real-time location systems are usually equipped with tags and beacons that are attached to monitored objects. To determine the location of the object, so-called points with set coordinates are used. These are the antennas (anchors and gateways) with which the monitored areas are covered.
To collect data from beacons, a real-time location tracker is used, which in turn transmits data to a special stationary software or to a location tracking mobile app. By analyzing the received signal levels and simple mathematical algorithms, the software determines the location of the object in real time. Thanks to the informative visualization of the received data, the system operator can easily analyze them and make a timely decision.
Where are RTLS systems used?
Access control and accounting. The system tracks the location of company employees and visitors in real time. With the help of the same system, it is possible to keep track of working hours and build maps of movement according to the data received. Having received this kind of information, you will be able to accurately track the amount of time spent by an employee to perform specific work, as well as the completeness of tasks by analyzing the employee’s performance at checkpoints.
Navigation inside large rooms. Having determined the location of the object, it is much easier to make the most optimal route to it. Don’t waste your precious time on unnecessary movements in the wrong directions. If you are a warehouse employee, you can easily find the shelving you need and make sure the buyer is in the right department in the shopping center, a visitor or museum employee is at the right exhibit, and so on.
Real-time location tracking of important assets on the premises of the enterprise. With the help of RTLS, you can track and analyze the optimal transport routes in warehouses, the frequency and places of use of expensive equipment, and other important things.
Fast response. RTLS allows you to receive instant alerts in case, for example, an employee experiences unforeseen problems that threaten their life or health. The operator will receive a signal from the worker’s beacon, quickly determine his/her location, and dispatch a rescue team.
Evacuation. One of the most important aspects of enterprise security is a prompt response to unforeseen circumstances that may require general evacuation. In this case, the real-time location system helps rescue teams to quickly locate employees, guests, customers, find optimal routes and provide timely assistance with evacuation.
Up to date, the real-time location tracking market is represented by a very large number of solutions, but we offer you only four of the most popular of them: RFID, UWB, BLE, and Wi-Fi.
All RTLS connection solutions are flexible enough and have broad capabilities. Due to the high adaptability to almost any task and with a minimal investment of time, you will hardly have to worry about extra expenses when choosing the real-time location tracking technology you need. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.
Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID)
The main task of this technology is to quickly identify a large number of objects at a distance. RFID is capable of covering an area with a radius of up to 10 meters using standard equipment (passive tags) and up to 20 meters using semi-active tags. This solution has found the greatest application in tracking the movement of marked objects at specified points where real-time location trackers are installed for mass identification of objects when they arrive at their destination.
Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)
This RTLS technology refers to radio frequency ultra-wideband systems, the channel of which contains 20% modulation of the center frequency. The most important advantage of such systems is the high accuracy of determining the location of the object (up to 10 cm). They also have high security, stable accuracy in buildings with complex geometries, and strong anti-jamming capabilities. However, such systems are still prohibited by law in a number of countries.
This well-known connectivity technology for real-time location tracking remains the most popular on the market. The huge popularity is largely due to the relatively low cost of equipment. And yet acceptable accuracy (3-5 meters) is possible only with a sufficiently dense placement of tracking points.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
The most advanced and highly functional technology on the market today. Despite the fact that this solution is a complete alternative to Wi-Fi, in most cases, it is used in conjunction with Wi-Fi technology. By changing the signal frequency 1600 times per second, increased security and transmission protection is provided.
BLE is characterized by low energy consumption. Consequently, beacons can operate continuously for up to several years without battery replacement while maintaining a sufficient object identification accuracy (up to 3 meters). This technology is widely used in modern smartphones and is flexible enough to interact with smart devices. For instance, one may track the smartphones of store visitors to send appropriate notifications.
As a rule, the choice of the optimal option of the system is based on three main factors: the size of the observation area, the tracking accuracy, and the number of objects to be covered.
Usually, depending on the scale of the monitored area, be it a country, city, town, or other open areas with low tracking accuracy, GPS systems are often preferred.
If you plan to carry out real-time location tracking in closed premises (office, warehouse, production spaces, etc.), while there is no need for high accuracy of object identification, you can quite successfully use Wi-Fi RTLS systems. The hardware for such systems is affordable but it requires a fairly dense placement of beacons and frequent replacement of identifiers.
If you need very accurate and secure tracking in a small area, UWB systems are your solution. However, its use requires prior approval from the regulatory authorities.
But if you are looking for something more capable, for example, with long service life, low price, and flexible functionality that interacts with smartphones, then BLE systems are what you need.
UHF RFID systems can also be a fairly optimal solution for you if you need to perform real-time location tracking of a large number of objects by their presence in the room or their passage through control points at the enterprise.
Modern state-of-the-art real-time location tracking solutions are the foundation for great location tracking mobile apps that can dramatically improve efficiency, productivity, and safety across all industries. Our company has sufficient practical and expert experience in the development and validation of real-time location systems to provide any assistance in choosing a system or developing an application from scratch.