Today’s just-in-time and busy manufacturing processes means that manual tracking of pallets for inbound and outbound shipments often can’t keep pace with the speed of production. Production and assembly requires the quick locating of components. Delays and inaccuracies due to lost components lead to increased costs, employee frustration and ultimately customer disappointment.
Competitive pressures are also driving the need to reduce labour thus reducing the capacity to manually search for items. Customisation using configured options and demand-driven production is also increasing the degree of inbound component searching that exacerbates the problems.
Even those companies using legacy tracking solutions find that location is only as good as the last barcode or RFID scan. Humans get lazy, make mistakes and don’t scan, causing pallets, crates and boxes to get lost. Many RFID readers don’t work reliably near metal components. Relying on a system that can’t find just a few items can be worse that a manual system that works but is slower. Bluetooth asset tracking solves these problems because the location is automatically collected in real-time and is continually updated.
Asset tracking can be applied to items such as components, pallets, cases, tools, returnable assets such as racks and cages as well as items on loan to ensure they are returned on time. It can improve worker safety and provide alerts in cases of congestion, perimeter deviation and lone worker distress. It can ensure forklifts are being fully utilised, are taking an optimum route, haven’t crashed into racking and haven’t gone out of an area.
The real-time visibility allows connected systems to generate confirmation and exception alerts and automatically trigger shipping processes, replacing costly manual workflows. Tracking outputs also allows confirmation that the correct things are loaded on the correct transport.
A Bluetooth-based real time location system (RTLS) increases visibility and allows the manufacturing process to adapt in real-time to short term business needs. It provides cost savings, greater efficiency and business intelligence that can be used to derive larger scale changes based on data rather than gut instinct. Overall reporting of input and outputs provides input to management reporting to monitor the business.
Hotel Management has an article mentioning how hotel panic button solutions are being used by Curator Hotel & Resort Collection.
Employees wear a cellular wireless panic button that can be pressed when help is needed. Bluetooth beacons are placed around the hotel that allow the worker to be located.
There are other ways to implement such systems without needing expensive, extra, cellular wireless. For example, it’s possible to piggy back on phones employees are already carrying, use beacons with 2-way radio or have gateways around the hotel to detect location.
Beacons provide a significant improvement in the sign in process, reducing administration and providing for a quicker and easier sign in using the Ostara app. 1300 Bluetooth Beacons have been installed that are used by over 10,000 engineers.
A new version of TRBOnet has been released. TRBOnet is usually used with Motorola TRBO 2-way radio to provide control room facilities. Beacons can be placed across a site, the 2-radio detects them and TRBOnet plots them onto maps or plans.
This release additionally allows Android and iOS smartphones to be used as personal safety devices sending SOS to the TRBOnet control panel with location information. The app also allows push to talk (PTT) over cellular and sending of pictures to the control centre.
TRBO.SOS includes other advanced personal safety features, such as Man Down, Lone Worker and No Movement
On Android the app also supports the V.ALERT wearable Bluetooth panic button beacon.
Manage beacons, buildings, zones and broadcast messages. The web interface shows staff activity and allows staff to be assigned to tasks. Staff can update task status and provide notes from their smartphones.
A critical use for beacons is protecting lone workers or those that might experience duress. Lone worker solutions traditionally used RFID that required workers to manually check-in to locations. If workers forgot or were in trouble you only knew their last location. Newer systems such as Motorola TRBONet used with 2-way radios and BeaconRTLS™ used with generic beacons allow continual tracking of location.
Another usecase related to lone working is warning workers when they are about to enter a hazardous area. An example of this is Lone Worker Solutions’ Safe Beacon feature that creates a virtual perimeter. If a control room needs to know someone has entered (or left) a zone, real time locating systems (RTLS) like BeaconRTLS™ can be used to set up zones with alerts.
It’s also possible to have workers press a button on a beacon as a form of SOS when they are under duress. An example of this is HID Global’s new Badge Beacon that addresses the growing need to protect doctors, nurses and other caregivers from threatening situations that arise in the hospital environment. This can also been done in a generic way by using a RTLS and detecting a beacon button press. Simpler solutions are also possible by having a simple app on the worker’s phone detect the beacon button press and send an alert.
There are types of working where workers work alone without close or direct supervision. Employers have a legal duty of care to monitor such employees so that they can detect accidents, illness and, in some cases, an attack.
There are some rudimentary systems in place, particularly on sites such as airports, that use short range (1cm) RFID tags that workers have to periodically ‘check in’ to. With beacons, workers don’t have to check in and much of this is now automated. It also works at much larger ranges up to 300m.
Our BeaconRTLS system maps lone workers. Alerts can be created that show when people haven’t changed zone for a configurable amount of time. It’s also possible to trigger alerts when people enter or leave zones or when they press an ’emergency’ button on the beacon.
What’s more, the system can be used to map assets as well as people and when used with sensor beacons can detect and alert based on environmental factors such as temperature, humidity or whether doors are open or closed.