Tracking loaded pallets saves a significant amount of time, effort and hence cost in logistics and manufacturing. Pallets might contain stock, components or sub-assemblies. The top usecase is finding a particular pallet quickly. However, sensing need not be limited to pallets. Extending tracking to forklifts, racking and even people provides additional business benefits. For example, we have previously been asked to provide for the following scenarios:
“I need to ensure best use of my forklifts. Tell me when one hasn’t moved for 2 minutes.”
“I need to know if a forklift has crashed into racking.”
“I run a warehouse containing hazardous materials. If evacuation is needed, I need to know everyone has evacuated the building even if someone has temporarily gone off site”
These situations, and more, are solvable using Bluetooth beacons (In terms of asset tracking, beacons are sometimes called tags).
RFID and barcodes can also be used for tracking. However, the information is only as good as the last scan that might have been a long time ago after which the asset might have moved without being scanned. The advantage of beacons is that they repeatedly advertise so the information is always up to date.
Further advantages of Bluetooth tags are:
- Being commodity items rather than specialist devices, tags and readers are relatively inexpensive compared to other proprietary technologies such as ultra wideband (UWB).
- They consume very low power and battery lifetimes of 5 to 10 years are possible.
- They are readable from handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets, providing for additional possibilities within the warehouse.
Once you have some current and historical data you can also start to do clever things such as automatically detecting and predicting over or under utilisation, finding pinch points or detecting valuable equipment about to be stolen.
Read about Asset Tracking for Manufacturers