Last week on the Bright Ideas series presented by Acuity Brands®, the Vice President of Applied IoT Solutions Troy Miller joined Catherine to discuss how to deploy a real-time location system (RTLS), based on the pros and cons of various communications technologies. This week, we’re going to cover what the application of an IoT real-time location service solution looks like.
CHOOSE AN RTLS WIRELESS INFRASTRUCTURE BASED ON YOUR GOALS.
The application of your RTLS will be affected by the use cases your facility has in mind; and whether you choose RFID, Ultra-Wideband, Wifi, or Bluetooth® Low Energy technologies. The method you choose will provide data to assist future decision-making, which will help to increase productivity in your facility.
Industrial plant managers are looking for location data from their RTLS system that can provide insights into the positions of people and assets throughout the facility. The movements of cranes, fork truck vehicles, tools, raw materials, and finished goods are just a few examples.
If a plant or facility has tools or safety equipment that require regular calibration – or worse, regularly go missing – then real-time location systems can inform management where they are at any given moment. This includes sending managers automatic alerts whenever something is transported away from its station when it should be stationary.
It’s also important for all of this location data to be flexible and easy to tailor to individual customer needs. That means not just the ability to program alerts, but also the ability to change the frequency at which data is recorded (every second, every minute, every hour, or longer).
USE THE DATA FROM REAL-TIME LOCATION SYSTEMS TO IMPROVE MAINTENANCE, SAFETY, AND MORE.
The possibilities of applying your RTLS data are fairly limitless, and every user has a different unique use case for which they’ve initially installed it.
A common example of RTLS usage is fork truck fleet tracking. By tagging every vehicle in that fleet, you can determine whether all of the vehicles are used regularly, or whether they’re being used more than originally expected and will require maintenance earlier or more frequently than is assigned on their current schedule. Are they straying outside a geofence you may have set up? You don’t want an indoor fork truck being used outdoors, as that can interfere with tires and many other features.
In short, the data will reveal whether or not your fork truck fleet is being optimally used, and where there is room for improvement.
Employee safety is another common use case. If a tracked employee enters a certain area of the facility where staff usually aren’t supposed to be, the system can issue an alert.
Lastly, this information can also help manufacturers monitor their production lines: following raw materials from start to finish to see how well their process is flowing. The data can be integrated into a user’s existing ERP system to improve their perspective on every aspect of their facility.
INTEGRATING YOUR NEW RTLS DATA WITH YOUR EXISTING SYSTEMS CAN IMPROVE PROCESSES EVEN MORE!
One of the most powerful capabilities of applied IoT is being able to take historic data and run it through existing analytic interfaces like dashboards. Those dashboards may help to identify a facility’s busiest times per day, such as when most fork trucks are in use. Heat maps can then expose the most congested areas of traffic, so that plant managers can reroute the trucks and thus create a faster and more streamlined process for everybody.
The more information you plug in and the more items you tag to trace, the more information you will collect– not to mention the existing data from your machinery and software your facility likely already has. Layered together, this accurate and real-time information can open new opportunities and insights into process improvement.
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