What is RTLs?

Packages on pallet in a warehouse

RTLS stands for Real-time Location System and encompasses several automated identifications (auto-ID) technologies that use wireless signals to determine the precise location of tagged assets or personnel. RTLS systems include “active” transponder tags that transmit a long-range signal (up to thousands of meters with ISO / IEC 24730-2) at regular intervals, location sensors that receive and process tag signals, and a location appliance that collects and correlates the data. In contrast, “passive” radio frequency identification (RFID) systems have a very short range (up to twenty meters), and only read the tags when a reader is near.

Passive tagging only presents visibility for a small segment of time when the asset passes within range of a reader. As a result, tracking systems may miss a critical time window to capture location information essential for applications with a constantly changing state. Passive technologies like RFID and barcodes are optimal solutions for a wide range of structured traceability applications where range and short time windows are not critical.

How Does Rtls Work?

Anything being tracked by a RTLS has a tag affixed to it which can be located by the infrastructure of the system. An alternate implementation can leverage devices that are location aware (i.e. can determine their own location) and can report their location to the infrastructure (e.g. cell phone for GPS tracking).

The tag or location aware device stores the unique identity and sometimes additional information (e.g. current and fast location, users of the object, product origin, physical conditions, maintenance records, compliance etc.) about the object on which it is attached or representing.

The information stored on these devices along with real time positioning of the object is then communicated back to an associated business system. A typical topology provides real time visibility, normally via a map or (graphical user interface), as well as associated real time planning, execution and reporting functions.

The data may also be integrated into a wider ERP (Enterprise resource planning) solution by providing updates to key business processes such as warehouse management, production planning/scheduling, transportation planning and other related applications.

Example RTLs hub and sensor set up

An active solution is made up of three primary layers, The first is the physical layer which comprises the tags and the receivers. These tangible components feed data into the next, or base business process layer. This is a software application within the broad ERP system that will do one or multiple functions such as providing location information on assets, or possibly managing material flows within a production environment.

The third and final layer is that the business process analysis. This stems from the intelligence that is gathered from the previous business process layer. Essentially organizations are discovering that by using the data that is extracted from location solutions platform they are able to make more informed decisions and take actions enabling them to better optimize their business.

What Is an Rtls Sensor?

RTLS Sensors (I.E Data loggers) are used to monitor the physical environment of an object.  Location sensors receive and process tag signals and common sensors include temperature and humidity.

What Is the Difference Between Rtls and Gps?

While Global Positioning Systems (GPS) offer some RTLS capabilities, GPS signals cannot penetrate most construction materials, leaving indoor facilities inaccessible.

Furthermore, GPS receivers are highly complex, costly, and require significantly more power than RTLS tags, and lack fine-grained accuracy. Ultra-wideband (UWB) RTLS tags have accuracy greater than one foot, and consume minimal power.

Depending on the RTLS application, tags contain a battery life of up to seven years. RTLS tags can attach to forklifts, containers, hospital and test equipment, trailers and containers, and personnel identification cards. RTLS tags feature programable transmit rates, and support a configurable “blink” rate that sends out identification and telemetry data at fixed intervals.

Once activated, the tag transmits a signal to identify its precise location. Location sensors allow flexible placement in and around a facility, a shipping yard, on light poles, or corners of outdoor buildings. The combination of location data from the RTLS system and the telemetry data enables a nearly unlimited set of applications.

What Are the Benefits of Rtls?

Using RTLS technology gives specialized teams complete visibility of the physical location and current status of equipment.

RTLS eliminates the need to spend considerable manpower searching for equipment. Instead, the technology enables teams to move ahead with usage or maintenance, and make informed decisions. By automating the tracking of flight line equipment, you reduce the manpower required to maintain and update status, lower equipment costs and improve mission effectiveness.

RTLS immediately enhances all aspects of your operations from improving team efficiency to shortening maintenance downtime to preventing property loss. Equipment Location Visibility Zebra Technologies solution allows you to always know the location and status of flight line equipment without the typical manual searching. Radio frequency (RFID) technology all but eliminates the need for onsite and manual checking. Instead, you can view the location and status of an asset on screen.

With RTLS, you keep team members on valuable tasks, allowing them to focus on core activities thus increasing your operational efficiency. Additionally, teams can respond more rapidly to user requests, expedite maintenance and reduce missing items.

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