Img Source - Twinkle_sawlani
Selecting the right Real-time locating system (RTLS) solution is critical for companies looking to streamline operations and increase efficiency. There are many technologies available on the market that differ in purpose, object tracking accuracy, deployment environment, and other parameters. With so much variety, it can be difficult to determine which RTLS solution is best for your business. In this article, we will look at the main selection criteria and provide recommendations that will help you choose the right options.
What is an RTLS and how does it work?
RTLS is an automated positioning system that allows you to identify objects and determine their location in real time. It’s widely used indoors and helps track assets, equipment, employees, and customers. All tracked objects are displayed on digital maps. The system is flexible in use and can easily be adapted to the needs of a specific company.
The system is based on portable or stationary equipment (such as tags and beacons), which sends radio signals at certain intervals. Special readers then capture these radio signals and send them to a server, where they are processed and the location is determined. Next, the finished information is sent to the user’s smartphone or computer, indicating the precise location of the object on the digital map.
RTLS-based solutions can be successfully used for various purposes. Their key features include the following:
- monitoring the movement of equipment and vehicles in real time;
- searching and locating objects on the map;
- tracking the movement of employees, controlling entry into restricted areas;
- visitor navigation and building routes to points of interest;
- collecting analytics to optimize work processes.
As of 2023, the total global asset tracking market is worth US$20.37 billion. It’s projected to grow at a CAGR of 13.91% over the next 5 years, reaching US$38.05 billion by the end of 2028. A similar situation is observed in the RTLS market. According to industry experts, its average annual growth over the same period should be 25.5%, and the total share will increase from US$5.2 billion to US$16.2 billion.
The rapid growth of the market is attributed to the fact that more and more companies are introducing Internet of Things (IoT) technologies into their work, which helps reduce costs and optimize business processes.
How to choose the right RTLS
Choosing the right RTLS solutions always depends on several parameters that allow you to tailor options to suit the needs of your specific business. Below we will explore these factors in more detail.
One of the most important criteria for choosing an RTLS solution is the industry. Many tracking system providers list suitable industries on their websites, but if you don't find any, it's worth double-checking. Find out if a particular RTLS works in your market and if it can meet all your needs.
Object tracking accuracy
Accuracy plays a big role in object tracking but largely depends on the specific application area. Some industries, such as manufacturing and healthcare, require location systems to be as accurate as possible, while other industries may have more flexibility. If your business requires high tracking accuracy, it's worth considering technologies like Bluetooth® LE or UWB.
Number of objects to track
It’s crucial to decide how many objects the system will need to track. Many technologies require increasing the density of sensors or base stations to improve monitoring accuracy. When choosing, even minuscule details matter. For example, the Bluetooth® LE protocol is suitable for searching for assets or detecting objects at short distances. If the task is to track objects at long distances, you can use options with a wider range.
With the addition of new wireless technology, the load on the existing IT network increases. To avoid problems associated with congestion, it’s better to use a dedicated infrastructure for real-time location solutions. This way, you can not only ensure the functionality of the system but also increase cybersecurity and reduce the risk of hacking. This is especially true in healthcare, where protecting patient data is incredibly important to the healthcare facility.
System selection should always be based on the hardware deployment environment. Before implementing the technology, the following factors need to be assessed:
- humidity, room temperature;
- types of monitored objects and conditions of their operation;
- method of storing assets;
- storage requirements (for example, only storing horizontally or vertically).
Additionally, when installing sensors, you should take into account the density of static objects and the height of ceilings, so that in the future there will be no interference when sending signals. If the system is being implemented in factories with harsh operating conditions, you should look into installing equipment with a high level of protection from moisture and dust.
Technologies RTLS solutions use many different technologies. The most popular ones are Bluetooth® LE, UWB, Wi-Fi, etc., which differ in accuracy, principle of operation, and equipment used. To compare these protocols and choose the most suitable option, check out the table below.
Be sure to consider system scalability when choosing the right technology. Before implementing RTLS, you should first evaluate whether it can accommodate the number of objects you need to track and provide the required tracking efficiency. For example, Wi-Fi often depends on the number of access points on the territory, while RFID can process several tags simultaneously. If you intend to expand your business, you should choose a system that can be scaled quickly and easily.
When choosing a technology, always consider your budget. General expenses can include many items, such as:
- equipment and software;
- installing tags and beacons;
- follow-up service fee;
- energy consumption, replacing sensor batteries;
- development and technical support.
Some of the costs may depend on scalability. If you plan to expand your infrastructure in the future, you should be aware of the costs of introducing additional equipment in advance. Additionally, you need to consider that sensors for different technologies may have different prices. UWB tags are the most expensive, but this option also provides the highest accuracy.
Navigine is ready to assist you in selecting the right real-time location solutions. We offer an efficient digital tracking platform, Navigine Tracking, that offers precise indoor object tracking. To help you understand how our system works, we provide a demo version on the page here: https://navigine.com/demo-rtls/.
To sum up, RTLS is a promising and effective solution that is being adopted by an increasing number of businesses worldwide. With it, you can easily identify the location of any object and provide around-the-clock real-time monitoring. If you want to implement this system into your company's infrastructure, contact us at Navigine. You can learn more on the digital tracking platform by filling out the feedback form or booking an online demo with us.