Forklift and pallet tracking at warehouses using indoor positioning
Tracking asset movement and availability is an important part of any warehouse performance. Constant forklift and pallet tracking can increase the company’s profit, reduce maintenance costs, increase staff safety, thus, more and more companies try to implement indoor positioning systems into their business. The forklift and pallet tracking technology allows using the warehouse vehicles more effectively and reacting timely to any emergencies.
Technologies for tracking forklifts and pallets
Various technologies are applied for monitoring equipment and warehouse assets. The most common ones are RFID, Bluetooth, and UWB.
RFID is a wireless communication system that identifies objects using radio waves. The technology is based on special tags (transponders) that are placed on forklifts, containers, or pallets and defined by the reader. The distinctive feature of the technology is the possibility to track assets in a short-range (as a rule, up to 1 m) – thus, the RFID pallet tracking system becomes an optimal solution in warehouse management.
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The operating principle of the given tool is based on unique tags that can be transmitted to the RFID reader. The main advantages of the technology are its affordable cost of tags and ease of servicing. As a rule, passive battery-free tags that do not require recharging are used for forklift monitoring systems.
If necessary, the possibilities of RFID can be expanded by installing detectors. Placing such devices on forklifts makes it possible to track them using the centralized management system.
Bluetooth, with its low energy consumption, is one of the most popular technologies for logistics and warehouse management. In comparison with classical Bluetooth, the system keeps a similar range of communication but is intended for low-power devices. As in the case of RFID, special tags, placed on objects and detected by receivers, are used for identifying pallets or forklifts. The location accuracy is about 8 m and the maximum range is up to 75 m.
The BLE operating principle is quite simple – the tags, installed around the perimeter of the building, send signals at certain intervals. As soon as the forklift enters the tag zone, the tags define its location and send data to the reader. The BLE peculiarity is the possibility of forklift tracking using a smartphone via a mobile application. The main advantages of the system include:
- low installation costs;
- the long service life of the tag battery (on average from 2 to 8 years);
- simple and flexible implementation into the warehouse infrastructure;
- energy efficiency.
UWB is a popular indoor positioning technology functioning due to an ultra-wide bandwidth. It is mainly used when high accuracy positioning in warehouses is required. While using UWB, the accuracy is less than 30 сm, which is significantly higher than with beacons. The identification is carried out by sending short impulses that can be single or in the form of millions of low-power signals.
In comparison with BLE, installing UWB tags requires higher costs so the system is usually applied when only a few assets are necessary to track. The forklift monitoring system makes it possible to define the location of forklifts, get information on their movement, and direct them in conditions of poor visibility. Moreover, the technology analyzes the distance traveled, which allows optimizing the routes around the warehouse.
Advantages of pallet tracking systems
The modern forklift tracking system ensures a wide range of advantages for companies:
- increasing warehouse performance efficiency;
- improving operation management;
- reducing company’s expenses on technical maintenance;
- increasing inventory accuracy;
- route optimization (reducing the number of vehicles in use and decreasing the necessary workforce);
- reducing the distance traveled by a forklift for its more effective management;
- control of potentially dangerous situations and a possibility to avoid collisions with other forklifts.
Navigine develops indoor navigation systems and offers forklift or pallet tracking solutions. We are ready to provide precise positioning tools that will increase business process efficiency in your company.