Img Source - Nimasha Perera
Since every minute of working time is crucial in factories, searching for equipment negatively affects productivity and reduces the efficiency of the production process. Many large companies also face equipment loss or downtime. To resolve these issues, modern manufacturing companies are increasingly using RTLS solutions. In this article, we will discuss what RTLS in manufacturing is and how businesses can benefit from it.
What is RTLS?
RTLS (Real-Time Location System) is a modern technology that allows you to determine the current location of people and assets with high accuracy.
Every year the RTLS technology is gaining more and more popularity. Statistics show that in 2022, the RTLS market was valued at $3.9 billion. According to forecasts, soon, the average annual growth rate is projected to be 26.5%, and the volumes will reach $12.7 billion by 2026.
The process is carried out through a combination of hardware and software. To implement it into the company's infrastructure, 3 components are usually used - tags (beacons), gateways/antennas, and servers. Tags are placed on the equipment that needs to be tracked, and readers receive signals from them and send them to the server for processing. After that, the user receives information on their smartphone with the exact location of the object in real time.
The implementation of RTLS for manufacturing can be done using various technologies. The most popular ones are:
The technology option is chosen according to the specific needs of the customer, the goals, and the planned budget.
7 Ways to Improve Manufacturing Efficiency with RTLS
The RTLS system opens up unlimited possibilities to improve manufacturing efficiency. With it, you can reduce equipment downtime, improve staff safety, prevent theft of assets, and optimize production processes.
Accurate indoor asset tracking
With RTLS for manufacturing, you can accurately determine the location of any object. Tags placed on vehicles and equipment allow staff to quickly find the right asset. For example, if an employee needs to find out the location of a forklift, they just need to open the digital map on their smartphone and find the vehicle.
RTLS allows you not only to quickly find assets but also to control their status. If any equipment requires maintenance or repair, the system sends a notification to the management. In addition, in the event of a sudden failure of equipment, it’s possible to find the nearest replacement and put it to use.
With the RTLS technology, you can track any asset, whether it be work tools, vehicles, materials, or parts. The location information is then used effectively to optimize production and manage inventory more efficiently.
Reduced equipment downtime
RTLS can be successfully applied to reduce equipment downtime, which is a crucial step for manufacturing efficiency improvement. If a fault occurs on a production line, it results in reduced productivity and lost profits. With RTLS, you can resolve these issues before they cause serious damage. The system allows you to monitor the condition of the equipment and quickly fix minor problems or carry out scheduled maintenance.
Improving staff safety
Dangerous working conditions characterize many manufacturing enterprises. In most cases, employee injuries occur for the following reasons:
- poor planning of work processes;
- incorrect equipment routes;
- collisions with vehicles.
RTLS for manufacturing improves staff safety. With its implementation, it’s possible to avoid collisions and quickly notify staff if a vehicle is approaching. The platform can also be used for emergency notifications. If an accident occurs, the system informs the staff about the need to leave the danger zone and provides information on the shortest evacuation routes.
An example of an asset tracking platform for manufacturing
Optimizing production processes
Since RTLS provides highly accurate tracking of assets and other objects, it can be used effectively to streamline workflows. The system allows you to easily identify problems in production and solve a wide range of tasks, such as:
- optimizing the layout of a workshop or plant (for example, if some equipment is used by several workers throughout the day, it can be installed closer to the workplace);
- improving the efficiency of a slow-running assembly line by diverting materials to other routes;
- optimizing equipment usage by reducing equipment downtime;
- optimizing production flows through improved coordination between employees;
- increasing the visibility of work in progress.
Thanks to constant monitoring, businesses can noticeably improve manufacturing efficiency. Every production stage can benefit from this. RTLS solutions increase productivity, reduce the time to find assets, and help reduce operating costs, which allows you to save on equipment operation and draw more profit.
Equipment theft prevention
With RTLS in manufacturing, theft of tools and equipment can be avoided. The tags that are installed on the equipment not only ensure real-time monitoring but also instantly send a notification if the asset in question leaves the territory. As soon as an object crosses the boundaries of a given zone, sound or light signals are immediately triggered, which makes it possible to warn of the theft in time. It’s also much easier to identify already stolen or lost equipment with the system.
Improved resource usage
Among the obvious benefits of RTLS is its ability to improve resource usage. With this system, you can control the movement of each person and track the movement of materials and equipment, which allows you to identify bottlenecks in the production process and quickly eliminate them.
If needed, the system is successfully used to control stocks. Thanks to this, the necessary parts and materials are always available, which helps avoid equipment downtime. The system makes operations more productive and reduces waste, which leads to significant savings in operating costs or labor.
Simplified decision-making with insights
With RTLS, you can get detailed analytics on business processes. The system provides a wide range of data based on real-time positioning. For example, the technology allows you to get the following information:
- history of equipment movements;
- vehicles in restricted areas;
- downtime of vehicles or production lines;
- fixing the operating time of a particular piece of equipment;
- identifying poorly performing assets, etc.
Detailed information about the operations helps management make informed decisions. With it, you can optimize work processes, perform production planning, and quickly solve the current problems of the company.
As a real example of RTLS in manufacturing, let's take a look at the case that Navigine implemented in a warehouse in collaboration with the manufacturer MOKOSmart.
Navigine developed a platform to track vehicles in real time specifically for the business. The project was implemented using Bluetooth® LE gateways, as well as wearable and stationary sensors from MOKO. The beacons were attached to forklifts, carts, and other equipment, as well as pallets, shelves, and wearables for staff. As a result, the warehouse efficiency quickly increased by 5%.
You can learn more about this use case here.
If you want to increase production efficiency and minimize equipment downtime, Navigine can help you implement RTLS into your company infrastructure. We will provide all the software tools you need, recommend suitable hardware, and help with software integration. Our representatives will answer all your questions and provide qualified technical support. You can also see how our real-time tracking system works!
To get more detailed advice and recommendations, contact our staff using the feedback form or book a free Zoom demo.