RTLS 101 What It Is and Why You Need It

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1 RTLS 101 What It Is and Why You Need It

2 RTLS 101 WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT In business, knowledge is power, and with it comes efficiency, productivity, safety, and profits. Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS) provide this knowledge by delivering precise visibility of critical assets supply chain, manufacturing, and human, in real-time. For transportation and logistics enterprises, this knowledge means having end-to-end visibility and traceability of all containers, pallets, and packages. For manufacturers, it enables intelligent management and flow of all critical assets, whether in the facility or at a sprawling storage yard. In security and safety operations, it means controlling employee access, and ensuring they do not linger in hazardous areas beyond safety requirements. WHAT IS RTLS? RTLS encompasses several automated identification (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 ) at regular intervals, location sensors that receive and process tag signals, and a location appliance that collects and correlates the data. critical time window to capture location information essential for applications with a constantly changing state. Passive technologies like RFID and bar codes are optimal solutions for a wide range of structured traceability applications where range and short time windows are not critical. 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 A Zebra Technologies White Paper 2

3 GPS VS. RTLS 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. Ultrawideband (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 programmable 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. WHY YOU NEED RTLS SIMPLIFY ASSET MANAGEMENT Controlling hundreds or thousands of assets throughout large indoor and outdoor production environments is a daunting challenge. RTLS allows operations to find assets in seconds, as opposed to taking hours using a manual process. Beyond the ability to locate a sub-assembly or final product on demand, operations can use the tracking data to optimize processes, workflow cycle time, and dwell time. Reduce Search Time for Misplaced Assets RTLS allows users to view the precise location of assets and eliminate time-consuming manual searches and audits. Location data integrates into existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, allowing enterprises to realize more value from their IT infrastructure. Reduce Equipment Movement Real-time enterprise visibility minimizes the need for equipment relocation. Instead of moving equipment to central locations, assets can be stored closer to the point of use, which increases production velocity. Improve Audits and Recover Lost Property With real-time, online auditing of assets, workers can locate equipment quickly. If equipment leaves a defined area, RTLS automatically triggers an alert. A Zebra Technologies White Paper 3

4 STREAMLINE SUPPLY CHAIN AND LOGISTICS Throughout logistics operations, workers can use location sensors to scan the product or container s RTLS tags and verify shipment authorization. The shipping system provides another key RTLS integration point, which includes rail management, haul away, and electronic data interchange (EDI) for complete distribution and logistics visibility. Inventory and Warehouse Management Automate inventory control, pick and put-away location, shipping lane verification, and data entry tasks, while providing opportunities for faster time-to-delivery and elevated customer service. Inbound and Outbound Logistics Track the most demanding, variable warehouse and operations assets as they move throughout a facility, yard, or industrial complex. The result is higher efficiency of physical storage areas and equipment, and faster process speed and execution. Transportation Management Plan and control inbound and outbound truck, car,rail, and vessel movement with constraint validation, sequencing tools and stowage validation. Fully integrate gate to yard to vessel operations to increase responsiveness throughout port and terminal operations. IMPROVE ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING Businesses require actionable information, visibility, and accuracy to measure and predict operational performance across the value chain. RTLS provides precise location information in real time to ERP and other process management systems. Users can add RTLS and workflow rules based on their unique needs and collect metrics for analyzing processes, and identify areas that miss key performance objectives. Capture Disparate Data ERP systems integrated with middleware that read any set of auto-id technologies (RTLS, bar code, RFID, etc.), can quickly capture events, filter, and map disparate data. The ERP system can intelligently process the real-time information so you can make proactive business decisions. Improve Cycle Time Track items and personnel, in detail, as they move through zones and processes. Managers and process engineers gain access to actionable information required for driving efficiency, such as reducing inventory cycle time to minutes vs. hours, days, or weeks. Create Return on Investment Opportunities Timely knowledge of asset movements helps expedite tasks and transactions, enabling accurate forecasting and improving asset value while reducing the order-to-cash cycle. A Zebra Technologies White Paper 4

5 IMPROVE SAFETY AND SECURITY Traditional personnel tracking methods rely on passive RFID and GPS, which suffer from RF interference, short range, and slow data rates. Slow transmit rates mean that a person could walk through a large area and the tracking system would miss key information, possibly causing safety or security issues. RTLS enables low latency alarms, essential when operational requirements mandate a need to know where all personnel are located at all times, and how long they were there. Reduce Accidents Precise accuracy allows businesses to create permanent and temporary geo-fences and reduce safety issues resulting from people moving into unsafe or unauthorized zones. Improve Responsiveness Automatically locate life-saving and mission critical equipment in seconds, as opposed to manual searches. Table 1 Comparison of Track and Trace Technologies Boost Security Active RTLS identification tags allow security departments to better manage employee and visitor access. Type Range Accuracy Data Rate Applications Bar Code Line of Sight N/A N/A Passive RFID Up to 30 feet N/A N/A Wi-Fi ISO/IEC Up to 300 feet 1750 meters (5700 feet) 1 meter (10 feet) UWB 200 meters (650 feet) 30 cm (1 foot) 3,500 1 Hz tags/seconds throughput Long Range, Accuracy, and Low Power () Deep traceability () RTLS RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS Whether tracking containers through a supply chain, optimizing manufacturing processes, or providing wide-area asset traceability, RTLS provide actionable and constant value. RTLS extends asset visibility out to 1,750 meters (5,700 feet) far beyond the abilities of passive RFID. RTLS communicates the physical location of assets by zone, yard slot, and/or intelligent interactive graphical mapping along with historical visibility into the asset s location, with accuracy of within a few feet. The optimal RTLS platform integrates hardware and software with existing BI and ERP solutions to help enterprises align their strategies cross-functionally. When coupled with passive RFID and bar code systems, RTLS allows your business to stand above the competition by precisely tracking, locating, and managing critical assets across the value chain. A global leader respected for innovation and reliability, Zebra offers technologies that illuminate organizations operational events involving their assets, people and transactions, allowing them to see opportunities to create new value. We call it the Visible Value Chain. Zebra s extensive portfolio of marking and printing technologies, including barcode, RFID, GPS and sensoring, turns the physical into the digital to give operational events a virtual voice. This enables organizations to know in real-time the location, condition, timing and accuracy of the events occurring throughout their value chain. Once the events are seen, organizations can create new value from what is already there. For more information about Zebra s solutions, visit A Zebra Technologies White Paper 4

6 Corporate Headquarters Asia-Pacific Headquarters EMEA Headquarters +44 (0) Latin America Headquarters Other Locations / USA: California, Georgia, Illinois, Rhode Island, Texas, Wisconsin Europe: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom Asia Pacific: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Florida (LA Headquarters in USA), Mexico Africa/Middle East: Dubai, South Africa 2013 ZIH Corp. All product names and numbers are Zebra trademarks, and Zebra and the Zebra head graphic are registered trademarks of ZIH Corp. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. P (08/13)

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