Track: RTLS & Asset Tracking

You will consider an RTLS, if your goal is to :

  • locate specific assets or people

  • without any latency, i.e. in real-time

  • and have the data used for display on a screen or fed into a decision system

  • in order to save time finding the assets, whether for productivity, safety or customer satisfaction reasons.

Asset type

If you want to track people, then smartphones may be a good solution. That is, if the individuals already have one and are willing to install an application that can geolocate them, usually in exchange for a valuable service. In fact, modern smartphones have all the sensors and processing power that are required to provide accurate and real-time positioning with limited required additional infrastructure, BLE beacons.

If you want to track assets, you will need tags attached to them. As you want real-time, the tag will be active, i.e. connected to a power source, either a battery or an external source. We’re not talking barcodes or passive RFID tags here, but small devices a few centimeters wide and a few millimeters thin.

Number of assets & Surface

A key aspect to consider for your tracking solution, is the number of assets you want to track, as there are different architecture options which Ubudu proposes and because the tag price varies substantially from one to another. Typically, you would prefer a stripped down tag for a high volume of assets (say 10,000s), down to a few dollars, even if that means to make the network infrastructure a bit “smarter”. Vice-versa for tracking a lower number of high-value assets (say 100s) where you would be ready to invest more into “smart” tags, while minimising the infrastructure cost.

The larger the surface, the higher the number of infrastructure components required, and the more important it becomes to optimise the unit cost and maintenance. Battery-based infrastructure always requires maintenance, even if the autonomy can be in years (depending on technology). Cabled infrastructure does not, but instead requires a one-off investment to perform the installation.

Accuracy

Ubudu provides geolocation systems with down to centimeter-level accuracy. This can be useful for applications in hazardous environments, such as chemical or power plants. However, for many use cases meter-level accuracy will be sufficient.

It is important to define the accuracy expected, during the conception phase of your project, as it will have an impact on the required infrastructure and choice of technology.

Also, besides the accuracy, you would want to optimise the location precision, i.e. get the most predictable result over time. 1m accuracy may not be sufficient, once the “dot” is 1m to the right and the following time it is 1m to the left.

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