What Is a Real Time Location System?

Wi-Fi access points on industrial site.
June 5th, 2020 / Updated: June 26th, 2020 / Worker Safety, Wireless Networking Asset Tracking, Condition Monitoring,

A Real Time Location System (RTLS) monitors the location and status information of personnel and assets in real time, providing the latest business intelligence to inform everything from crisis decision-making to route planning and work schedules. It can often also integrate with existing solutions, such as access control and PAGA systems, as part of a site-wide IIoT connectivity program.

An RTLS typically consists of wireless RTLS tags attached to objects or worn by people, and a fixed reference point that receives wireless signals from tags to determine their location.

There are several key technologies that may be used to create an RTLS.

Different RTLS Technology

Active RFID

An active RFID RTLS uses battery-powered tags that emit an ID signal at regular intervals. The signal is picked up by readers; depending on the radio frequency, this may be a dedicated RFID reader or a standard Wi-Fi access point. The signals are then interpreted, and the information provided in a software platform.

Active RFID tags typically transmit on a fixed frequency, though this can vary depending on their intended application.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi access points can be used to detect signals from an active RFID tag transmitting at 2.4 or 5GHz, but they can also be used to pick up on the presence of other Wi-Fi enabled devices. Using Wi-Fi as a framework can provide greater flexibility, as you may not be tied to a proprietary technology, and quicker ROI, as the wireless network can be leveraged for other applications, such as communications, as part of the Internet of Things and the move towards digitalising sites.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)

BLE is a wireless network technology with reduced power consumption compared to its predecessor, classic Bluetooth. BLE devices can be detected when in proximity to a BLE beacon or BLE gateway, similarly to an active RFID tag and reader.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

GPS is a satellite-based location system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. Obstacles like buildings may obstruct or reflect the GPS signals, reducing connectivity and accuracy. The GPS receiver does not need to transmit any data and it operates independently of any telephone or wireless signal, but if the GPS data is to be used in an RTLS then either cellular or Wi-Fi signal is needed for backhaul.

Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)

UWB is a radio technology that uses a low energy level to transmit high bandwidth communications for a short distance over a wide range of the radio frequency spectrum. UWB is well-suited to short-range indoor applications, such as “see-through-the-wall” radar imaging, sensor data collection, and precise location tracking.

Improving Worker Safety with RTLS

Extronics RTLS

Extronics RTLS solutions are based on standard Wi-Fi networks, therefore, eliminating the need for proprietary networks. Customers can leverage the same Wi-Fi network for other applications, such as data transfer or communications – consequently, resulting in greater ROI.

If this is something that you think can be tailored to your organisation, please contact our team of experts today to discuss your use case. Contact us using the form below, email info@extronics.com, or call +44 845 277 5000

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