With growing business grows the number of assets, so does the need to improve your asset management and tracking practices. Asset tracking is a technology that provides solutions to track the location and status of physical assets. Locating lost physical assets, tracking the asset lifecycle for replacement or maintenance, and enhancing overall asset control efficiency are some of the important use cases behind the skyrocketing popularity and adoption of the technology across various business verticals and organizations worldwide.
The infrastructure set up for asset tracking is called Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS). RTLS contains hardware and digital setups for Indoor and outdoor tracking. Development of more robust and innovative solutions by RTLS leaders will bring substantial growth in the market, create new use cases and offer reliability to customers.
Real-Time Location Systems have majorly three components.
Transmitters: An RTLS transmitter attaches to an asset and sends identification and location data to receivers over a wireless signal. Transmitters are also called tags, transponders, or badges, depending on their form factor.
Receivers: It receives signals from tagged assets or transmitters and identifies their location. Depending on the wireless standard used, they can determine location by the tag’s proximity.
Management portal: The RTLS receivers send the location data to a central management system. The Management portal will use the tracking data for the analysis.
It refers to knowing the location of a physical asset.
Real-Time Location System (RTLS):
It is a subset of asset tracking systems where the location of the asset is always known.
Available RTLS technologies
There are quite a few RTLS technologies available, namely UWB, IR, GPS, RFID, BLE, etc. Each of these technologies varies in function, price, accuracy, advantages & disadvantages and can be chosen based on the user needs/use case. Here we have listed some of the most popular ones:
- RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification)
- Bluetooth / BLE Beacons
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID asset tracking is a radio-frequency technology for wireless communication that can be used to detect and track the location of physical assets. It works by loading an RFID tag with data and attaching it to a relevant asset.
Wi-Fi asset tracking is a radio-frequency technology for wireless communication that can be used to detect and track the location of physical assets. It works by loading a WiFi tag with data and attaching it to relevant assets.
BLE beacons are asset tracking technology for wireless communication that can be used to detect and track the location of assets. In many instances, BLE Beacons are used for asset tracking and indoor positioning, beacons can communicate with receivers and users through Bluetooth. The system uses BLE beacons to measure the beacon’s Random Signal Strength Indicator values with respect to the receiver. The distance between the beacon and receiver can be calculated using the RSSI value.
Comparison of RTLS technologies:
Below table outlines the difference between these technologies
Overall, BLE is a perfect compromise between range, power consumption, security, accuracy, deployment, and costs.
BLE-Based RTLS Components for Asset Tracking:
A BLE-Based RTLS has three components. BLE tags, BLE readers, and tracking platform.
These BLE beacons are battery-powered hardware transmitters that are used to transmit a small amount of data in a short range, consuming much less power.
The BLE beacons send a small amount of data at regular intervals.
Like Wi-Fi and RFID readers, the BLE reader also receives data from BLE tags or beacons and reports the location of assets to the tracking platform to display the same statistics on the user’s end.
The tracking platform receives data from the BLE readers which can be displayed on the user’s end. It is used to analyze the receiver’s data for asset tracking.
- Low power consumption
- Relatively inexpensive devices
- Easily integrated with other technologies and cloud services
- Real-time updates
- Wide standardization
- Cross-functionality with common consumer devices
- Requires a high density of transmitters
BLE was introduced in 2010 as a Bluetooth 4.0 version. Since it has been updated to Bluetooth 5, BLE is the most widely used technology for indoor positioning applications such as asset tracking. The BLE system usually works by establishing its own wireless network by combining Beacon and Hub devices. Bluetooth-enabled devices can easily use the BLE solution. Since it is easily usable by Bluetooth-enabled devices, BLE makes a particularly common technology for location and tracking applications. Indoor environments such as malls, hospitals, and airports also use BLE widely to gather location data.
As compared to WiFi and RFID, BLE systems have many advantages like being cost-effective, low power consumption, and don’t require manual scanning. Most BLE system architectures use RSSI value to determine proximal asset locations as attached asset moves. BLE also makes use of Angle of Arrival (AoA) and Angle of Departure (AoD) to calculate location data.
Got any use case on your mind? Discuss with our experts and explore the potential benefits of RTLS technologies in your organization.