The combination of Wi-Fi-enabled RFID tags and a web-based viewing platform that consolidates data from across the supply chain can facilitate cost-effective Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS) that deliver end-to-end supply chain visibility.
Technologies such as conventional passive RFID and the use of mobile computing devices like RF and Voice terminals can provide a degree of visibility, but they only provide real time data at the precise moment the transaction occurs.
AeroScout have developed Wi-Fi-enabled RFID tags that use existing Wi-Fi networks as the core for a host of visibility data and provide a cost-effective method of implementing RTLS. Wi-Fi-enabled Active RFID tags can also include sensors to detect events such as motion and temperature changes, extending their functionality. Dematic are AeroScout's Asia Pacific supply chain system integration partners.
Active RFID tags provide location accuracy to within a couple of metres. For applications requiring more accurate location details, down to less than one metre, AeroScout Exciters provide high configurable ‘choke point’ detection capabilities. Exciters trigger precise and immediate notification that a tag has passed a certain threshold, such as a doorway or a gate.
RTLS can track assets indoors, outdoors, or in a mix of indoor/outdoor environments. Radio signals perform differently indoors versus outdoors, so different location determination algorithms must be used.
Unified Asset Visibility (UAV) Software: Most businesses have complex needs that often require a combination of visibility methods for multiple uses. For example, Wi-Fi RFID is suitable for asset tracking across large enterprise facilities, while Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) provides high accuracy in small areas, and Passive RFID provides auto-identification of high-volume items, and then there are technologies like GPS and GPRS, which also have an important role to play in enabling supply chain visibility.
UAV developed by AeroScout consolidates data relating to the location, condition and status of mobile assets from multiple data sources into a single integrated solution, allowing users to view their supply chain in real time.
UAV takes real time data from a variety of sources including Wi-Fi networks, LANs and WANs, GPS equipped devices, GPRS, and emerging technologies such as UWB and choke points, and displays it all in real time on a standard web browser.
AeroScout MobileView software provides real time locating data based on both Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) and Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) methods, enabling accurate location monitoring in both indoor and outdoor environments.
Real Time Real Life Applications: In manufacturing, RTLS can be a valuable tool in helping to identify batches of stock to facilitate efficient handling and distribution. In the car industry, RTLS can be used to locate specific vehicles in massive car parks containing thousands of cars which all look the same.
Dematic are currently working on their first RTLS project involving the use of Wi-Fi-enabled RFID tags and UAV software for a customer in China. The customer operates a fleet of 230 forklifts and over 600 pallet trucks, and has more than 22,000 people on its 670,000sqm site. By knowing where its people and resources are located in real time, the customer will be able to significantly improve utilisation of its people and mobile equipment fleet. Dematic are also developing a pilot project in Victoria, Australia.