Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) are systems specifically designed to determine the location of a person or an item in real time. It is a broad type of technology applicable in different fields of asset management. However, its application differs with industries. The main purpose of an accurately designed RTLS is to track, locate, manage assets and real time personnel tracking. This offers companies the advantage of making informed decisions depending on the data collected from the system. Mostly, RTLS is applied in industries like mining and manufacturing but is very effective in healthcare settings. In this article, we will discuss the components of an RTLS system, application areas, and the technologies that utilize this system.
The Components of an RTLS System
The main function of an RTLS system is to manage and track assets as they move around an indoor facility. In this case, the RTLS server utilized can be termed as a GPS that provides the same location data in real time. It is also able to track the histories of assets and personnel. Even though the application of the RTLS vary, the software and hardware components are the same.
The work of a transmitter is to identify the item of the person. It receives signals from the receiver and responds with real time data. The work of the transmitter, also known as transponder, badge, or tag, is to send data through wireless signal about the location and identification of an item or person.
The receivers in the facility collect data from the tagged people or items about their location. They are able to track the position of an item using tag proximity or trilateration.
This is a management portal that receives data from the receivers. Computers and operators can then analyze the data received.
Application Areas of RTLS Systems
- Asset Tracking and Management
The RTLS is a vital system in tracking and managing assets in a company. Through wireless signals, the system is able to communicate with RFID readers in a company. The system has an access control system that permits the person to sign in or out of an asset.
- Access Control
In this application, the system allows a worker or visitor when passing through security checkpoints. It records the activities in the designated areas. Therefore, employees or visitors can carry RTLS badges that authorize them and offer real time data of their current location.
- Employee Tracking and Safety
RTLS is highly used in healthcare settings to monitor and track the location and safety of the workers and the patients. It is also applicable in high-security areas to monitor the health and safety of the personnel. The system can monitor workers in a dangerous environment, lone employees, or patients in hospitals. This helps to effectively attend to emergencies.
- Emergency Mobilization
Employees can wear RTLS badges with emergency mustering systems that monitor their location in case of an emergency evacuation. The company must have a mustering point where all personnel must assemble. The system then records the employees present to help know those at risk and their current location.
- Network Security
With a WPA in the system, it is possible to limit a Wi-Fi spread area from where the person using the Wi-Fi can connect. In short, it limits access depending on user location.
Which Technologies Utilize RTLS?
- Passive and Active RFID
When we talk of RFID, we are talking about both active and passive. RTLS is efficient in passive RFID when placed in an entrance or exit of a building. They receive the power when a person brings a tagged item close to the meter. The tags are small and cost less. Active RFID is similar to passive RFID although they are larger and a bit expensive.
Infrared radiation, when combined with RTLS is effective when you are in need or room located. If you want to identify the position of a certain asset in a room without looking for it manually, IR with RTLS can help identify where the asset is, and this is a low-cost choice for an enterprise. It can send and pick up signals from the tag on the asset and forward the data to a computer.
When combined with RTLS, Wi-Fi access points can also be used to provide real time location of devices. They work almost similarly with RFID, although they are limited by proximity.
The ultrasound waves, accompanied with RTLS can provide the exact location on a room level. The reason why it is limited to room level is that the solid walls block the waves.
From the details given above, you can see that RTLS is applicable in numerous fields. Whether you want room-level tracking or high-precision asset tracking and workplace safety, RTLS can provide the solutions you need. All you need is to understand the best way to combine it with other standards for effective solutions. It will provide data in real time of the location of your assets and personnel for improved safety and security.