What is RTLS?
RTLS (Real time location system) – system for determining the current location of objects in a given space in real time. Using RTLS, you can not only quickly determine the location, but also see the trajectory of moving the object on the map, monitor its state (being in a certain zone), and also store the history of its movements.
Types of systems
The coordinates of the location are determined using a label that is attached to each observed object. Depending on what type of signal these tags are sent, you can implement different types of RTLS systems:
- acoustic (ultrasound),
- electromagnetic (IR-radiation),
- UWB (radio frequency, broadband),
- Narrowband (radio frequency, narrowband signal),
- Wi-Fi (RSSI),
- Wi-Fi (ToA).
The RTLS system is characterized by great flexibility and wide capabilities, it can be adapted to almost any task in the shortest possible time and with minimal investment. The choice of specific RTLS technology directly depends on the purposes and conditions.
Wi-Fi RTLS positioning
To determine the location of objects, the Wi-Fi RTLS system uses a wireless Wi-Fi network and algorithms for measuring the difference in signals that generate tags. Tags are attached to various objects, they can also be worn by people. Depending on the tasks, the labels can additionally be equipped with an alarm button, a temperature sensor, etc. Each label is equipped with a battery whose life time is 5-7 years.
Being in the field of a wireless Wi-Fi network, the tags transmit the signal with a predefined time interval (from 1 second to several days). As a Wi-Fi reader, RTLS uses wireless access points. Gateways transmit data (object coordinates) to a positioning server using IT infrastructure, and special software provides visualization.
Terms of implementation
For high accuracy of positioning, it is necessary that the Wi-Fi network has a good coverage density and sufficient signal power level where it is planned to deploy the system. Wi-Fi access points usually have a range of 30-200 meters. Based on this, the positioning accuracy is determined. In ideal conditions – it’s 1-3 meters, in real – 5-10 meters.
Experts suggest that in the future RTLS technology will be more in demand than RFID due to significant cost savings on equipment due to the already deployed Wi-Fi network. Certainly, in some cases it may be necessary to install additional access points for a greater coverage density. In general, the cost of implementing RTLS is significantly lower than RFID, where expensive readers are required.
Components of the standard Wi-Fi RTLS system
Tags, Wi-Fi points (anchors), gateways, positioning server, application software
The architecture of the standard Wi-Fi RTLS system
Wi-Fi RTLS RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indication)
Wi-Fi RTLS RSSI system provides positioning of the object in real time mode, based on the method of indicating the level of the received signal.
Such systems have a positioning accuracy of 5-10 meters, this accuracy decreases with the deployment of systems in open areas.
Wi-Fi RTLS ToA (Time Of Arrival)
To determine the exact location, the Wi-Fi RTLS ToA system uses the time-of-arrival difference method.
For this technology, the positioning accuracy is one meter in 80% of cases in direct visibility. This method is most effective in open areas or in large industrial premises, because it is vulnerable to multi-path attenuation (when signals are reflected and interference), as well as in the case of dynamic objects that often change the direction of movement with a high speed of movement.
Industry application of the RTLS system
Each production enterprise consists, as a rule, of several zones: production, warehouse, office. For effective operation of the enterprise, it is necessary to organize correctly in all these zones processes of control over the work of personnel and the use of equipment, as well as accounting for other material resources.
The implementation of RTLS localization (positioning) system will allow to monitor the movement of personnel in real time, to perform a quick search for the location of one employee or group of people, to reveal the facts of misuse of working time (smoking, idle waking, sleep), location of equipment and transport that will increase productivity and prevent downtime and disruptions in production.
Navigation inside the production premises, determining the length of the routes, integration with the video surveillance system will help to react promptly in case of emergency, to qualitatively investigate the incidents in the production.
The system of localization of objects in real time RTLS has the widest application in the field of public health (hospital, clinic, laboratory, medical center), as it is capable of effectively solving the following tasks:
- monitoring the movement of the patient, the possibility of using the “alarm button,”
- Temperature control in rooms, closed boxes, refrigerators where vaccines are stored, honey. analyzes, perishable materials,
- quick search for medical staff,
- monitoring of equipment location,
- inventory management and control of consumables and (medical tools and drugs),
- control access to medicines,
- Automating the tracking of analyzes in medical laboratories,
- restrict access to special zones (for example, procedural, operational),
- improving the level of safety for patients and staff,
- improving the quality of care and patient care (monitoring the hygiene of the hands of personnel).
The RTLS logistics location system (logistics companies, logistics centers and complexes, wholesale trade, warehouses) is able to optimize and control a variety of business processes by solving the following tasks:
- monitoring the movement of vehicles and vehicles across the territory,
- building the optimal travel routes,
- control over the movement and storage of goods, quick search for cargo (container),
- monitoring the movement of personnel, quick search for employees, monitoring the misuse of working time,
- integration with a video surveillance system for operational investigation of incidents
The RTLS real-time positioning system is especially relevant in the hotel industry, where control over the provision and quality of services is a key success factor. The hotels have a huge range of fixed assets and goods and materials used by personnel (mobile devices, cleaning equipment), and for servicing guests (interior items in the rooms (paintings, vases), appliances (television and radio receivers, watches and t . d)). Naturally, without proper accounting and control over the availability, condition and movement of the above items, the hotel will constantly incur significant losses.
Using the RTLS system, you can also instantly locate the employee or the necessary equipment, and the archive of the transportation routes will help to monitor the work of the personnel (for example, cleaning the rooms), promptly disassemble the cases of theft, illegal activities by both staff and lodgers.
Retailers are forced to constantly look for new ways to attract buyers. At the same time, the marketing budget is traditionally limited. And then new wireless technologies come to the aid of retail, namely RTLS localization system in real time.
The main problems of retail chains (supermarkets, stores), which RTLS solves with labels, equipped with a variety of sensors:
- temperature control in the premises where the products are stored and sold (refrigerated chambers, shopping malls), notification of responsible persons in case of violation of the temperature regime,
- accounting for trucks will reduce the percentage of theft of trucks, which in large networks is up to 15% per year,
- visualization of the route of movement of customers (study of the route of movement of bogies through the trading hall, stopping time at trade stands – all this is valuable information for marketing, which will allow developing effective loyalty programs or promotional offers to increase customer satisfaction and sales in general), < / li>
- navigation through the trading floor (helping customers find the necessary product),
- Improving security and prompt response to emergency situations (the employee can use the “alarm button”, which is equipped with a tag if necessary, and the security service will immediately determine the exact location of the employee, and integration with the video surveillance system will allow visualizing what is happening)
- control over the equipment of the store (loading and unloading equipment, special containers, office equipment …).
Museums, galleries, exhibitions need an increased level of security, since the objects placed in their halls have not only artistic, historical, but, as a rule, considerable material value. And this, of course, attracts intruders.
The positioning system of RTLS objects will allow real-time monitoring of the presence and condition of objects, from large paintings to small figurines. Each item will be tagged with a sensor that responds to changes, for example, weight (for example, if there is an attempt to cut a picture from the frame), moving even a few centimeters. In each of these cases, an alarm will work, as well as the employees themselves can call the guard using the “alarm button”, which is equipped with tags on the uniform of the personnel. In addition, it is possible to check the work of personnel, having studied the recording of the routes of their movement through the halls.
To improve the satisfaction of visitors, there are RTLS solutions for transferring data to mobile devices. For example, information about a particular exhibit of the museum is transmitted to the visitor’s mobile device, depending on the location of the visitor at a particular moment in time.
For control and situational centers, the key is to monitor the work of personnel and access to certain areas. The real-time location system RTLS will allow you to analyze the route of personnel movement, control access to the zone authorized for this employee, notify the security post in case of such violations, and monitor the work of each employee, and in the case of his inactivity and absence for a specified time (for example, the attendant is simply asleep or has been absent for too long at the workplace) to notify the responsible persons.
The RTLS (Real-time location system) system is simply indispensable in mines, where the life and health of personnel are at increased risk. The tags attached to the clothes allow you to accurately determine in real time the location of the miner, analyze the time of his stay at one or another point, the readers at the entrances to the tunnel will inform about the number of people and the time of their stay there. In addition, there are already successfully implemented RTLS solutions, in which the protected surface of the miner’s lantern is equipped with additional marks for the unilateral transmission of text messages (instructions) to each particular employee in the event of an emergency.