The benefits of Asset Tracking in Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector

The manufacturing sector deals with the production of tangible goods through manual labor or the transformation of raw materials into finished products and includes a wide range of industries, including metallurgical, electronic, chemical, food, petroleum, plastic, textile, etc… .
The manufacturing sector is a very significant part of the global economy. However, international competition is changing the way this sector operates, requiring ever greater efficiency, flexibility and innovation. Competition is accentuated even more by continuous innovations in the technological field; in fact, companies that adopt new technologies enjoy a considerable competitive advantage. The companies that want to stay on the market must adapt and renew themselves through a digitization process, i.e. a process of adopting new digital technologies to improve production management, in order to increase efficiency, quality, flexibility and the ability to adapt to customer needs, and to reduce costs.

Industry 4.0

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about “Industry 4.0”, an expression used for the first time in 2011 at the Hannover fair in Germany. Industry 4.0 consists in the conception of an industrialization based on a technological mix of automation, digitization, connection and programming whose consequence is a total change of technological and cultural paradigms.
Specifically, the consequences of this direction taken on the industry at a global level involve an increased speed with which the products are finalized, a higher quality, less margins of error, and a different business method.
It is precisely in the context of Industry 4.0 that Asset Tracking takes its place. Asset Tracking is one of the many pieces of the technological mix mentioned above.
Asset Tracking (i.e. tracing goods and resources) is a feature made possible by the IoT (Internet of Things). In fact, the Internet of Things can be defined as the set of technologies that allow objects that would otherwise be "inanimate" to be brought into the digital world. For example, a simple box, thanks to the IoT, can start communicating its position (in this case we are talking about Asset Tracking), or its temperature or the humidity level inside or outside.

So what is Asset Tracking?

Asset Tracking is an intelligent automated system that locates and monitors the movements and usage status of a company's assets in real time. Tracking is guaranteed by the integration of hardware technologies (such as Bluetooth® LE beacons and antennas) and software (which employ solutions for the unique identification of the asset and the real-time acquisition of its position). This combination of hardware and software goes to structure real localization systems that take the name of RTLS, or Real-Time Locating System (which we talked about in one of our previous articles).
It is possible to trace different types of goods – vehicles, forklifts, raw materials, semi-finished products and pallets. In some specific cases, such as for example for safety reasons, it is also possible to track workers with wearable tags (such as bracelets, badge holders, etc...).
Asset Tracking, thanks to RTLS, thus makes possible to monitor and manage the movement and use of equipment, machines and tools within a manufacturing company. RTLS, in turn, allow the development of a Digital Twin, i.e. a virtual representation of a physical object or system, useful for testing and understanding how the systems we are monitoring behave in a virtual simulation space. In the case of Digital Twins based on RTLS, starting from the position, movement and status data of assets or people, it is possible to improve a series of processes: reduce movement times and optimize routes, increase worker safety, acquire visibility on internal processes, increase operational efficiency, increase punctuality and the level of transparency of services provided to customers.
Therefore, thanks to Asset Tracking, RTLS and Digital Twins, operators have at their fingertips a digital representation of the factory which allows them to have complete visibility and real-time control over the entire production process; workers will be able to easily find resources and raw materials, know the status of production and prioritize operations in line with order planning and scheduling.

The importance of Asset Tracking in manufacturing

Asset Tracking is a particularly useful tool in any sector, but even more useful in the manufacturing sector considering its complexity. Think of the long production cycles that characterize it, or the presence of thousands of materials, semi-finished products and other components that move within the industries. It is precisely in complex environments such as manufacturing companies that all the advantages that can be achieved with digitization clearly emerge.
In these complex contexts it is very easy for assets to be forgotten for long periods and it is then difficult to find them when needed; other times instead the assets are lost and never found again, and therefore will have to be repurchased; other times, again, they are not stored correctly, and in this case the risk is to look for them in vain for a long time.
These cases can lead to significant delays in production, operator hours wasted on manual search for assets, misalignment in planning and scheduling.
All this is very costly in terms of money, time and opportunities in a context in which companies see the costs for the purchase and maintenance of high-tech equipment increase, due to the energy crisis, and in a context where the lack of components drives the need to have ever greater control over assets. In addition, the boom in e-commerce has significantly increased the demand for fast delivery and the need to track assets has grown accordingly.
For all these reasons, Asset Tracking systems in the manufacturing sector are becoming increasingly indispensable. With the installation of a single RTLS platform, all the problems listed above can be avoided and many processes can be automated and speeded up.
Developing an Asset Tracking system means:
• be able to track assets of any size (from a tool to a forklift);
• monitor all stages of production;
• follow the orders in all their movements within the production site;
• automate inventory;
• develop pick-to-light functions;
• monitor periods of inactivity of machinery and tools.
All of this translates to:
• reduction of search times;
• reduction of errors and material losses;
• reduction of inventory times;
• optimization of the use of resources.
The relevance that Asset Tracking is acquiring is also demonstrated by a Expert Market Research study which highlights how this market is destined to grow at an average annual rate of 13.7% between now and 2027. In fact, the global Asset Tracking market will go from $16.9 billion recorded in 2021 to $36.51 billion in five years.

BlueUp RTLS solutions for Asset Tracking

The RTLS solutions for Asset Tracking offered by BlueUp are all based on the Bluetooth® LE standard or compatible wireless protocols.
BlueUp offers three different RTLS solutions that differ in performance, cost and installation complexity.

MeshCube is a unique solution on the market, with a completely wireless infrastructure based on a communication network in Wirepas Mesh 2.4GHz technology. With this technology all design, installation and wiring costs are reduced to almost zero, making it extremely economical and suitable for automatic inventory applications, asset tracking in the industrial and logistic fields, distributed monitoring via sensors.

LocateBLE allows the localization of assets and people in real time through algorithms based on RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) and trilateration. The rewarding feature of LocateBLE is its independence from hardware: the platform, in fact, is designed to be compatible with multiple types of Bluetooth® LE antennas on the market: Bluetooth® LE beacon gateway, WiFi access point with Bluetooth® LE interface, Zigbee or mesh modules with support Bluetooth® LE extension. This flexibility makes LocateBLE suitable for a wide range of Real-Time Asset Tracking applications.

Finally, in case location accuracy is the key requirement, AccuRTLS is the ideal solution. AccuRTLS provides state-of-the-art performance, with real-time tracking and accuracy down to a few tens of centimeters in a real operating environment, thanks to RTLS Bluetooth® LE Angle of Arrival technology, developed by Quuppa, of which BlueUp has been a partner since 2017.
For this technology, BlueUp develops and produces Quppa Approved tag, certified directly by Quuppa to be fully compatible on a functional, performance and mechanical level with Quuppa technology.

Do you want to find out if BlueUp solutions can help you in your reality? Contact us to find out more! 😊