The manufacturing industry needs digital and innovative solutions to facilitate flexible and
transparent production and to be able to offer rapid responses to new customer needs.
An essential part of achieving these innovations is Bluetooth® Low Energy, a key technology for the
Internet of Things, which makes identification, location, tracking and monitoring applications affordable,
easy to implement. Thanks to this potential and to the low-energy requirements of asset tags that can operate
for years with a single coin battery, Bluetooth LE is widely used as positioning technology to address the
increasing demand for zone-based or high-accuracy indoor location services. In manufacturing industries,
Bluetooth LE tags are used to track assets in order to reduce losses and search times or to aumentate inventory,
to track workers for real-time process control or safety alerts, to track vehicles for collision avoidance or condition monitoring.
Manufacturing companies waste a lot of time because of the location of parts, products, orders, racks and tools,
inside or outside the factory, which are often not documented transparently. In such cases this can mean that orders need to be re-produced
or tools need to be repurchased because they cannot be found quickly enough, even when it is not necessary. Companies therefore need a system that
tells them where these items are. The technological approaches available range from selective registration of movements to precise real-time
localization systems. Each use case poses different challenges for location technology.
A contract manufacturer of fasteners based in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) expressed the need to find a solution in this regard.
The production orders of that company consist of one or more transport containers containing the required items.
The blanks are produced on machines and pass through several production stages, including washing, hardening and galvanising,
before they are ready for consignment. Every order is produced to suit the customer’s own specifications. Orders were previously
described on accompanying documents placed in each container together with the items required. To optimise machine capacity utilisation,
comparable orders were bundled, which meant large numbers of containers and the associated orders had to be put in temporary storage. As a
consequence, it was regularly necessary to spend non-productive time finding a particular order on the shop floor and grouping orders based on
the same specifications.
INDUTRAX has developed the
Location Aware Software,
which allows to automatically track all orders in the workshop using a location function. In internal areas,
a precise location is obtained using a dedicated infrastructure based on Quuppa Angle-of-Arrival (AoA) Real-Time
Locating System (RTLS) technology . Each container is equipped with a location label and the production area is covered
by location Quuppa antennas which receive the signals transmitted by the position tags. The location software uses this
data to calculate the position of the location tags with an accuracy of less than 1 m. Depending on the search criteria
selected, the software will display a list of containers on the operators’ screens. The location of the containers in question
is displayed on the floor plan, making it easy to find them in any part of the shop floor. Containers are allocated to orders based
on the data from production control. Clicking on a certain order on the screen activates the LED on the position tag. INDUTRAX selected
BlueUp Quuppa Forte+ ver. HVL that, thanks to its high-visibility LED,
allows to facilitates the visual identification of the container
(and therefore, of the order) even at a great distance. Furthermore, the Forte+ tag,
thanks to its rugged IP67 case, is suitable for operating
in industrial harsh environments where mechanical stresses are often present (shocks, vibrations, falls, …). With "Location Aware Software",
order dwell time in the various process stages can also be called up, in addition to further data to analyse and improve the production process.
This software has allowed the client company to reduce the time spent searching for material to zero, has made it possible to optimize
and make the production process more transparent and has increased the flexibility in offering almost immediate answers to customer needs.