warehouse asset tracking

What is a real-time location system?

A real-time location system (RTLS) is a technology setup that allows users to track the location and movement of people, objects, or animals within a pre-defined space. All tracking is accomplished via an automated process, which means that no manual input of an item’s location is necessary.

As you can imagine, automated asset tracking of this caliber is incredibly useful for many organizations. Real-time location systems are often used in business settings to keep tabs on high-value assets within a facility, like a hospital, warehouse, office building, etc. The goal of implementing a real-time location system is often to aid staff efficiency when performing tasks—by cutting down the time employees spend looking for lost or misplaced tools, for example. However, real-time location systems are implemented for patient safety in some settings, like healthcare or geriatric care.

Setup of real-time location system: hardware and software

For a real-time location system to function, two elements are necessary: hardware and software. Essentially, the hardware of an RTLS gathers information about the movement and location of objects. The hardware sends this information to the software. The software then documents and organizes the information received by the hardware into easy-to-understand records. These records are accessible by the software’s end-users in just a few clicks.

RTLS Hardware

A real-time location system requires multiple hardware elements: readers, antennas, and RFID tags. These three elements each have a unique role in gathering information on the location and movement of assets.

RFID Tags

RFID tags are installed directly on assets. These tags emit signals that are received by antennas. As assets travel around the facility, different antennas receive the signals emitted by the tags that are attached to them.

Signal shown passing from RFID tags to antennas

Antennas

Antennas are strategically placed around the facility, in what are called pinch-points, where the tracking will occur. For example, if the tracking area has rooms with doors, antennas would be placed on either side of each door. As assets move around, different antennas receive signals from the RFID tags on those assets and pass that information to readers.

Signal shown passing from antennas to readers

Readers

Readers are small pieces of smart technology—like a computer without a screen—installed in ceilings and typically not visible in the facility. Wires connect each antenna in the facility with a reader, allowing antennas to pass along the signals received by RFID tags. Readers filter the data received and pass the data on to the software.

Signal shown passing from Readers to Software

RTLS Software

The data that is passed from the hardware to the software of the RTLS is dense, like a spreadsheet with thousands of rows of raw data. In environments where RTLS are needed, users need location information fast—no hassles attached. It is the software’s job to organize and store the data it receives so the key insights are easily accessible to its busy users. The software of the system allows users to navigate through a user interface to look up where an asset is and has been in an easy-to-understand format that saves users time and frustration in their day-to-day.

Visual of location documentation in software UI

Additional Features of RTLS Software

Every RTLS software platform is a bit different, but most platforms on the market provide more benefits than just location data for assets. Features for streamlining inventory processes, keeping up with routine maintenance, and tracking chain-of-custody for assets are standard features in RTLS software.

Enasys’ RTLS software includes the features of platforms on the market, which you can learn more about here, but what makes Enasys unique is the customizable profiles that users can build for each asset. These profiles allow Enasys to be a single tool for all asset-related information. Users can track an asset’s warranty information, monetary value, date of purchase, expected lifespan, and virtually any other detail that would ever need to be tracked, right alongside the inventory, maintenance, chain-of-custody, and location information for the asset.

Enasys as a real-time location system provider

Enasys is a subscription-based software platform that documents the movement and location of objects in a real-time location system. Although the software is only half of the setup needed for an RTLS to function, Enasys provides a full-service, turnkey solution.

Our team is highly knowledgeable in how to design real-time location systems that meet unique tracking needs. We work with all of our clients to understand their tracking needs, budget considerations, and where the tracking will occur, then we suggest various setup options. We are a certified re-seller of the major hardware brands on the market, are familiar with the features of all popular hardware options, and can advise choosing the product that best fits your organization’s needs. Additionally, we have installation technicians at the ready for getting hardware installed with minimal turn-around time.

Once the hardware is installed, our tech experts assist clients in setting up the RTLS in the Enasys software. Ongoing support is always available to help troubleshoot any issues that arise or advise how to structure the RTLS to fit a change in needs.

As a smaller business, Enasys can provide tailored support to clients in every step of the way. After all, an asset tracking system is supposed to make your organization run more smoothly; it shouldn’t be a headache to setup.

Find out what a real-time location system would look like for your organization; contact us today!

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