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What Is RTLS?

What is RTLS

What is RTLS? The acronym RTLS stands for real-time locating solution.

In some cases, you might need to track the precise locations of objects. Other times, it’s enough to know that an item is in a general area. RTLS solutions can be configured to report tag location at different levels of granularity. You can also configure an RTLS system to tell you when a tag passes through a specific door or other critical chokepoints.

It’s also worth noting that, although an RTLS system is capable of providing real-time information as often as you need it, the need for true real-time data is rare. For many common RFID RTLS applications, you just need to know something’s location when you need it. Why identify where something is every second when it only moves every few hours or days? In this case, updates every minute or hour would probably be sufficient, and you can configure your system accordingly.

A variety of sensor technologies (active RFID, semi-active RFID, passive RFID, radio beacon, and others) can be employed in real-time locating systems to achieve multiple levels of tracking, depending on your needs. The objects being tracked, the layout of the environment, location accuracy required and other factors will heavily influence this decision.

RTLS in Action

Here are a few common ways RTLS technology is being used to improve productivity and customer satisfaction:

  • Tracking automobiles through an assembly line.
  • Locating pallets of merchandise in a warehouse.
  • Item-level item tracking in a high-end retail location.
  • Ensuring proper staff levels, such as guards at a detention facility.
  • Identifying customers in a restaurant for food delivery or service.
  • Locating shared-use medical equipment in a hospital.

According to a study conducted by VDC Research Group, Inc. in 2012, RTLS was being used in virtually every market to improve workflow and productivity. Here’s how location-based services are being leveraged by different industries:

Common RTLS Applications by Vertical Market

Healthcare
  • Asset Tracking
  • Employee Tracking
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Maintenance Management
  • Safety and Compliance
Government
  • Asset Tracking
  • Employee Tracking
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Maintenance Management
  • Safety and Compliance
  • Livestock Tracking
Manufacturing
  • Asset Tracking
  • Employee Tracking
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Maintenance Management
  • Safety and Compliance
  • Work in Process
  • Tool Tracking
Retail
  • Asset Tracking
  • Employee Tracking
  • Customer Tracking
  • Supply Chain Management
Hospitality
  • Asset Tracking
  • Employee Tracking
  • Customer Tracking

This list is by no means exhaustive. For many industries, RTLS provides one of the most effective and affordable means of measuring and seeing what’s going on operationally within an enterprise.

Next Steps

Deploying RTLS doesn’t have to be a complex, expensive and time-consuming process. If you focus your initial efforts on addressing one or two less complex business applications, you will have less risk and a lower resource commitment will likely see measurable results more quickly and will be able to determine the overall potential ROI for RTLS within your operations.  

Have a use case in mind? Contact us to learn more about how RTLS can be used to support the specialized needs of your organization.

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