Real-time tool and equipment tracking is an important aspect of any manufacturing operation. The ability to know where a tool or piece of equipment is at any given time can improve efficiency, safety, and overall productivity. This is where Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) come into play. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of RTLS systems, particularly Ultra-Wideband (UWB) RTLS, across different manufacturing environments.

What is RTLS?

RTLS systems are a collection of technologies that are used to automatically identify and track the location of objects or people in real-time. These systems typically use wireless communication protocols to communicate with a central server, which can then be used to monitor the location of objects or people. RTLS systems have been in use for several years in a variety of industries, including auto manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, and retail. However, they are becoming increasingly important in the general manufacturing, auto, and aerospace sectors.

RTLS for tool & equipment tracking

Tool and equipment tracking can help businesses save money. Lost or misplaced tools and equipment can be expensive to replace, and downtime due to missing equipment can be costly. By tracking tools and equipment with specialised tag and sensor systems, businesses can reduce the amount of equipment they need to purchase and avoid the costs associated with equipment downtime.

If deploying a centre-meter level accurate RTLS like Ubisense’s SmartSpace® solution, there are more detailed tasks that can be outsourced to the RTLS. For example, auto plants can tag specific tools on their production line, ensuring that only the correct tools, calibrated to the correct settings are used on certain vehicles. This can prevent errors and instances of rework. Learn more about this here.

These tracking systems can vary widely and will rely on different radio technologies and well as different software solutions. The aim of all RTLS systems will be to create a visual impression of the working environment, which will allow management to gain a greater oversight of tool & equipment usage. By seeing how assets are being utilized, management can optimise their usage and ensure that no equipment is either overused or misplaced. They can also set up alerts to warn of possible equipment misuse or mismanagement. The resulting cost savings should easily compensate for any investment into the installation and servicing of the RTLS system.

The broader benefits of RTLS

One of the most important benefits of UWB RTLS systems in manufacturing and aerospace MRO operations is the ability to improve asset utilization. These systems can help companies identify underutilized assets, which can then be moved to areas where they are needed more. This can help companies reduce the amount of equipment they need to purchase, which can result in significant cost savings.

Another benefit of UWB RTLS systems in manufacturing and aerospace is the ability to improve safety. These systems can help prevent accidents by quickly locating vehicles, tools, and equipment that may pose a safety risk. For example, if a tool is left on a machine and someone tries to operate it, the UWB RTLS system can alert the operator that the tool is present, preventing an accident.

UWB RTLS systems can also help improve efficiency in manufacturing and aerospace operations. By tracking the location of all assets (including people) in real-time, companies can quickly locate the items they need and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a task. This can help companies increase their overall productivity, resulting in higher profits.

In addition to these benefits, UWB RTLS systems can also help companies improve their inventory management. By tracking the location of tools and equipment, companies can quickly identify when an item is out of place or missing. This can help prevent inventory discrepancies and ensure that companies always have the equipment they need to complete a job.

The accuracy and flexibility of UWB RTLS

One of the key features of UWB RTLS systems is their accuracy. UWB RTLS uses radio waves to communicate between tags and readers, which allows for highly precise location tracking. This is particularly important in manufacturing and aerospace operations, where equipment can be located in large facilities or even across multiple buildings. The high accuracy of UWB RTLS systems ensures that companies can quickly locate equipment, even in complex environments.

UWB RTLS systems are also very flexible and can be customized to meet the specific needs of a manufacturing or aerospace operation. For example, companies can set up geofences around certain areas to ensure that equipment stays within designated boundaries. Additionally, UWB RTLS systems can be integrated with other technologies, such as RFID or barcode scanning, to create a comprehensive asset tracking solution.

When implementing a UWB RTLS system in a manufacturing or aerospace operation, there are several key factors to consider. First, it is important to choose a system that is scalable and can grow with the company. Additionally, the system should be easy to use and integrate with existing technologies. Finally, the system should be able to provide accurate location tracking in a variety of environments, including indoor and outdoor spaces. If you would like to know more about what RTLS systems could do for your operation, please get in touch now.