By Darshak Patel, Ketan Bhavsar, Mahesh Dhapa, Bhumit Patel
When you think of beacons what comes to mind - a lighthouse right? In its simplest form, beacons are Bluetooth Low Energy devices (BLE) that broadcast location signals. Since most major operating systems support Bluetooth technology, it allows businesses to connect a bevy of Bluetooth-enabled devices. BLE is a one-way transmitter intended to help identify the whereabouts of a person or object. More commonly used in retail to engage potential shoppers in close proximity, forward-thinking manufacturers are finding ways to leverage beacons both indoors and out.
Beacons are gaining ground across industries including:
- Wholesale/retail /trade
For example; if a manufacturer attaches beacons to its warehouse containers, with mobile device in tow, workers can easily determine the location of the containers and identify the contents.
The RFID chips of the past are no longer efficient with their limited range, high interference, and significant infrastructure investments. A few beacons and you’re ready to cover a large swath of the warehouse. Stationary or in transit, beacons are helping companies become more efficient at tracking their assets, engaging customers, and more.
Moreover, the cost savings for switching from RFID to beacons is significant due to the simplicity of connecting any Bluetooth-enabled device to a WiFi connection. RFID costs can spiral because it requires a good bit of cabling, antennas, and readers plus tags. Meanwhile, beacons are easy on the budget because it only requires readers.
Innovation in People Management
Beacon technology in manufacturing is a powerful tool for interacting with users in your warehouse. A custom application installed at the entrance enables employees or visitors to navigate the most complex layouts. For example; a bottling plant has many departments including ingredients, washing, mixing and blending, filling and capping, labeling, inspection, and packaging. By developing a custom beacon app managers can quickly identify the whereabouts of staff and determine the next logical move. This custom beacon technology can also welcome visitors, facilitate real-time interaction, and offer advice on how to proceed through the plant floor cautiously.
Beacons can also help keep employees safe. Installing these tiny devices in high-caution areas can warn employees with customized alerts built into their wearables. It can recite safety procedures and suggest the appropriate protective gear for various scenarios. For instance, beacons can be attached to an employee’s helmet and synchronized to his or her employee ID. Once a match is made it allows the system to analyze ID signals for greater control and security, especially in an emergency when understanding the exact position of your employee is crucial.
Enterprise manufacturers will find that BLE technology lowers power consumption on the plant floor which in turn lowers costs. It simplifies inventory management and provides insights that can optimize employee activities and shield them from danger. Embedded analytics add another dimension to this cost-saving technology. At a time when security, efficiency, and productivity are top of mind, beacon technology is a strong partner to enterprise mobility. If you have any questions please let us know.