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How Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Technology Works in Industrial Environments

When implementing a Real-Time Location System (RTLS), companies in industrial environments need to thoroughly review their options to find the best-fit solution.  Industrial settings often have specific requirements needed from a RTLS solution due to complex working environments – that includes warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and hospitals, to name a few.  Capabilities such as frequency of location updates, long battery life, location accuracy, and other asset monitoring capabilities are critical factors to consider.  With many communication technologies on the market to help transfer data within RTLS solutions, it can be a daunting task when deciding which is best for your industrial workplace.

Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) is one of the leading communication technologies powering RTLS solutions.  Let’s take a look at how Link Labs’ AirFinder Bluetooth LE solution works in various industrial environments.

Powering a RTLS with Next-Generation Bluetooth LE Technology

AirFinder OnSite is the first industrial Bluetooth LE solution for asset tracking of its kind.  Developed with Link Labs’ patented technologies, users can more easily and quickly identify critical asset information.  Traditional Bluetooth LE became popular in industrial settings because of its ability to send location data quickly and accurately, without straining asset tag battery life.  Link Labs has pioneered traditional Bluetooth LE and released a newer version referred to as XLE™ (Xtreme Low Energy).

XLE technology more accurately identifies asset location within 3 feet or less through phase-ranging, while saving even more of asset tag battery life.  XLE battery tags last up to 7 years, whereas traditional Bluetooth LE tags, last around 3 years.

AirFinder OnSite uses XLE technology to support both wireless connectivity and range finding. This is key in its ability to achieve sub-meter accuracy and affordability. More specifically, AirFinder tags and beacons use a Nordic nRF52833 Bluetooth® 5.2/Bluetooth LE advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC), while its access points use a nRF52840 SoC to provide the core processing power and range finding capability. The nRF52833 chip meets the requirements for low latency range finding use cases and enables positioning applications that rely on received signal strength indication (RSSI) and signal direction. Ultimately, the nRF52833’s 64MHz processor, supported by a large memory capacity of 512kB Flash and 128 kB RAM, enables the tags to calculate their own location and reduce the bandwidth requirement of the wireless link.

In range finding, the tag placed on an asset uses this technology to first calculate the range to multiple beacons and determine its location by finding where the measured ranges to each of the beacons intersect. Then, the tag communicates the information (plus any sensory data readings) to access points through its XLE technology.  Around one access point is placed for every four beacons to receive and send the data. Access points, connected via Link Labs’ patented Symphony Link technology, send data to a cellular gateway connected to the cloud

AirFinder OnSite users can use the cloud-based platform, AirFinder OnSite, to locate or navigate their way to the specified location, item, or individual. The platform can be accessed from a Bluetooth 4.0 (or later) smartphone/tablet or web-based browser and can be used for all kinds of industrial needs such as mapping, infrastructure monitoring, device management, geofencing, alerting, data/analytics, and workflow capabilities.

XLE Industrial Use Cases

There are many industrial use case scenarios where AirFinder OnSite’s XLE technology is used to provide an effective RTLS solution to increase productivity, compliance, or safety in the workplace. Here are some examples of where XLE provides an ideal solution in a variety of industrial settings.

Manufacturing

In industries such as manufacturing where efficient operations are the leading indicator of success, it is important to have asset visibility wherever you need it. For example, in a warehouse, costly delays can be avoided when critical parts, equipment, and tools can be located in real time. The reduced latency of AirFinder OnSite’s XLE location determination process, allows it to track a moving forklift or send rapid alerts when assets leave a geofenced area. By doing this, AirFinder OnSite alerts managers of critical information. It also empowers workers to instantly find the location of any tagged item, even from a mobile device.

Supply Chain

For supply chain and logistics industries, asset tracking is critical due to the number of different facilities or distribution centers, and how immensely large they tend to be. However, a benefit of using the Link Labs platform is its ability to scale and cover large areas. A single Symphony Link gateway can cover as much as 1 million square feet. Because Symphony Link is a LoRa (Long Range) wireless network, a single gateway can connect to dozens of access points throughout a large facility. AirFinder OnSite’s XLE technology is leading the asset tracking industry through the use of XLE beacons, tags, and access points, all enabling the RTLS to run effectively throughout a large facility without compromising affordability.

Healthcare

Just as AirFinder OnSite’s XLE technology has the ability to cover a large area, it also can be scaled down based on business need. If the solution doesn’t need to be installed throughout an entire facility, it can be installed only where coverage is needed, for example, to track equipment in hospital operating rooms. In emergency situations, where groups of equipment need to be identified and relocated quickly, AirFinder XLE captures equipment location in real time, while providing a “breadcrumb” trail of historical location data. The AirFinder OnSite platform can then create reports to be used by healthcare workers and supervisors for audits and other important meetings.

XLE Asset Tracking for Every Industrial Need

AirFinder OnSite XLE covers a variety of industrial environments – and can be applied to nearly every working situation – with its multi-functional set up. Consider the benefits that a Link Labs RTLS can bring to your enterprise. To see AirFinder OnSite XLE in action, request a demo today.
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Written by Georgiana Strait

Georgiana Strait is a Digital Marketing Manager at Link Labs with 6+ years of experience in the technology and software industries, with specialized interest and expertise in the IoT field. She has helped market emerging technologies such as Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence, analytics programs, virtual assistants, software for regulatory compliance needs, and much more. Prior to her professional career as a marketer, Georgiana served in the United States Military in the Active Duty Army as a Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Specialist. She was stationed in El Paso, Texas at Fort Bliss and had one deployment overseas during her time in the Army.

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