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Beacons improve Logistics operations: track and locate assets in big warehouses

Posted by Doru Supeala / Thursday March 17th, 2016 / Categories: iBeacon / 3 Comments

The Bluetooth Beacons technology is prepared to save time and money in the Logistics operations, by transforming the micro-location and presence detection into a very powerful competitive advantage for many businesses in this field.

Onyx Beacon has created a dedicated integrated solution, to help businesses that produce high value assets in big quantities and with intense movement of stocks to solve the problems related to locating those items in their big warehouses or parking lots. This solution enables you to easily search and find your items, to visualise their status by using a map-based CMS interface and, therefore, schedule with ease which item should go to which order.

The Onyx Beacon solution helps your logistics operations in large warehouses with huge quantities of similar valuable assets

The Onyx Beacon solution helps your logistics operations in large warehouses with huge quantities of similar valuable assets

The Concept of Asset Tracking based on BLE Beacons

The solution of Asset Tracking for the Logistics sector, developed by the Onyx Beacon Team, is based on three entities: our CMS platform, a dedicated mobile application and our Enterprise Beacons, the strongest beacon available now on the market, created to perform and deliver the best results in outdoors and industrial environments.

The Enterprise Beacons are built to work in difficult or special conditions, like those we can find in big warehouses. It is waterpceiling and equipped with powerful battery – up to 4 years estimated, can be plugged directly to the building’s electric network or powered via USB, and it is provided with buzzer, for audio orientation. The mobile application is now available for iOS devices, and the Android version is coming up next, and the Onyx Beacon Content Management System (CMS) is directly involved in this solution, because it gathers data in real time and provides an accurate updated image of your entire stocks and their positions within the warehouse.

Our solution works with two types of beacons: FIXED BEACONS, which help in warehouse mapping and localisation, and MOBILE BEACONS, which are placed on assets, able to precisely identify the merchandises.

The Strategy of coverage: mapping the warehouse

Use a plan of your warehouse and split the surface in squares of 20 to 30 meters width. Try to identify accessible points on the ceiling or on high vertical structures, very near to the center of each square, where you can safely place the Fixed Beacons.

The width of each square depends on how high is the ceiling. It is desirable that the final distance from the Fixed Beacon to the margins of the square to be of maximum 30 meters. After planning the areas of the warehouse, the next step is to install the Fixed Beacons.

Install Fixed Beacons, by sticking Enterprise Beacons on plane surfaces on the interior side of the ceiling, and by avoiding any possible contact with mobile lifts and elevators, machines or other types of installations.

Use the CMS platform to enroll the Fixed Beacons and to Name each Fixed Beacon to precisely identify the area covered by the device. By using the Onboarding feature available on our CMS, you can precisely place the beacons on the warehouse plan. The Fixed Enterprise Beacons can be powered also via power supply or by USB connection, if there is a network available at the ceiling level.

defining sectors in the warehouse

Defining sectors in your warehouse, which is now mapped and covered by Fixed Beacons. Beacons B1 and C1 could be tagged as Entry/Exit Beacons in this layout.

Identify each asset by using a Mobile Beacon

After the mapping is done and the entire surface of the warehouse is covered by Fixed Beacons, we are ready to work with the assets and the Mobile Beacons.

Mobile Beacons will be attached or screwed on a plane exterior surface of the Asset. Placing Mobile Beacons on plastic envelopes glued on packages could be a useful idea. Each Mobile Beacon will be assigned to the Asset ID, by using the CMS cloud platform. After installing the Mobile Beacon, the Asset can be placed in the warehouse.

As an optional feature, a mobile device installed at the Entry / Exit of the warehouse could precisely record the entry or exit of the package and all other relevant information: date, time etc. This fixed mobile device at the Entry is not mandatory, location data will be gathered via a mobile device used by the personnel or installed on a forklift or mobile crane.

Mobile Beacon installed on a steel coil in a warehouse with intense traffic of merchandises

Mobile Beacon installed on a steel coil in a warehouse with intense traffic of merchandises

How the solution works in real conditions

All information is collected and updated, by using a mobile device. This mobile device identifies Mobile Beacons and Fixed Beacons in its range and the mobile application associates the Mobile Beacon with the Fixed Beacon, meaning the location/area in the warehouse.

Data is transferred in real time to the cloud CMS platform and any location change is identified when a mobile device with the application installed on arrives in that area.

In order to rapidly identify your desired Asset, you need to look in the Mobile App or in the CMS platform to see exactly where the Mobile Beacon assigned to that Asset was last seen. After identifying the location, you have to go in that specific area with the mobile device and push the TRACK button.

The Mobile Beacon will emit a Beep signal, and the mobile application will also emit a sound with variable intensity as you are getting closer to the Asset. By using the sound feature, the warehouse manager will succeed to identify very fast the Asset that he was looking for.

Attaching a mobile device on the forklifts or mobile cranes used to move the assets could be a very good and effective idea.

Attaching a mobile device on the forklifts or mobile cranes used to move the assets could be a very good and effective idea.

After the asset is ready to be delivered and to leave the warehouse, the Mobile Beacon attached to it will be removed and assigned to a new asset which enters the warehouse. Each mobile beacon can be assigned only to a specific asset, and the number of re-assignment operations could provide an accurate image about the dynamic of the assets in the warehouse. At the same time, the CMS platform is gathering all data related to the operations related to the assets inside the warehouse and all this data and analytics can help managers to improve the flow, the processes and the efficiency of the operations.

We have gathered all the information presented in this article in a Slideshare presentation, in order for you to easily understand the concept and its functionalities. If there is something more that you want to know about this solution, do not hesitate to contact our Sales and Customer Support team.

3 comments
  • Wade Kovach says:

    We are in the planning to do bluetooth asset tracking in our facility in Medina, Ohio. This is a new technology to our plant so we are in the data gathering stage. Can you proved any information you can. Can the goods movements be transfered to SAP in any way? How does the app work with a facility map?

    Thank you

    • Doru Supeala says:

      Dear Wade,
      My colleagues in the Sales and Customer Service department will contact you today, to provide all the information and support you need. We will be glad and happy to help you implement our solution, if it fits your activity and fully satisfies needs. Keep in touch, thank you for visiting our blog.

  • Oktay Ertas says:

    Hi,
    Do you have standalone solution rather than the cloud one? What is estimated cost per square meter? Is your solution suitable to harsh metal manufacturing environment.

    Thanks.

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