1. What is RTLS and IIOT?
RTLS or real-time location systems, use radio frequency technology to automatically identify and track the location of objects or people. RTLS has been around for more than 30 years in different forms and most technologies powering RTLS are now well known and sufficiently mature enough deploy. The issue is always one of scale. Most solutions struggle to scale die to high tag and infrastructure costs which negate any ROI. Manufacturing is advancing because of industry 4.0 initiatives around digitalisation which is inseparable from the IIOT or industrial Internet of Things. RTLS forms part of that world. Readers are used to provide reference points to define different areas, and RFID (active radio frequency identification) tags are affixed to people or assets for location monitoring. The tags send a ping to the receivers periodically to provide identification and location information. In Industry UWB has become the standard. Uwinloc’s solution is focused mainly on Industrial use cases for scale or logistics mobile uses cases with its materials handling solution MahVis.
2. What technologies are out there I am confused?
The Market is divided in two categories: 1. Passive solution to track manually or get information from bar codes, QR codes or / and RFID. These solutions are affordable but do not provide location. 2. Active solution, all battery assisted, are providing location. There are many different sometime competing but more often than not complimentary technologies being deployed in the field. Such as, WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), UWB, UHF RFID, NB IoT, with different location accuracy, cost and reliability. Often, there is no one or single technology that fits all. However, UWB (Ultra-Wide-Band is fast becoming the de-facto standard in most industrial environments.
3. What is Passive tag and what is Active Technology?
Passive tags are usually low cost and are associated with Radio frequency identification (RFID) and is usually used to identify objects when in close proximity to a reader. This is similar in functionality to as bar-codes. Active tag technology is usually based on real-time location systems (RTLS). This is used to provide management and tracking of people or assets in commercial or industrial environments. RTLS solutions usually provide a 2-dimensional X-Y location for objects with varying degrees of success and accuracy. Few solutions, other than UWB can provide a Z axis or 3D capabilities with good accuracy.
4. What is UWB and why does it perform better than BLE Low Energy as an example?
Ultra-Wide- Band technology Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are low power wireless communication technologies widely used for location tracking and indoor positioning systems. UWB is a radio technology that uses short pulse radio waves to achieve high bandwidth connections. This results in a better accuracy and robustness.
5. When/why should I choose active UWB with Energy Harvesting Tags over Bluetooth?
It has been proven that UWB over BLE has a greater accuracy, better range and is not as susceptible to EMI in industrial environments. Many manufactures over several years have tested numerous technologies and are standardising on UWB. Uwinloc’s UWB solution with its unique Energy harvesting tags provide a 2-dimensional X-Y location for objects with unsurpassed accuracy. It can also provide provides a Z axis or 3D capability.
6. Is UWB technology really refined, and can it really help me?
There are several vendors of UWB solutions but not all are equal. Most are battery driven tag technologies using generic chips sets. Uwinloc’s technology has been developed from the ground up and is based on leading edge, patented and sustainable, low-cost Energy Harvesting tags.
7. What are the benefits of UWB/RTLS?
Here are a few benefits to using UWB RTLS in industrial settings including work-in-progress (WIP) tracking, protections against equipment loss and theft or shrinkage. Locating raw materials for just in time deployments that can be critical for production continuity. Ensuring the practical use of space by offering visibility of assets and not overstocking. Enhancing and streamlining operations and processes. There are many more some often intangible but very real. UWB can also aids WIP tracking by pairing always-current data with each component part of process. Visibility of a process means plant managers can detect issues such as, How long each process stage takes, where products or components are potentially getting stuck or creating a backlog. An audit trail for each item and process from inception to completion and many more.
8. Do your solutions require their own proprietary infrastructure?
Uwinloc’s Fixed solution requires a Beacon/Reader/receiver infrastructure complimented with energy sources. Depending on the requirements this can work in smaller industrial environments but can be a challenge to scale. To address this Uwinloc, in conjunction with major Wireless vendors is producing a USB plug in reader/dongle that will effectively allow users to piggy back of existing wireless infrastructures, reducing the cost of civil works. It will also be possible to use existing LAN infrastructures to plug in either a standard Uwinloc Beacon.
9. What is Industry 4.0 all about?
Industry 4.0 is effectively the Forth Industry revolution, revolutionising the way companies manufacture, improve and distribute their products. Manufacturers are integrating new technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and analytics, and AI and machine learning into their production facilities and throughout their operation. Uwinloc’s UWB solution is an enabling technology that fits into the digitisation process to improve production and give visibility, facilitating better management decisions.
10. Is there an Industry 5.0 yet and will UWB still be relevant?
Industry 5.0 is coming along, its objective is to leverage the creativity of human experts in collaboration with efficient, intelligent and accurate machines, in order to obtain resource-efficient and user-preferred manufacturing solutions compared to Industry 4.0. Uwinloc’s solution due to its accuracy will be still be very relevant.
11. What is a sensor tag?
Usually, a tag that has telemetry capabilities which would facilitate the transmission of data from a device. This could be temperature, Humidity or a notification such as movement. Uwinloc has sensor tags for specific use cases in Aerospace, Automotive and Discrete manufacturing. Due to the air- transmission power requirement of sending large amounts of data sensor tags are usually battery driven. Uwinloc’s Energy harvesting tags can send limited data packets.
12. Is your Energy Harvesting Tag Solution Passive or Active?
Uwinloc’s Unique Energy Harvesting tags do NOT have batteries and so can be considered to be Passive. They receive energy for an energy source which is stored on a capacitor. Due to years of research, investment and development they have similar performance to that of much more expensive Battery driven Active technologies. Energy Harvesting tags are low cost and sustainable without the maintenance overheads of active battery drive technologies.
13. How Much data storage is on your tag?
The Energy Harvesting tags are designed to be low cost, long range sustainable and secure and transmit a basic tag identifier or ID. They do not have the ability to hold large amounts of data but can hold some. All the information you want to pair your tag with, are being saved on our visualisation platform. If you have a specific requirement, please contact your in-region sales representative.
14. What is an exciter or energiser?
Uwinloc’s energy source is used primarily to charge its Energy Harvesting tags. It’s a low cost, small form factor device that produces an energy field at a specific frequency and power output (depending on country restrictions) to energise tags. These can be plugged in to a power source or powered by PoE to help charge Uwinloc’s Energy Harvesting Tags. The closer a tag is to a source filed the more often it will send out its unique ID or transmission. Exciters or energy sources transmit low frequency signals to trigger the tags when in the vicinity of their filed. Exciters can also be used at chokepoints such as portals on conveyor belts, doorways and stairwells to detected tags at close range or force an event.
15. Is the solution dangerous to health in anyway?
The Tags send out an extremely low ping for a very short duration, even in consolidated volumes they would not be as powerful as a mobile phone transmission.. The energy produced by Uwinloc’s energy sources is less than a mobile phone and is approved in various regions. The installation of these devises is deemed to be simple and safe. Certifications are available on request.
16. Are there any certifications required to use the solution?
Yes there are many certifications as well as patents that are listed on our product specification sheets or can be provided by request.
17. How long do your Energy Harvesting tags last?
In laboratory conditions almost indefinitely as there are no moving parts or batteries to replace. In a production environment, depending on the tag housing or formfactor specified, they can last for several years, without any maintenance.
18. Do I need to do maintenance on the tags?
No, the energy Harvesting tags are battery free and require no maintenance.
19. Is your platform and solution secure?
Uwinlocs Energy Harvesting Tags only transmit a unique Identifier or ID which carries no Data. By default, the platform which hold the and correlated the ID against the tracked asset or object has to be secure. Uwinloc uses standard security disciplines to ensure the security of both its cloud and on Premiss solutions.
20. Is there a rule of thumb cost comparison per Sq M?
Its possible to do a rough calculation, we can help you work through this as all environments and requirements are different. As a guide based on today’s tech as ‘Ball Park’ costings based on a rough total area of 10,000 sq mts. Infrastructure costs (i.e., Beacons and Energy generators) max Euros 15 per Sq Mtr. Additional power requirements to drive devices would add a further Euro 10 per Sq Mtr. Moving forwards, we believe that the infrastructure costs for Uwinloc’s plug and Play USB Dongle (assuming compatible Access Points) along with a much easier physical installation will be in around 30% of current pricing, so a massive reduction. In the future Uwinloc’s V.3 tags will be less than a dollar.
21. Digital Twin – Can you build one before we deploy?
Uwinloc is working with industry leading vendors in this space, specifically in automotive production to facilitate digital twin capabilities and can also use its technology to validate Digital Twin models. If you have a specific requirement, please contact your in-region sales representative.
22. Can I use Handheld devices to find assets?
Yes it, Uwinloc has developed a mobile phone to locate assets or objects in large spaces and operated similar to Waze. At the moment you require an infrastructure to allow for bidirectional communications to a hand held device or mobile phone running Uwinloc’s Last Mile AP. Uwinloc is working with global handheld scanner partners to integrate its technology into universal devices which would negate the need for infrastructure.
23. Does it work well on people?
Energy Harvesting tags are designed for use on assets but can in certain circumstances work for people location. Human bodies will attenuate the signal however, so the use cases need careful consideration and proper infrastructure planning to be effective.
24. Can the tags be affected by EMI?
Depending on the type and strength of the Electro Magnetic interference any type of tag that is transmitting on a Radio Frequency can be affected or attenuated. UWB is less susceptible to EMI than Wi-Fi or BLE as an example and as a result is the chosen technology for Industry. A site survey by Uwinloc’s services team can help you work out any potential problems in this area and identify the best approach re density of readers and energy sources to overcome EMI issues.
25. What IP rating do you have on your equipment and tags?
Please refer to the specification sheets of the specific product in question or contact your in-region sales representative.
26. Do you have solutions for gas or hazardous environments? (ATEX)
We work with recognised industry specialists in the area of Hazloc and ATEX. Specialised housing can be provided for certain deployments depending on the Zone rating. If you have a specific volume requirement or specialist application, please contact your in-region sales representative.
27. How does UWB RTLS work in industrial environment with high ceilings and interference?
Uwinloc’s UWB operating at 4-8Gig works better than most technologies in industrial environments with high ceilings. Accuracy level of better than a meter is easily achievable. A comparable Wi-Fi tag infrastructure operating at 2.4G will struggle to get better than 5 metre accuracy.
28. How does UWB RTLS work in commercial settings with low ceiling?
UWB can work in standard commercial setting, such as Office blocks or Hospitals. Proper infrastructure planning is required to get good accuracy and room level separation which is often required.
29. How far can you track assets or people outside my premises?
Without any infrastructure you can’t.
30. Can your solutions improve worker safety and staff well-being?
Yes they can, anything that increases visibility and helps with decision making can increase wellbeing. (For example, time optimisation, less time looking for lost asset to focus on added value tasks, or reduced number of accident with the use of the MahVis solution by a better route controlling)
31. Do you have any GPS capability?
Global positioning systems (GPS) use signals received from satellites to determine the location of objects. The system is available throughout the world and can provide an good accuracy in most places. Generally, satellites are not be visible indoors. GPS is used by most smartphone devices for position location and there are many handheld and mobile devices that provide location information using GPS. Active RFID based RTLS utilizes a custom deployed array of devices to allow the location of people and equipment within a local area or inside buildings. The benefit of GPS positioning is that it does not require the deployment of specific infrastructure. Uwinloc’s MahVis (Materials Handling and Visibility Solution) uses GPS location when outdoors to give location for precise drop and pick applications. Its uses ref tags to create a virtual indoor satellite like ref set up.
32. Why should I work with Uwinloc what do I look for in a vendor?
There are several vendors offering tracking technology in the marketplace. We appreciate that it can be difficult to discern the differences between them. Here are some things to ask yourself. Does the vendor offer a variety of tags to suit your specific requirements? What type of RFID technology do I think I need ie Wi-Fi, BLE or is it UWB? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different technologies in relation to your requirements? Does the technology easily integrate with your inhouse and 3rd party systems? Did the vendor acquire generic technologies to create its offering or was it purpose- built from the ground up? Is the solution a proven platform in your industry? Does the vendor offer a comprehensive training program for all levels of staff? What kind of location accuracy does the platform provide? How responsive is the company to bespoke requests? Is the technology sustainable or does it require a battery. What are the maintenance and tag replacement costs?
33. When to choose active UWB over Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi Tags are generally battery driven and require maintenance, their accuracy in an industrial environment is known to be relatively poor. Their upfront purchase costs can be similar to standard battery driven UWB tags. UWB tags give far better accuracy in both 2D and 3D plains. Most manufacturers have tested various technologies but are standardising on UWB. Even so many UWB vendors fail to scale due to tag costs. Uwinloc’s UWB solution uses its low cost, sustainable tag technology which allows for large volume scale being 10x cheaper than battery driven tech.
34. What form factors do you have in your portfolio?
Please see our product speciation sheet for details of all our products.
35. What typically is the level of location precision most people require?
It really depends on the application. Wifi in a large open warehouse for tracking people for example may suit the purpose with 5-10 metres accuracy. However, should you want sub-Meter accuracy in a warehouse or industrial environment then UWB is the answer, especially if you require a Z axis as well and X & Y.
36. My management needs a business case can you help with building that?
Sure we can-During the process which precedes a site POC/POV or site deployment, Uwinloc’s Services team, will engage with you directly and help identify the relevant stakeholders to gather information to build a business case. This will usually require several interviews with different personas’ from those who will ultimately benefit. Uwinlocs Sales and Services teams are used to engaging at all levels to help build out a business case with a real ROI.
37. How can I easily work out the scale cost for your solution?
Uwinloc’s Sales representatives and Service teams have ROI tolls that can help you quickly work out scale costs for any environment. Discounts can be applied for large volume tag deployments or open loop disposable tag requirements Hardware—including antennas / anchors, tags, and any other hardware needed for system connectivity. There are many factors to bring into the equation. Installation costs, training, onboarding, software licenses, costs for any required data integration or bespoke development work. Finally annual maintenance solution support all play a part in the overall cost structure.
38. Is your Solution cloud based or on premise?
Uwinoc’s BFS solution can be deployed in the cloud or on premise depending on restrictions and requirements, which are set by Military or sensitive customers.
39. Who owns the data on your platform?
40. What Standards does you solution comply with?
At this stage there are no specific standards for UWB. Uwinloc being a lead in this filed may well be instrumental in creating standards with other UWB vendors in the near future.
41. Is your solution compatible with the GS1 standard?
No. Although the tags are effectively passive Uwinloc has no sought to seek GS1 certification at this stage but may do in the future once its V.3 technology is productionised, depending on the verticals its roadmaps focuses upon.
42. Can you help me with the OT / IT discussion?
During the discovery process which precedes a site POC/ POV or site deployment, Uwinloc’s Services team, will engage with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure success. This will usually require several meetings with different personas’ from both the OT are and IT. Traditionally plant managers and IT often have different priorities and agendas. Uwinloc understands this and can help broker sensible productive meetings with logical outcomes for all concerns delivering real results and short ROI’s.
43. How easily does your solution integrate into SAP, MES or warehouse management systems?
Through Uwinloc’s BFS rich API’s integration is relatively straight forward into most systems. Proper planning and preparation is required in order to facilitate any integration and validation testing will be required. Uwinloc’s Services team will help you through this and will produce proper Project plans with realistic time lines to achieve your objectives.
44. Do you have a solution for my Forklift truck?
Uwinloc’s MahVis (Materials Handling and Visibility Solution) is designed specifically for deployment on Forklift trucks. There is cleary value in tracking a forklift’s load as well as doing route optimisation and usage monitoring Uwinloc does the former, It uses GPS location when outdoors to give location for precise drop and pick applications. Its uses ref tags to create a virtual indoor satellite like ref set up. Uwinloc can work with existing Forklift manufactures and other Tracking vendors for route optimisation and visualisation on to either Uwinloc’s platform or the partners/customers MES, Warehouse management system, SAP or simply Forklift visualisation platform. It is easy and relatively cheap to deploy with a Capex or Opex- LaaS (Location as as Service) model.
45. What is the easiest way to get going with your UWB solution?
When beginning your own RTLS journey, there is a lot to think about. Firstly, what problem are you trying to fix , ie what is the major headache? Next, what configuration of technology will work best for that particular problem. Other factors to think about are the environments in which you need to operate. The size, shape, and types of materials of the things you want to locate. What is the ultimate scale of the project you are trying to address . What is location precision you require? Update rates needed on any items you locate and track and so on. Uwinloc can help you decide but if the conclusion is UWB, then the easiest way to get going with either Uwinloc’s fixed solution or its MahVis solution is to request a prove of value. Inevitably management will require a business case and the results of a POV will feed into this. Where you build the business case yourself or use Uwinloc’s serves team is up to you. MahVis as an example can be consumed as a LaaS (Location as a Service) offering and is a low-cost entry into the world of tracking assets and inventory?
46. Do you offer a Managed Services directly or Through Partners?
Notatthemoment,butsomeofourVAR’sarelookingtoofferthiskindof service in the near future but it will be dependant on market demand.
47. Who are your main deployment partners?
Uwinloc works with many national and Global value added resellers (VAR’s), Technical Partners and Systems Integrators (SI’s). See our partner page for details of who they. Please reach out to your in-region sales representative which can help broker a meeting or engage you directly with a relevant contact. Where customers have a specific preferred partner, Uwinloc would be happy to look to train such a partner through its training program or offer onsite hands on training if appropriate.