3D RTLS and Geofencing: New Features for Asset Tracking

Our engineering team is working non-stop to extend CVO Platform with new features – both software and hardware.

The next major features to be released soon in August – geofencing and 3D RTLS. We keep observing a huge demand from our customers in this space, especially in the industrial markets, so we decided to focus our R&D efforts on these features.

Let’s analyze the background of use cases and associated business needs before diving into the technical details.

What is geofencing and its typical use cases?

Geofencing is about triggering events, such as e-mail alerts or SMS alerts, when a tracked objects enters or exits a configured zone (e.g. room inside a facility). In addition to “On Enter” and “On Exit” rules the geofencing triggers can be configured with “On Dwell” rule, which is about maximum time for staying within a configured zone.

So what are the typical use cases?

  • Better time management for onsite staff – employee clocking in-out inside offices, factories, warehouses etc. Your time management tools are extended with finer-grained location data and timestamps.

  • Better safety in hazardous environments, such as oil&gas facilities, underground mines or warehouses with chemicals – trigger alerts when somebody enters dangerous zones or spends more time than allowed (maximum dwell time).

  • Better security and role-based authorization – you can configure role-level or group-level entry permissions per zone, which are checked upon “Enter”, “Exit” or “Dwell” geofencing events.

  • Geofence-based analytics – in addition to triggering alerts, such as e-mails or SMS, all geofencing records are placed into Leantegra Data Warehouse for querying and reporting purposes. You can configure the widgets for analytics using the same dashboard in CVO Portal.

Basically geofencing is the feature, which brings more sense to RTLS from the perspective of real-time monitoring with less efforts. No need to check the location data on RTLS Dashboard of CVO Portal – you just configure rules and triggers for the needed notifications. That’s it.

It is also very important to stress that the geofencing events are stored as the database records, which can be accessed via REST API or direct SQL queries.

How 3D RTLS works and what kind of business benefits are enabled?

At first, 3D RTLS is supported with UWB RTLS setup only. At this stage we don’t support any 3D RTLS for BLE, which is more suitable for 2D tracking and zone-level tracking.

The main use case for Z or “Height” parameter in RTLS data comes from warehousing, where pallets might be placed on several levels or shelves. Searching for the right shelf also takes time, especially when forklifts or ladders are needed for elevating workers to the upper shelves.

Climbing to the topmost shelf just to discover that you “missed it” is a very stressful issue. Sometimes you might need to climb several times before discovering the right item in your warehouse.

Time saving is a crucial benefit of RTLS-based solutions, so “Height” information is really important to minimize the search times and the “climbing attempts” 🙂

Another scenario comes from the space of employee safety inside factories. When your workers need to climb on any equipment or vehicles it becomes important to notify other (relevant) employees to prevent injuries or life-threatening situations. An employee might climb on a crane, truck, production conveyor or storage container for maintenance purposes. Other employees might not be aware of this situation, while trying to operate such equipment / vehicles.

Process visibility, situational awareness and search times can be definitely improved with 3D RTLS solutions.

Now speaking about the technical details for 3D RTLS and geofencing – here is a short Q&A for these features:

  1. How many RTLS anchors are needed for 3D RTLS? – Answer: at least 3 anchors are needed for 3D RTLS, but more anchors will enable a better accuracy.

  2. What’s the maximum amount of location tags per zone for the case of 3D RTLS? – Answer: for the case of UWB RTLS it can be several thousand per zone, depends upon more specific requirements.

  3. How exactly 3D RTLS data is presented and rendered? – Answer: REST API and minor UI changes in CVO Portal, but we will not have “3D Graphics” on RTLS Dashboard or “Trackables” pages. We will show “Height” parameter for each tracked asset or location tag.

  4. Which changes in CVO Portal will appear for geofencing? – Answer: There will be the new software module and menu section called “Geofencing”.

  5. Which geofencing alerts will be supported in the next release in August? – Answer: Triggering database records and e-mail notifications will be implemented in the next release in August. SMS alerts can be easily configured via “e-mail to SMS” forwarding services.

  6. Which API can be used for getting the geofencing records? – Answer: a simple REST API function can be used for fetching the needed geofencing records, to be published soon.

  7. What about the mobile SDK for Android and SDK? Will they support geofencing for the mobile apps and BLE beacons? – Answer: No, at this stage geofencing will not work with smartphones and the mobile SDK. UWB RTLS and BLE RTLS based on the location tags (e.g. WiBeat BLE) will be supported for geofencing.

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