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Maximizing the Digital Transformation with IoT and RTLS Integration

Updated: 4 days ago


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As the Digital Transformation sweeps across industries, experts project over 75 billion connected IoT devices by 2025. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to a network of smart devices that connect to the Internet and each other to share information and data. The proliferation of IoT devices has been a gamechanger for businesses across the board as they provide unprecedented amounts of real-time data enabling managers to make better, data-driven decisions leading to improved performance.


While IoT devices can provide information on what various pieces of machinery or other business assets are doing, a crucial piece of information is missing. The integration of real-time location systems (RTLS) serves as a supplement to IoT capabilities by showing where each asset is while it is collecting data. This is relevant in almost all industries - both B2B and B2C - especially as smart homes and smart cities become more popular. The combination of RTLS and IoT is of particular interest to industries such as manufacturing, shipping, and retail where there are many moving parts - including expensive machinery and inventory - to keep track of.


There’s no question that the integration of RTLS and IoT can provide companies with a competitive edge, but, as with any new technology, there are also challenges to overcome. In this article, we will explore the opportunities and challenges involved.


Why is IoT and RTLS Integration Important?

The data provided by IoT devices can improve efficiency and help save costs in numerous ways. For example, in a large manufacturing plant, IoT sensors can be attached to each piece of machinery offering detailed visibility into its performance. Managers can be instantly alerted to maintenance issues or potential bottlenecks and can take action swiftly before small problems turn into large ones.


But, what happens when the bottleneck is caused by a missing component? The IoT sensor on the machine informs factory managers that the machine is not operating at peak efficiency because it is waiting for a specific component. It cannot, however, tell the manager where that component is. RTLS, on the other hand, is specifically designed to do just that - to ensure that no component (or any asset) is lost or unaccounted for.


Using RTLS to identify the location of the component causing the bottleneck, the manager can quickly send an employee to get it and clear up the bottleneck. Taking it a step further, they can choose to relocate the entire stock of that component to somewhere closer to the machinery to prevent similar issues in the future.


The combination of IoT and RTLS allows for:

  • Increased data visibility - the manager can identify not only which machine or part of the process is causing a bottleneck, but also the exact location of the specific component that is needed to solve the problem.

  • Better decision-making - this information can be used to make decisions as to where to store components so that they are easily accessible and close to the relevant machinery.

  • Improved efficiency - by solving the bottleneck, the production process can run more efficiently.


While the above is an example specific to the manufacturing industry, the same principles can be applied to a wide variety of industries.


Opportunities Afforded by IoT and RTLS Integration

Any industry that deals with a significant number of assets that need to get from point A to point B stands to benefit from the combination of IoT and RTLS. Whether it’s a shipping company that needs to know exactly where packages are at any given time, or a retail establishment tracking its products along the entire supply chain, the following are some of the key benefits that can be gained:

Enhanced Data Insights

With one integrated system, managers can have a holistic view of the entire operation. IoT sensors can provide details on the efficacy of each piece of machinery or other equipment, while RTLS devices show where each item is located and any path it may travel.

Improved Operational Efficiency

RTLS can be used to track human employees in addition to inanimate objects. Combining the knowledge of where personnel are located in a warehouse, for example, with the IoT data on equipment and how it is being used can lead to better time and resource management. Enabling both machinery and humans to operate at peak efficiency means a boost in productivity and bottom line.

Better Customer Experience

A shipping company, for example, may use IoT devices to keep track of orders and help process them. Adding an RTLS solution means knowing exactly where an order is even once it has left the warehouse, no matter where it is on its journey. Anticipating potential delays means addressing issues promptly and ensuring customer deliveries on time.

Innovative Business Models

The detailed insights and information that a business can gain from the integration of IoT and RTLS will give them the knowledge-boost needed to consider new ways to approach their market. Automating processes, increasing efficiency and reducing costs opens the door to new opportunities and provides the agility needed to try new methods.


Challenges in IoT and RTLS Integration

While there are many benefits to integrating IoT and RTLS, the process is not challenge-free. There are a number of hurdles that businesses do need to overcome, including:

Interoperability

Interoperability refers to the ability of disparate systems to be able to connect and share data with each other. Because both IoT and RTLS devices may be created using a variety of different platforms, it is not a given that they will be able to communicate with each other.


According to McKinsey, the IoT world is “dominated by fragmented, proprietary, supplier-specific ecosystems.” If devices are not able to share information with each other, the impact on a company is limited, as it is unable to retrieve the actionable data it needs for the full benefit.


The solution to the interoperability challenge is a common framework and standardized communication protocols shared by all developers of IoT and RTLS devices. Until this happens on a large-scale, companies need to be careful when choosing solutions to ensure that they are all able to work with and communicate with each other.

Scalability

Many IoT and RTLS solutions each come with their own infrastructure requirements. It can be a costly endeavor the more a company wants to scale their IoT and RTLS deployments if they need to continuously invest in the infrastructure.


In addition, the more the solution is scaled and the more widespread its use, the more prominent other challenges become including issues of data security (described below) and integration (described above).

Data Security and Privacy

With every additional device that connects to the Internet, there is a new opportunity for a hacker to gain access. This is an especially high risk for companies that are not necessarily used to using a wide array of technology and therefore may not be as attuned to the dangers.


In addition to the fear of cybercriminals using connected devices as an opening into all of a company’s systems, there is also the risk of privacy and data leaks. Among all of the data collected and stored by IoT devices can be personal and financial information about customers or employees, which must be protected against potential leaks.

Integration Complexity

Most businesses use a number of different systems for various purposes and it’s important to be able to integrate the IoT and RTLS devices with these existing systems in order to derive the full benefit. This process, however, can be technically difficult, especially when dealing with older legacy systems that may not have the same technological capabilities.


There are solutions designed to ease the integration challenge, including the use of APIs (application programming and interface) and Middleware. These are tools used by developers to gather and transfer data from one application to another, allowing different components to interact with each other regardless of how each was coded. This is how information gets from a device to an online dashboard, for example.


Deeyook Easily Integrates with Other IoT Solutions

Deeyook is an RTLS solution that “plays nicely” with existing IoT devices and other systems. Using advanced technology, Deyook offers precise real-time location tracking in any environment and is designed to overcome many of the challenges inherent in the integration of IoT and RTLS.


Because it relies on the existing WiFi infrastructure with no costly hardware, Deeyook is easily scalable as needed. As a middleware solution, it easily integrates and communicates with a huge range of other platforms, making it simple for companies to add Deeyook to their existing toolbox.


The combination of IoT and RTLS can be very powerful for companies, especially in industries like manufacturing, retail and logistics, but it must be done smartly in order to avoid the challenges.


Contact Deeyook to learn how RTLS can benefit your company.

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