1. What are the biggest challenges in tracking forklifts in a warehouse or factory?
Kaiser: The answer is quite clear: the choice of technology or the technology mix.
An associated challenge is the creation of an area-wide tracking infrastructure for the areas in which industrial trucks need to be tracked and controlled.
2. How does an RTLS with RFID and UWB help to overcome these challenges? What features of these technologies make them particularly suitable for industrial use?
The solution for seamless monitoring lies in the clever combination of RFID and RTLS systems. RAIN RFID systems are the solution of choice for identification for many companies. The simple reading when passing by and the low-cost transponders are to be mentioned as an advantage here.
In addition, with staggered RFID reading gates in the transition to the warehouse or production, the route of the forklifts can be tracked and captured in the respective zone.
For a more precise localization of forklifts and goods, an RTLS system based on UWB can be added. Kathrein's systems work together perfectly in this process.
Where rough, zone-based detection is sufficient, RFID is used. In those areas where more precise detection is required, the RFID data is married to the RTLS transponder. From there, the RTLS transponder can be read with the existing RFID infrastructure, and at the same time, the exact XY coordinates are captured via the RTL system. Kathrein has already proven that RFID and RTLS are suitable for industrial use in a large number of applications.
End Users for RTLS
3. Which companies or industries could benefit most from the implementation of an RTLS for forklift tracking?
Kaiser: The Kathrein K-RTLS can bring its advantages to almost all material and production flow applications in which goods, load carriers or other assets such as industrial trucks or tools are to be localized and where the elimination of search times is the top priority.
This is because search times account for approximately 5–10 percent of daily tasks. With 10 employees in the warehouse, this amounts to one employee being exclusively occupied with searching. The costs that this generates are eliminated with K-RTLS, so that the ROI in typical applications is achieved within 12–15 months.
4. What challenges can arise when implementing an RTLS system, and how can they be overcome?
Real-time location systems must be highly flexible so that they can be easily integrated into existing systems and infrastructures and so that the installation effort remains low in terms of the ROI. For many customers, this is what makes installation possible in the first place.
The Kathrein RTLS offers the POE (Power over Ethernet) option. To keep installation costs low, the nodes (anchor points) can be supplied with power via Ethernet. This cuts the connection costs in half.
Another challenge is the positioning accuracy required in each case. Flexibility and dynamics in the system are also necessary here, in order to optimize battery runtimes. Kathrein Solutions has therefore integrated three technologies in the RTLS transponder: UWB positioning, RFID identification and NFC communication.
This means that the existing infrastructure and devices such as RFID readers or NFC handheld devices can be used. The cost savings are obvious. Furthermore, three locating modes are available; a highly dynamic location mode to locate forklifts, a high-precision location mode for goods in the warehouse, and a location mode for outdoor objects.
When planning RTLS projects, these combination and configuration options are crucial for developing efficient and future-oriented project concepts.
Advantages of RTLS Solutions
5. What advantages does RTLS offer compared to other logistics and warehouse management solutions?
Kaiser: The advantages of an RTL system are obvious. Compared to a pure RFID solution, RTLS can provide a more precise detection of objects such as forklifts. At the same time, this wireless monitoring can be used more flexibly because the detection is independent of a specific reading point in the area.
Location systems based on mobile radio, WLAN or Bluetooth do offer advantages over UWB in individual points. However, when considering the overall requirements of logistics and warehouse management applications, a UWB RTLS offers the greatest advantage and enormous flexibility, especially in combination with RFID systems.
6. How can an RTLS for forklift tracking help improve workplace safety?
Security is one of the most important requirements for a logistics and warehouse management system. With the help of the Kathrein K-RTLS, for example, a so-called HeadMap can be created.
Here, the movement history of the forklifts is recorded for each day in order to recognize, for example, where hotspots of forklift movements occur. Traffic at crossings or encounters between pedestrians and forklifts can be precisely identified in this way. Based on the data, the maximum permitted speed of the forklifts can then be automatically reduced in high-frequency zones or a general rerouting can be initiated.
Active tracking is possible for forklifts and people. When a forklift meets a forklift or when a forklift meets a person, the speed can in turn be slowed down or the warning horn of the forklift can be triggered remotely.
For these solutions, Kathrein supplies the fundamental HW/SW components to partners, who will use them to offer the described complete solutions for forklifts with the comprehensive safety features.
When considering the overall requirements of logistics and warehouse management applications, a UWB RTLS offers the greatest advantage and enormous flexibility, especially in combination with RFID systems.
Security is one of the most important requirements for a logistics and warehouse management system.