BLE locating via app in practice: convincing flexibility and more transparency
Bordesholm, November 7, 2021
Due to increasingly complex processes, ever accelerating transshipment rate and competitive pressure, the need for IT solutions for a completely transparent supply chain is growing in the logistics industry. In this context, tracking technology has become an indispensable control instrument, both in the form of tracking on the road and in large indoor spaces, such as logistics halls. In addition to UWB (Ultra-Wideband), the previous industry standard for indoor positioning, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) tracking, and especially the tagless variant, is gaining popularity.
Bluetooth-based indoor positioning is able to deliver reliable and precise results comparable to the performance of other positioning technologies.
The decisive plus for logistics with tagless BLE technology lies in the hardware: the transponders (or tags), normally mounted on the scanners, are no longer necessary with this solution. Instead, a BLE app is installed on the scanners, which takes over the task of the tags.
Video management with indoor location offering numerous advantages
In enclosed spaces, positioning can develop its full potential especially when used in combination with a video management system.
This way, a single shipment can not only be reliably located among hundreds or thousands of other packages, but can also be clearly identified in the camera image. In this way, a quick entry into visual consignment research is possible with one click. The video management system provides all the necessary information about the consignment and the condition of the goods is immediately visible in the camera image.
The positive effects are reflected both in cost and resource savings as well as in a more positive perception of service quality. In addition, liability risks can be reduced and communication with all parties involved in the process can be optimised.
Video management systems with indoor localisation merge into the logistical hall workflow without interruption. For example, no double scans are necessary in the workflow for the assignment of relation and scanner. In solutions without location, this is usually necessary to clearly assign the camera images to the packages.
Via the scanner location, the software automatically records the position data of the consignment and combines this in the background with further data from different connected systems.
The positive effects are reflected both in cost and resource savings as well as in a more positive perception of service quality.
This information is not only used to ensure complete traceability of the consignment's path through the hall. It can also be used to uncover further cost optimisation potential in the company.
Shorter loading times through accelerated processes
Waiting and loading times for drivers are shortened through accelerated processes and improved communication, while warehouse staff are relieved in their day-to-day work by the facilitated location of missing consignments. Thanks to the flexibility in expansion of the scanner equipment, it is possible to respond quickly to fluctuating resource requirements in the company. Thanks to the complete traceability of their packages, customers can be sure that these will reliably reach their destination.
The protection of employees' privacy is also easy to ensure in the video management system. With the precise entry into the search via scan times, the viewing of long video sequences and thus the otherwise difficult-to-avoid observation of employees is no longer necessary.
The software only displays the image material that is relevant for the consignment search.
Location+ add-on integrates indoor location into the video management solution from DIVIS
For the integration of Location+ with tagless BLE technology, no transmitters (tags) are necessary on the scanners.
This is how scanner location works:
When a shipment is scanned, Location+ records the current position data of the scanner. This is automatically linked to other relevant shipment information, such as the scan data from the Transport Management System (TMS) and the video data recorded by the cameras. The scanning stages can then be retraced using the video images. To do this, employees only need to enter the shipment number in the software.
For the integration of Location+ with tagless BLE technology, no transmitters (tags) are necessary on the scanners. Position transmission is handled by an app developed by DIVIS that is installed on the scanners. This not only saves on the purchase of the tags.
Ongoing costs for maintenance and repairs of the parts are also eliminated. New scanners, even from different areas (drivers, warehouses), can be flexibly integrated into the tracking infrastructure at a later time, cheaply and, above all, quickly: just install the BLE app - done! By the way, this app is also compatible with applications for Mobile Device Management (MDM).
Proven in practice
Location+ with BLE locating from DIVIS at Mannheimer Transport-Gesellschaft Bayer GmbH
At Mannheimer Transport-Gesellschaft Bayer GmbH (MTG), Location+ with tagless BLE location has already been successfully in use for some time. The system optimises the logistical processes here and makes the consignment route through the hall transparent and traceable.
The Mannheim-based company has relied on DIVIS products since 2007, including the Location+ module. Accordingly, several generations of location solutions have been in use in the meantime and can be easily compared in retrospect. Before the switch to the tagless BLE variant, it was used with tags. When an overhaul of the previous tracking technology was due recently, there was no question that the tagless BLE tracking from DIVIS would be the best choice.
Uwe Bayer, Managing Director of Mannheimer Transport-Gesellschaft Bayer GmbH, explains this step: "Although we were very satisfied with the reliability of the previous tracking solution, maintenance and repairs of the scanner tags remained an ongoing expense. When DIVIS presented the new technology without tags, we were immediately convinced."
A total of 64 locators were installed on the ceiling. These were precisely measured and aligned, enabling smooth, accurate positioning.
"Although we were very satisfied with the reliability of the previous tracking solution, maintenance and repairs of the scanner tags remained an ongoing expense. When DIVIS presented the new technology without tags, we were immediately convinced."
Managing Director of Mannheimer Transport-Gesellschaft Bayer GmbH
Initially the company wanted to use the existing logistics hardware with the new BLE solution. Therefore, all BLE-compatible Android scanners were equipped with the BLE app from DIVIS. For scanner management, the Mobile Device Management (MDM) of our long-term partner TIS GmbH was integrated, which, among other things, ensures the automatic start of the BLE app and thus the uninterrupted signal transmission.
All of the existing scanners that did not meet the minimum requirements for the app received BLE tags. These tags are very affordable. Compared to UWB tags, the cost difference is almost 90%.
With this concept the BLE solution was fully operational from the start.
In the meantime, the company has also completed the planned switch to the new, tagless scanner generation. Thanks to the BLE app and MDM, this transition also went smoothly und quickly.
At the Mannheim-based transport company Bayer GmbH, everyone is satisfied with the tagless BLE tracking. Uwe Bayer says: "With tagless BLE tracking, we have flexible and future-proof technology that increases both efficiency and productivity in our company. The visual representation of the scanned consignments enables a clear allocation of goods. The visualisation of the scanning area in the camera images greatly facilitates orientation.
Scanner requirements for the BLE app
- Android version: at least version 5.0 (Lollipop) API: 21
- Bluetooth: min. Bluetooth version 4.0 (and BLE-enabled chip*)
*If you have any questions about the compatibility of your equipment, please contact us. We will be happy to inform you.
With the new tracking system, our processes are easier to control, faster and more transparent. Our customers also notice this."
Advantages of a video management system with indoor localisation at a glance
System works automatically in the background (thanks to scanner location, no double scans and thus no additional process steps necessary)
Knowledge of time/date or hall area not necessary
Visualisation of the location result in the image
through visualisation of the scan area
Different viewing angles are available due to multiple cameras.
through targeted search access via scan times
Added value for everyone through video management with tagless BLE location
The added value provided by Location+ with tagless BLE location starts with the shipment handling, extends through various departments in the company and finally reaches the customer.
Especially for use in logistical environments with a large number of scanners to be located, app-based BLE location is a technology with promising prospects. The high flexibility and robustness in harsh logistics environments due to the elimination of tags are good prerequisites for its further development and continued growth in popularity.
With the switch to tagless BLE tracking, the Mannheim-based transport company Bayer GmbH has therefore opted for a future-proof solution in the field of video technology.