What does geolocation mean?
Any type of technology that can identify a geographic location is a Geolocation technology. By locating an associated device in real time, it is feasible to locate an asset, for example a good or a semi-finished product in a warehouse plant.
Different technologies allow to define the actual assets geographic location. It is possible to use one geolocation technology or to combine different ones, especially in an industrial setting, in order to improve operational efficiency.
Let’s now see some types of geolocation technologies.
GPS – Global Positioning System
The GPS is a satellite-based radio navigation system consisting of approximately thirty satellites orbiting the Earth. It was developed initially for military purposes but it is now widespread used.
• Accurate outdoor positioning (up to five meters)
• Works everywhere outdoors
• No infrastructure required
• High energy use
• Often interrupted by weather-related situations
• Does not work indoors
BLE – Bluetooth Low Energy
Bluetooth is mainly designed for communicating over short distances, approximately ten meters.
Its’ latest version, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is making big strides in geolocation and positioning.
• Accurate indoor/outdoor (depending on infrastructure)
• Low energy use (1/15th of GPS)
• Minimal wireless infrastructure required
CONS: Access to Bluetooth required
Wi-Fi is a family of radio technologies commonly used for wireless local area networking (WLAN) of devices. These are networks of devices that connect to a specific radio frequency, usually 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz, who transfers data over radio waves for a range up to a hundred meters.
• Accurate (depending on availability)
• Low energy use (1/10th of GPS)
• Might require paid service or known local infrastructure network
• Network-based geolocation
• Location can also be determined by using a service provider’s network infrastructure. The accuracy of network-based techniques can vary. This is both depending on the concentration of base stations and the implementation of the most up-to-date timing methods.
Furthermore, there are other technologies such as the RFID and the BEACON tags.
The RFID works through an antenna – fixed or mobile – and a tag, which communicate in radiofrequency. The tag is a chip that, pushed by an RFID reader, activates an exchange of data.
The Beacon allows the automatic asset mapping within a limited area. Unlike the NFC Tag, it sends signals to all the devices in its range of action.
These two technologies can be useful for different purposes both in Logistics and in Manufacturing. In fact, except for Geolocation, these can be used for asset Tracking and Traceability, for the Picking, and many more reasons.
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