More providers of industrial mobile devices have embraced solutions for real-time data capture and put more attention on software in recent years. Vendors generally recognise that bar code data collection and some human triggered scanning of passive RFID tags remain vital to supply chains, even while technologies like ultrawideband (UWB) and Bluetooth Low Energy beacons can enable new types of real-time locating system (RTLS) solutions.
Research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the worldwide RTLS market will grow from just under US$3.2bn in 2018 to US$8.79bn in 2023, representing 22.5 per cent compound annual growth.
Some warehouses could benefit from technology such as UWB. Unlike traditional bar code scanning with handhelds, today’s edge technologies can pull in data without human intervention. The newer edge technologies also deliver a near real-time stream of data to reveal the position of goods or assets, rather than a point-in-time data grab. That may sound great, but vendors point out that multiple factors need to be considered in sorting through this next-generation technology, including edge hardware and infrastructure costs, how much precision is really needed, the value of the assets and goods to be tracked, and perhaps above all, the software capabilities needed to use the data.