Beacons as a tracking solution


Beacons as a Tracking Solution

It is no secret that beacon technology has lately gained significant momentum. Just yesterday we were, again, Business Partners of the Beacon Summit in Munich, where beacon experts from IT and retail industry shared their use cases and discussed how the little gadgets can and will significantly change the customer journey. But the questions remain – Do they add real value yet? How are they put to best use? Let‘s investigate some use cases that move away from the classic case of customer interaction creation: Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) battery beacons as smart asset management solutions.

What is asset management and how do beacons add value? Smart asset management is a beacon technology solution that provides real-time information about the location of any asset or device. Asset tracking is therefore key to optimizing asset availability, reliability and efficiency, by minimizing asset failures, down-time and stock-outs. Beacon technology is a very efficient way for successful asset tracking solutions for the following reasons: they are affordable, they operate worldwide and they are easy to install – they simply need to be attached to the item that needs to be tracked.

Case 1: E-commerce warehousing – Inventory management

It is essential for the business success of e-commerce players to have tight control over their inventory at all times. Keeping track of the flow of goods is key to delivering excellent customer service, increasing customer satisfaction and retention. With beacon technology it is now possible to track the entire journey of the goods to be sold: when and where they are received, stocked, picked up, as well as delivered. Order coordination and monitoring of order processing can be centrally automated and reporting is accessible on any standard tablet, mobile or desktop device.

Case 2: Hospital equipment – Asset security

Hospital equipment is often highly valuable. Thus, it is essential to keep track of its whereabouts. By simply attaching Bluetooth beacons to the focus assets that need to be tracked, their exact location can be monitored in real-time. Information about location and time can then be matched with additional important data, for example information about how often it is used and by which staff members. Thereby, asset security is ensured through constant monitoring.

Case 3: Asset Production – Lean manufacturing

Production has largely been moved to low-wage countries in order to cut costs. Consequently, major price competitions and an increase in quality requirements have developed in Europe and North America. Lean manufacturing has become the solution for counteracting these trends, which will continue as globalization progresses (Roland Berger). The core of lean manufacturing is ensuring highest quality and service standards while keeping costs low and this is where the advantage of BLE beacons come to play: monitoring the process and status of manufacturing parts at low cost. Important information generated from tracking are, for example, the specific task station that a focus item is located at, at any point in time, whether the item has successfully completed a task station in time, or whether the work-in-progress has delays and thus interrupts the entire part manufacturing process. Having a detailed and precise overview of the status of individual process steps enables managers to better estimate the time to completion and provides the opportunity to spot areas for improvement, such as the arrangement of job locations, the duration of single processes, as well as staffing schedules. Ultimately the entire production process can be monitored in real-time, flexibly adjusted and optimized, ensuring highest quality and service standards at all times.

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