iBeacon for Logistics: A Use Case in Facilities, Asset, & Inventory Management

As it stands, logistical systems have traditionally relied on RFID technology for facilities, asset, and inventory management.  However, the release of iBeacon technology now presents a fruitful alternative for the industry, offering some significant advantages over traditional RFID.  For starters, beacon enabled systems can be read directly from any standard tablet or smartphone, eliminating the need to purchase more expensive hand-held readers.  Secondly, beacons operate on a widely accepted worldwide wireless standard, thus making them capable of worldwide operation immediately following deployment.  Lastly, beacons themselves are extremely affordable and painless to deploy.  Overall, beacons offer a novel opportunity for radical changes in daily operations for any logistical need.  Below I will outline just a few potential use cases of iBeacon for logistics.

ASSET TRACKING & SECURITY

iBeacon’s can be used to track valuable assets.  By simply attaching a BLE proximity beacon to every important asset you would like to track, such a valuable piece of hospital equipment, you can identify and monitor its location in real-time and collect other valuable metrics such as how often it is being used, by whom, and when.   In addition, beacons can be used to ensure proper security measures by knowing when items are handled and by whom, alerting administrators if secured assets have been improperly accessed.

REUSABLE CONTAINERS

Any business that deploys reusable containers, boxes, bags, crates, shipping pallets, etc. can benefit substantially from iBeacon technology.  By attaching a beacon to every reusable item, administrators are able to track not only their movement between facilities, but the flow of products and materials carried within.  Proper tracking of reusable containers is essential to ensure items make it to their allocated destination and serve to govern the entire process of moving raw materials, components, and completed products.

WORKS-IN-PROGRESS

Not only are beacons tremendously useful for tracking assets and materials, but can be used to successfully monitor any works in progress.  For instance a business dealing with repair and engineering can track the current state of any project such as where it is, what is being done, and who is completing each task.  This is useful to ensure staff accountability as well as enterprise efficiency in order to ensure works-in-progress are being properly completed in a timely fashion.  Often delays and mistakes are the result of improper communication and tracking systems.  Companies can now use beacons to monitor a job location, duration of each step, which employees are working on a given project, as well as retain a better estimate of time to completion.

INVENTORY CONTROL

Beacons are also a great low cost solution for inventory management.  With beacons you can track when items are received, put away, picked up, or shipped.  The entire process of inventory control can be automated at your fingertips, eliminating any need for manual counts and confirmations.

YARD MANAGEMENT

Businesses that deal with a constant flow of incoming and outgoing fleets of vehicles or equipment can utilize beacons to maintain real-time inventory control, tracking arriving and departing assets moving throughout a yard.  Administrators will be able to track exactly when an asset has been moved, returned, and by whom, streamlining activity within a housing facility.

LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT

Beacons can even be utilized by farmers who maintain large quantities of cattle.  A beacon placed around the neck of every animal can allow managers to track cattle movement, identify the location of each individual animal or a herd at large at any given time, as well as monitor the activity levels and behavioral pattern of each animal.