a speaking entity thanks to beacon devices
Beacons are small wireless transmitters with low energy consumption, thanks to a Bluetooth Low Energy, BLE, or Bluetooth 4.0 connection. They can signal their presence to devices such as smartphones or tablets with a dedicated beacon-ready application. This new type of hardware is currently used to provide information or multimedia content to retail shops, museums, private houses and key parts of cities such as airports or train stations.
But what will it happen if beacon devices are installed inside factories and plants?
What would be the added value derived from their use?
In terms of the Internet of Things, the installation of beacon devices within the production plants would enhance M2M, Machine-to-Machine, connectivity, because it would allow all the tools inside the factory to talk directly to each other and to communicate data on themselves to any smartphone and tablet in the neighborhood.
By installing beacon devices directly on the equipment, the operators may receive through their tablets information about:
- equipment management, through the transmission of tooling and maintenance instructions for pieces of equipment;
- production progress, acquiring automatically and in real time the data recorded by the sensors on the equipment;
- history of stops and microstops;
- plant monitoring in real time.
Furthermore beacon devices, thanks to the Bluetooth 4.0 technology, can be used for applications of micro-location and proximity even in closed environments where the classical GPS would be inaccurate. This allows you then to map the entire production area and strengthen the system of traceability of company resources.
With push notifications sent by beacon devices each operator may in fact:
- retrace the entire production of finished products by accessing its production data (master data providers, information on raw materials, treatments performed, values ??recorded during the quality control…);
- know the exact location of any material resource in the company (containers used during processing, equipment, raw materials, semi-finished products …).
The use of beacon devices within production departments could allow an improvement in the level of safety in the workplace. Running beacon-ready applications also allow you to record the movements of users in physical space covered by beacons. In this way when the beacon devices detect the presence of people within hazardous areas nearby, such as moving vehicles or industrial machinery, it can alert potentially affected people by sending push notifications.
To encourage the spread of this technology within manufacturing companies, AEC Soluzioni srl has developed a software platform, jpiano®, able to communicate with:
- iBeacon, beacon devices that send to other devices push notifications related to the physical environment in which they are installed;
- UriBeacon, beacon devices that refer directly to a website by sending URL address. This open source project, launched by Google, is available on the platform Github.