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Using Location Technology in the Supply Chain

What is Location Technology?

Location technology is still relatively new but it has faced an emergence in mainstream applications over the past decade. Many technologies fall under the location umbrella including GPS and RFID, which have already gained popularity. Location technologies are ones that can simply transmit data regarding an item’s location or position. RTLS, or real-time locationing systems, seems to be the next technology that will face increased adoption, with a projected CAGR of 25% between 2018 and 2026.

Like RFID, RTLS can also be used to track equipment and assets. However, RTLS is a more precise system that actually incorporates active RFID for real-time data. Whereas passive RFID systems would only notify you when assets move through a stationed portal or checkpoint.


RTLS systems start with active RFID tags that can transmit data as frequently as desired, even up to the second for true real-time data. An RTLS facilitates communication between tags and back-end systems to create advanced insights and data for managers. Unlike standard RFID  systems, RTLS can provide robust data such as the location, condition, timing, accuracy, and speed of the events occurring throughout an organization’s daily operations.

While passive RFID may be good for inventory tracking and monitoring work-in-process, RTLS achieves greater visibility of assets across multiple networks and throughout entire enterprises.

Location Technology in the Supply Chain

In the supply chain quantity and timing mean everything. Consequently, location solutions have made real-time data more obtainable, making the value chain completely visible to decision-makers looking to streamline operations and increase productivity. As a result, supply chains can easily implement predictive analytics that helps them refine performance and boost productivity. RTLS can be a critical tool for managers whether it’s inbound or outbound logistics. A location system can be your eye in the sky for tracking raw materials, work-in-process, inventory levels, and fleet management. There are many applications for RTLS including: Zebra RTLS

  • Vehicle tracking
  • Asset tracking
  • Inventory
  • ERP
  • Employee tracking
  • Environment Monitoring

Benefit from Location Technolgy in the Supply Chain

Using RFID, and more specifically RTLS, in the supply chain gives managers robust data for actionable insights. Location technology can help managers be more accurate with delivery points, routes, and managing vehicle fleets. Additionally, RTLS gives supply chains precise data to alter plans on the fly if needed. Not only can RTLS help identify lag time and areas for improvement, but it also helps lower operating costs with detailed and optimal transportation routes. An effective RTLS system helps value chains illuminate the daily events involving assets, people, and actions in real time, giving organizations the blueprint to become more efficient in an industry where optimization is key.

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