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EP 174: Zebra and RTLS

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Kevin Lawton

In this episode, I was joined by John Wirthlin of Zebra Technologies to discuss RTLS. John is the Industry Principal of Manufacturing, Transportation, and Logistics at Zebra. We discuss real-time location services (RTLS), their impact on the warehousing space, and how the technology can be utilized.

Key Takeaways

  • RTLS or real-time location services is a location-based technology that allows you to understand where all your assets are in your operation. It takes into account your inventory, material handling equipment, and even people. This technology can be used in many powerful ways which John goes in-depth with. From dock door optimization to location-based inventory counting there are many ways that this type of technology can help you operate more efficiently.
  • One of the things that John discusses is how RTLS can help your operation to optimize the pick walk. Instead of relying on a typical way of weaving through your aisles in a serpentine fashion, RTLS can give the best pick options based on location and also based on what is happening around the picker like robotics or other machinery. A great example of how this can work is if a truck is delayed then the system can push those orders out further in the picking queue and move others up in priority. Additionally, John explains how this technology is utilized in the NFL to track some of the very detailed stats we see on TV and that coaches use for training.
  • When it comes to the future of RTLS, John discusses how the accuracy will increase to being able to identify the location of items through different devices. Currently, with passive tags, you can get within two to three feet of accuracy on where something is and with active tags, you can get even closer. However, the pricing of active tags is much higher so currently, it makes sense to utilize for higher dollar assets only. As time goes on and the adoption rate increases then prices of these tags will most likely come down. Additionally, Zebra is coupling this technology with their fulfillment edge that is really simplifying the screens that pickers are seeing on devices. I know from a personal demo that this edging product is truly simplifying what you see and really the only information you need as a picker.

Listen to the episode below and let us know your thoughts on RTLS in the comments.

The New Warehouse Podcast

EP 174: Zebra and RTLS