How Standardized Location-data is Revolutionizing Global Production
Guest blog by MHI Member Company, Omlox
A fundamental change has taken place in logistics and production processes over the past few years, resulting in the need for technological innovation. Managing and monitoring the movement of assets across supply chains is becoming increasingly mandatory for the success of large-scale projects.
It is imperative that businesses rely on reliable, seamless location data, as it allows them to consume fewer resources such as time, energy, materials, and costs when used efficiently. Thus, indoor localization demand is on the rise in logistics and production, leading to an exponential increase in real-time location system (RTLS) providers.
The Location Data Dilemma
Even though there are many technologies, solutions, and providers available on the market, no service is well-suited for all applications relevant to seamless positioning. Location tags, drones, AGVs, AMRs, and similar hardware from different vendors are not interchangeable, and the installed solution depends heavily on the flexibility and support of the vendor(s).
While some of these solutions may seem affordable initially, relying on a single vendor often means inflexibility and unpredictable costs for future upgrades. This situation leads to a vendor lock-in effect, as companies are restricted to proprietary solutions. This missing interoperability of technologies and vendors makes it clear that only an industry-wide standard can create an environment where components can be utilized in an effective and sustainable manner.
omlox – The Open Locating Standard
This market gap was quickly identified and a consortium of leading organizations was formed in 2018. Through close, constant collaboration, the consortium developed a new industry standard to facilitate the interoperability of hardware and software components, and to eliminate cross-integration limitations. In 2020, omlox – the world’s first open and interoperable locating standard – was launched to the public.
Omlox consists of three key components:
– omlox core zone – a zone defining an area with ultra-wideband (UWB) coverage that works in conjunction with open interfaces and guarantees interoperability. Organizations can easily network all omlox-compatible UWB products, regardless of the manufacturer.
– omlox complementary zones – zones defining all other locating technologies that are specified and standardized in other industry associations, such as RFID, Wi-Fi, BLE, 5G, GPS, etc.
– omlox hub – a locating middleware that harmonizes location data from any source (i.e. omlox zones). It transforms location data into standardized, global coordinates and provides it to any system or application via the standardized omlox hub API.
As a global positioning solution, omlox is able to integrate all technologies and it allows devices from different manufacturers to function in an open infrastructure. By providing full interoperability, omlox enables the integration of a lean management approach in logistics and production. Furthermore, it provides fast and flexible adaptability to market conditions or technological advances in manufacturing and to subsequent expansions and adjustments to a RTLS. Omlox does not replace business models of individual solutions; rather, it enables interoperability that results in clear added-value for customers.
Seamless Locating is Becoming Reality
The spectrum of applicable use cases is extensive, ranging from ultra-precise tracking of assets, strategic use of AR glasses for navigation, and seamless fleet management of automated guided vehicles and/or autonomous mobile robots (AGVs/AMRs). Historically, objects could only be tracked by a single RTLS or location provider at a time. Omlox has revolutionized this by allowing objects to be tracked by different RTLS and/or location providers simultaneously through a single API. A system can seamlessly, accurately, and reliably locate a trackable without worrying about the underlying location technology. Thus, additional locating technologies can be added in the future without having to overhaul the entire system.
With omlox, the end customer is able select the best module at any time, which can increase the effectiveness of the RTLS by over 40% and ensure availability of the optimal modularization up to almost 100%. As a result, RTLS providers do not have to offer a variety of applications and tags and can instead focus on the solution at its core.
Source: Scientific Research by TRUMPF Tracking Technologies GmbH in cooperation with Esslingen University of Applied Sciences (Germany).
Companies today are increasingly focused on sustainability in terms of efficient utilization of equipment and resources. The omlox standard enables a cost-effective framework for the integration of holistic and seamless tracking for all equipment, resources, and processes.
Support from Industry Giants
As a way of maintaining professional regulations and optimizing efficiency, the management and development of the standard is handled by PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI). Through PI, companies can connect with vendors, developers, system integrators, distributors, machine builders, and end users in all industries.
One of omlox’s greatest strengths is its vast ecosystem of partners, comprised of organizations from a variety of industries and business focuses. These range from system integrators, solution providers to hardware and software providers. Since its inception in 2020, omlox has gained international acclaim. With over 80 members internationally, the omlox ecosystem is rapidly growing and is supported by organizations, such as Siemens, TRUMPF, SICK, T-Systems and many more. Several of these companies are MHI members and have appreciated the significance of omlox from it’s inception.
Digitalization has been accelerating in the industry at an accelerated pace and is widely expected to accelerate even further in a post-pandemic world. However, most concepts can only be realized if there are affordable solutions.
Real-time locating with Omlox is paving the way for next-generation RTLS solutions, making Industry 4.0 a reality. Embracing the expertise and experience of several partner companies will allow the omlox standard to continue to evolve as an industry-changing force.
Organizations interested in joining the omlox network are welcome to join. To learn more about omlox and its community, please visit Omlox