Close this search box.

The Role of RTLS in Improving Warehouse Efficiency and Inventory Management

Nikita Liu | RTLS
Nikita Liu

The warehouse is a facility for storing goods before their sale or distribution, as well as handling assets and personnel management, which includes a variety of complex processes and operations. It is becoming more common for some to become high-velocity distribution centres (DC), including three significant components: goods, operation equipment, and staff, which usually move between goods, warehouse floor and different warehouses. Tracking and managing them often requires substantial time and labour.

In the rapidly developing industry, the ever-expanding amount of goods, intricacy, and company size lead to tremendous pressure to optimize related operations, such as improving equipment utilization, managing valuable assets, reducing workforce waste, increasing safety, etc. Industry 4.0, combining digital and physical systems in warehouses provides competitive advantages to the way that goods are moved, warehoused, and distributed.

Among a range of connected technologies of Industry 4.0, like visual picking, adaptive robots, and connected automated guided vehicles (AGVs), RTLS in warehouses provides a valid solution to track assets and personnel in real time and functions as a foundation of Industry 4.0. This article will study this technology and how it improves efficiency and inventory management.

What is RTLS?

RTLS stands for the real-time location system, also called real-time tracking systems, an autonomous IoT-based system to help identify and locate people or assets and track their real-time movements indoors. Although different technologies may expand different devices based on this basic set of systems, RTLS combines tags attached to objects and specific receivers fixed somewhere to receive the transmitted information and then determine the location. Meanwhile, RTLS can be conveniently integrated with the infrastructure and other IoT systems and provide detailed analytics for companies to ensure efficient management.

Therefore, the transmitted data may include:

  • Identification, real-time location, state, movement trajectory, and work time of goods, equipment and staff.
  • The exact time of the transmitting signal.
  • Environmental data, such as humidity, temperature, etc.

How to Improve Efficiency and Inventory Management in the Warehouse?

Based on the above data, RTLS plays a role in the following aspects:

  • Increasing visibility, traceability, and accuracy of goods and inventory

RTLS make goods and inventory visible and traceable in the warehouse, not only because it reveals real-time positioning data helping locate the items, but also because it presents stock level, stockouts, overstock states, replenishment, and other real-time insights based on real-time location data, and distinct information and identification of goods and inventory.

  • Accelerating picking rates and saving time

The precise real-time location of each item enables more agile order picking due to locating both in horizontal and vertical coordinates (x, y, and z coordinates). Besides, the real-time condition or states of assets can be displayed along with location data. Thus, warehouse staff will receive the most detailed instructions on specific items and retrieve things most effectively to decrease picking errors.

  • Tracking and managing equipment

Tracking and managing equipment like pallet jacks, order pick forklifts, side loader forklifts, automated guided vehicles, cranes, platform trucks, etc., guarantees that these assets operate in the right place, reducing unnecessary loss or misplacement.

  • Optimizing workflow

RTLS simplifies receiving, picking, and shipping procedures into essential and accurate steps from acceptance to dispatch. Workers can track the location and status of goods, minimizing operational inaccuracies and manual errors.

In addition, RTLS realizes the dynamic distribution of workforce and equipment in the warehouse based on practical demands through real-time resource consumption data and navigates them to the assigned position.

At the same time, digitalized workflow allows the management level to detect and tackle workflow obstacles prospectively through monitoring goods and personnel.

  • Ensuring safety and security

Besides optimizing workflow, RTLS also improves warehouse efficiency in assigning geo fences or unauthorized areas that prevent access to dangerous areas by monitoring the real-time movement of staff or equipment. On the other hand, RTLS tags can be equipped with a particular function that alarms staff in dangerous situations and detects workers in mustering.

  • Interoperating with other IoT technologies

The complexity of the warehouse environment and the different environmental requirements of various goods require warehouse monitoring of ecological data strictly, which respectively refers to abundant IoT devices. At the same time, RTLS is flexible enough to integrate with different IoT systems to achieve air quality monitoring, temperature and humidity monitoring, and other indexes.

What Technology are used for RTLS in the warehouse?

Many technologies can realize RTLS in the warehouse, depending on different actual demands. The most commonly used technologies are Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE), Ultra-wideband (UWB), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and Wi-Fi.

Bluetooth® Low Energy

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) uses 2.4GHz unlicensed ISM frequencies to transmit data over 40 channels at extremely low power. Although initially renowned for its device communications capabilities, Bluetooth is increasingly used as a device positioning technology to meet the growing demand for highly accurate indoor location services with an accuracy of 0.5m.

In BLE-based RTLS, position coordinates will be calculated from signals sent by transmitters to receivers by transmitters. There are at least four components that make up a complete set of BLE-based RTLS equipment: the transmitter, the receiver, a calculation engine, and an integrated platform.

As tags for inventory or staff, BLE Tags can be designed in various shapes and sizes, such as card type, badge type, etc., and even smart devices with Bluetooth functions can work as RTLS tags in the warehouse.


UWB is a short-range wireless communication technology that uses ultra-wideband signals at frequencies of 3.12-10.6 GHz. Most UWB applications target real-time tracking, precise locating, data collection, and data transmission since UWB features high precision and robustness in a line-of-sight (LOS) environment and security against attacks.

UWB RTLS hardware includes unique UWB tags, transmitting position data to UWB anchors with an accuracy of 10cm.


Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic waves to identify and locate objects, people, and animals via tags attached to them. RFID tags are usually referred to as inductive electronic chips, proximity cards, induction cards, electronic tags, electronic labels, etc. Using radio frequency signals, it can automatically identify a target object and obtain relevant information without human intervention so that it can operate in a variety of harsh environments.

Therefore, RFID is an ideal technology for warehouse and inventory management processes. RFID makes monitoring goods and tracking their origin and destination simpler without human intervention and human error.

Compared with other technologies, RFID has its distinct advantages in stock management, such as automotive registration of goods, which makes the recording of stock monitoring more convenient and automated.


The Wi-Fi ecosystem is ubiquitous in our daily lives, especially in indoor environments, equipped with almost all wireless devices and networking infrastructures. Similar to BLE and UWB, Wi-Fi can transmit data between devices using radio waves. Wi-Fi-based indoor positioning solutions use Wi-Fi access points and sensors to detect and transmit positioning data, mostly relying on Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) with an accuracy of about 16 ft.

Meeting the objectives and enabling benefits that improve productivity in warehouse and manage inventory and reduce risk, RTLS gradually becomes the foundation of IoT systems in warehouses, which optimizes performance by real-time monitoring goods and inventory and span the capabilities of warehouses from smarter and more automated functions.

About the author

Nikita Liu, the overseas PR manager of Blueiot (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd., is now responsible for content marketing and digital marketing. Blueiot is a world-leading RTLS (Real-time Location System) provider committed to developing high-precision locating products and solutions for indoor applications.

Read More: Click Here



Copyright 2023 © Insightscare Magazine ( a Digital Ink brand ) All rights reserved.