infsoft is a German solution provider of indoor tracking and navigation capabilities. In addition to custom-designed solutions, infsoft also supplies scalable SDK’s, enabling developers to leverage their location services into third-party applications. Frankfurt airport, Swiss Federal Railways, Siemens and Roche are among the organizations that have been able to streamline processes and enhance business performance thanks to infsoft. Their “smart connected locations” approach, with all backend tools and gathered data integrated with infsoft’s proprietary LocAware platform represents their spirit of innovation.
Challenge: Achieving Better Transparency
While working on further optimizing their solutions, infsoft recognized the need to offer even greater levels of insight, accuracy and transparency to the asset-tracking process. Realizing that many of their clients, especially in industrial settings, needed more complete, full-time awareness of assets locations and statuses, infsoft wanted a way to supply more information that could be used to control costs and optimize workflows.
Real-time insights into things like personnel planning, inventory levels and key asset locations are of critical importance in many industrial environments. A 2019 project for one client in particular—Sterman, a German specialist in workpiece clamping—pushed infsoft to find a way to provide better optimization of their processes with a next-level asset tracking solution that used real-time data to inform better decision making and help to avoid bottlenecks.
For the Sterman project, optimizing throughput levels, set-up times and downtimes were decisive factors. Tracking orders at high production levels was also a key issue for any new solution. Addressing these challenges with conventional rigid systems and manual processes for handling data would place Sterman at a clear competitive disadvantage.
To collect and process the data they needed to achieve the transparency they sought, infsoft turned to a technology they first began using in 2013—beacon-based infrastructures. Beacons were the clear choice for infsoft’s Sterman project due to the high degree of accuracy and low latency times they provide. Also, their cost-effectiveness, mobility, easy deployment and interoperability with multiple systems and devices makes them extremely flexible and able to adapt to the particular circumstances of any project, from indoor navigation to asset tracking and other location-based services. And as if all that weren’t enough, the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) that powers beacons is extremely energy-efficient.
In short, beacons were the ideal solution from every perspective. A successful POC for Sterman confirmed that precise location tracking capabilities powered by beacons were exactly what they needed.
Infsoft has since moved on to integrating more sensor data into their solution to enrich their offering. As beacons became more deeply integrated into their solution planning, infsoft began to discover and leverage more beacon functionalities, like environmental sensors. The use of sensor-enabled beacons has created opportunities for additional applications that increase the value of asset-tracking solutions, adding environmental conditions to the metrics that can be monitored.
Using Beacons Effectively
In the years of leveraging beacon technology, infsoft quickly advanced along the learning curve to a point where they were able to understand and meet its requirements.
Learning about the effective placement of beacons, battery management issues and general fleet management came easily with a bit of trial and error to discover what worked best in different conditions. To facilitate beacon-based deployments, infsoft even created their own beacon management software tool, which made it easier to face the challenge of scaling up to projects involving more beacons.
The entire experience of working with beacons was also made easier by infsoft’s choice of Kontakt.io as a partner. In particular, they point to Kontakt.io’s robust components and build (important for demanding environments), long battery lives, competitive pricing and outstanding support.
“Kontakt.io is one of the most innovative companies we’ve been working with in the IoT space. They are a trustworthy partner and their products – convincing in both reliability and flexibility – offer great benefits for a lot of use cases we see in our projects.” infsoft CEO Tobias Donaubauer
Moving Forward with Kontakt.io
After a proof of concept for the Sterman project met with a great response, infsoft proceeded to implement a project that would grow to include 800 beacons to help with producing digital visualizations of orders and their statuses. Now, they’re skilled at communicating the value of transparency in manufacturing processes to their clients, who also benefit from the optimization of machine utilization and streamlined scheduling.
Going forward, infsoft is eager to explore the possibilities of incorporating Artificial Intelligence into their beacon-based solutions, including maintenance prediction applications. Soon beacons will be helping to alert stakeholders about mechanical issues that don’t exist yet in order to avoid costly shutdowns and prevent small problems from becoming large enough to affect production.