If you have studied something about proximity marketing or indoor geolocation, you have certainly heard of beacons. They are small devices – available in several BLE emitting formats – Bluetooth Low Energy.
Through these signs, it is possible to locate where a person is inside a closed environment. That is, it works practically as a GPS for physical spaces such as stores, industries, restaurants or any other indoor environment.
This opens up the possibility for various applications in different sectors. That is why the trend is for this technology to grow and be part of our daily lives in the future.
In the following, we will explain better how these devices and their different applications work!
As we mentioned, beacons are devices that emit BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). It is a radio frequency protocol, similar to bluetooth, which we find on our smartphones, for example. However, it uses much less energy and is capable of going beyond pure data transmission.
Thus, the beacon acts as a signal emitter, while another device (such as a smartphone, for example) will serve as a receiver. This receiver can only store information that a connection has taken place or can initiate some action.
That is why, in the case of smartphones, it is possible to send notifications of promotions or check in on social networks, for example. However, it is worth remembering that, for this type of action, it is necessary that the user has the bluetooth turned on and has downloaded the application from the establishment that will process this action.
That is, the beacon transmits information about the location of that user to the application, the application checks if there is any predetermined action for that location. If so, the user receives the alert on the cell phone.
However, beacons are not just for communication and marketing. Defining the location of a person or object can mean process optimization. After all, in many closed environments like factories and distribution centers, we do not know how assets and employees move during the day.
Having data of this type can help managers gain greater control over their business and find possibilities for optimization. From this perspective, beacons have applications mainly in four major areas:
Industry beacons are synonymous with productivity. Having a more efficient operation is every manager’s dream and beacons can help in this mission from different perspectives.
First in staff management: beacons in badge formats emit BLE signals, which are receive by sensors spread throughout the plant. With the help of an algorithm, these sensors identify the location of each employee throughout the day.
With this information in hand, managers come to understand which are the areas with the greatest demand for employees, what is the idle time of each of them, where are the main productive bottlenecks, how to rethink the industrial layout and much more.
The tags can also be attached to the pallets or products that the industry produces. Thus, it is possible to follow the complete life cycle of each part, avoiding losses and having greater control over the time spent in each stage. This is what Gerdau did, for example, achieving an ROI of 234%
Beacons can also be great allies in the logistics operation of a factory or distribution center. By sensing the location (as in the example above of the industry) and attaching the tags to mobile equipment (forklifts, carts or trucks that make internal routes), it is possible to identify how materials are moved within the factory.
In this way, the manager can identify flaws in internal logistics, possibilities for route optimization; understand if the equipment is being used in the best possible way, among other benefits.
Beacons are also useful in asset management, allowing real-time inventory control and ensuring the security of everything in the operation.
In hospital settings, time is a precious resource. That is why beacons add a lot of value in this area too. The technology also works in a very similar way to the industry: through badges or smartphones, the movement of doctors and nurses throughout the day can be monitored.
Thus, it is possible to understand which the most critical environments of the hospital are and where the main bottlenecks are. With this data in hand, managers can reallocate their team and offer a better experience to the patient.
In addition, beacons could be couple to critical equipment. For example, in an emergency, an electrocardiogram can be located in real time, avoiding damage to the patient or the need to stock more units than necessary.
Most large companies outsource the facilities service (cleaning, maintenance, gardening, etc.). However, the providing company is not able to have full control of its employees, since the work has done at the customer’s headquarters.
Beacons allow remote staff management. That is, even without being physically on site, the manager has real-time information about the movement of his employees, just that they have a beacon attached to the badge.
In addition to making sure they are doing the job, this allows you to better understand what the processes are like and which ones are most in demand. With these data in hand, it is possible to relocate teams and make work planning much more coherent.
The most widespread use of beacons is still for communication and marketing purposes. As we commented, the idea is to always use them to provoke some action on the smartphones of those who are or pass by some location.
Some areas that use beacons in this regard are:
In the United States, it is already very common to use beacons as proximity marketing. The idea is to increase customer interaction and improve their store experience.
The logic is the one we explained at the beginning of this text: when going through a specific session of the establishment, the store sends a notification with more details about the products that are there or even a discount coupon, for example.
Imagine a museum or any other tourist spot that has an exhibition. Wouldn’t it be interesting to receive more details about each work / object you go through on your cell phone?
Beacons can also perform this role, allowing for a new experience in tourism. In addition, in a very proactive way, that is, it is not necessary that the user have to position the cell phone in some place, as in the case of QR Codes, for example.
Upon identifying that a customer has entered the restaurant, the establishment can immediately send information about the menu. If combined with other technologies, the customer can even place the order right there in the application, reducing the need for waiters and employees.
That is, it is another way of making processes simpler and more practical through beacons.
Novidá believes that beacons can go beyond communication. Determining the location of any resource provides valuable opportunities for different segments.
That is why our solutions focus on labor-intensive operating segments such as Industry, Logistics, Facilities and Construction. They are mainly relate to workforce management and process management
If your company has any of these problems, talk to us and find out how we can help you!
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