RTLS: Enhanced Social Distancing and Safer Work Environments

Adding RTLS to this warehouse can get it back up and running safely
Adding RTLS to this warehouse can get it back up and running safely

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues with no end in sight, businesses of all types are looking for ways to get back to work while prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of their workers.

Some precautions are simple enough to implement, like improved sanitation and staggered schedules. Other approaches, like social distancing, bring challenges that most businesses have never had to contend with. Humans are not accustomed to keeping distance from one another and most workplaces aren’t set up for it. As we return to public life and workplaces, we will need to relearn how to interact with each other and manage teams in a new reality in order to stay safe.

Construction worker wearing L1T
Construction worker wearing L1T

Real-time location systems (RTLS) that can be worn by workers as pins or badges are a powerful tool that can make all the difference in the success of workplace social distancing, whether in an office or a construction site.

While some wearable technologies offer backward-looking data on worker’s interactions and movements throughout the day, RTLS gives up-to-the-second data, including proximity, that allows businesses to set safety protocols and receive up-to-the-second alerts on when they have been broken. Additionally, these devices can adapt to changing conditions and regulations, allowing users to set different parameters, and scale their systems up or down as needed.

Proximity tracking via on-site anchors and tags

Imagine a construction site with dozens of workers all serving different functions. Each person knows their own job, but adhering to social distancing without understanding who else is moving around the site is all but impossible without the aid of technology. RTLS can credential workers as they enter the site each day, giving management an exact picture of who is coming in, and where they are supposed to be.

Throughout the workday, RTLS wearables allow workers to better adhere to social distancing guidelines by tracking their proximity to others and vibrating or beeping when they get too close. Using RTLS anchors, management can assign workgroups and geofence restricted areas, warning workers and alerting management if they’ve breached protocol. Having the full picture of who has been on-site, where they went and who they interacted with is critical in preventing the spread of infection, and in tracking the contacts of any workers who may become ill.

RTLS proximity alert

RTLS gathers info that illuminates trends across a worksite. This kind of data provides critical insights that can guide better, more impactful decision making. For instance, in a factory setting, a supervisor can see that workers are bottlenecking in a certain part of the production line so they reconfigure machinery to allow for safer distancing. In an office setting, a manager can see that people are going through a restricted area to exit so they sanitize the area, and discuss it with their team. At a warehouse, managers can see that too many people are working at a certain time, creating crowding, so they make changes to their schedule and staffing levels. Armed with this data, leaders can evolve their protocols and approaches depending on current conditions, leading to much safer work environments in all types of industries. 

College campuses will benefit from RTLS

Social distancing and Covid-19 protocols are just two of the ways RTLS technology will redefine the future of the workplace. When the pandemic eventually ends, RTLS will still be there, supplying powerful data to leaders and organizations as they streamline workflows, manage robots, guide workers, make workplaces more secure, and much more.

Dave Starr, VP Research and Development Tesseract Future Lab