Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ubisense Smart Factory: Delivering Never Before Possible Visibility for Manufacturers Worldwide

By Adrian Jennings, CTO Americas

This week, Ubisense announced enhancements to its Smart Factory system that will be available early next year.  Admittedly, we’ve been a tad quiet about Smart Factory so I thought I’d formally introduce you to one of the most advanced location intelligence offerings available to manufacturers today.

Ubisense Smart Factory is a production-certified system that helps manufacturers sustain continuous flow, optimize efficiency and reduce errors in manual assembly processes. By accurately identifying and locating process-critical assets, Smart Factory provides real-time operational awareness, adaptive control and data-driven insights.

Using a sophisticated system that combines advanced hardware (tags and sensors) with software, Ubisense Smart Factory can reveal an entirely new level of visibility to help manufacturers gain efficiencies at a level never before possible. Think massive improvements in quality, productivity, and operational control and costs – all which help manufacturers more effectively manage mass product customization, which is where our world is headed.

For instance, in 2012, car buyers in Europe had 190 different car model choices. In 2019, the number will increase to an estimated 230 different models[1]. Producing that level of variation requires a substantial number of different parts and processes.  How can manufacturers possibly maintain quality by delivering on the demand for customization and choice? Ubisense Smart Factory.

Want to learn more about Smart Factory? Click here to access a video showcasing one example of how Ubisense helped BMW:

[1] PwC Autofacts 2014 Q2 Data Release

Friday, October 24, 2014

Don’t Get Lost in the Hype

By Adrian Jennings, CTO Americas

Yesterday, I hosted a webinar, Visibility in Manufacturing: The Path to Industry 4.0. To a handful of manufacturers, the coming age of cyber-physical systems is the inevitable next step. For most, however, these concepts are decades away from mass adoption. I advise you not to worry.

Don’t get lost in the hype.

Instead, focus on mastering Industry 3.0 concepts, more specifically - automation, to gain greater visibility and control over your manufacturing operations in the nearer term. Tackling visibility from process to product to department and eventually throughout your entire organization, will feed into and support your ultimate path to Industry 4.0.

Listen, I meet with manufacturers often and I am consistently asked how they compare to others in the industry. So during the webinar, we asked attendees a few questions about the state of their manufacturing operations. Below is the Q&A we conducted.

How close are you to adopting Industry 4.0?
Doing it now 36%
Plan to start in 2015 21%
It's in our five year plan 21%
We haven't even thought about it 21%

Do you spend at least an hour a day searching for assets or products?
Yes 79%
No 21%
How many variations of a product do you build on a single line?
One 0%
Tens 38%
Hundreds 31%
Thousands 31%
What is the main cause of manual errors in your plant?
People 60%
Process 40%

What percentage of wireless tools do you have in your plant?
0-10% 46%
11-20% 31%
21-50% 23%
51% and up 0%

Interestingly enough, the results collected during this webinar are in line with the survey we conducted over the summer that reflects answers from more than 250 manufacturers. So what does this tell us? Many things really, but fundamentally – manufacturers need more visibility so they can improve productivity, efficiency, and their bottom line.

How can manufacturers gain more visibility? During the webinar, I outlined a few steps to consider:

Be SelfishStart small and local. Pick a pain point and tackle it. Prove to your organization and yourself that the technology you choose works.

Be Forward ThinkingUnderstand your next step and ultimate goal and invest in the right infrastructure from the outset.

Be Cooperative Share your success and work with other people and departments. There are significant benefits when the entire organization invests in technology that contributes to greater visibility and control.

Be Supportive Guide other plants through the process to help the organization prepare for the final step – Industry 4.0.

If you’d like to learn more, you can access the webinar on-demand at Of course, if you have any questions please contact me at

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How Do Manufacturers Gauge Performance or Use Real-Time Information?

The 2014 Smart Manufacturing Technologies Survey was designed to collect feedback on how manufacturers use real-time intelligence and to gauge performance indicators such as unscheduled downtime, productivity, and quality issues. The findings from this survey provided Ubisense with a snapshot of the state of the manufacturing industry and clarity into current market needs. This insight helps Ubisense optimize its Smart Factory solution which enables manufacturers to turn data into knowledge and dramatically increase the visibility of their products, movements, and locations. 

Download this Free White Paper to Find Out

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Promised Land

Written by: Adrian Jennings, CTO of real-time location intelligence solutions

When I was a budding rocket scientist playing with missiles in the wilder parts of England, it always seemed to me that my colleagues across the pond in the US had it so much better. I imagined they were better trained, better resourced and altogether lived in some kind of Promised Land. When I eventually moved to the US I’m not sure whether I was gratified or disappointed to find that they had all the same constraints and issues we faced in the UK. In fact, we had pioneered some techniques that the US was keen to learn.

I imagine it must sometimes feel the same working in a manufacturing plant and reading in the press all about cyber-connected systems, Industry 4.0 and the like. It must often feel like everyone else has better technology and better processes than you, and surely that means they are much farther ahead.

Well, just as I discovered when moving to the US: they don’t have anything better than you, and they aren’t any further ahead. Ubisense’s recent survey of smart technologies in manufacturing revealed exactly that. Whereas a few pioneers have adopted advanced manufacturing technologies, most plants still rely on mostly manual processes and have a distinct lack of operational visibility.

The results of the survey are available in a white paper, which also discusses a path to better visibility and better processes – one that doesn’t require huge technological leaps into some imagined Promised Land. Have a look at the white paper: You might be comforted to know that many others face the same problems you do. And who knows – maybe you’re the one who’s ahead?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ubisense Germany Celebrates 10th Anniversary

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ubisense Germany, the Ubisense team met in Bendorf to partake in some team-building activities (geocaching) and to enjoy a celebratory barbecue. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ubisense In Action

Ubisense Canada (+ friends) enjoy the wilderness with a mountain bike adventure.      
Meeting of the Minds: myWorld Development Team

Our IT Team is brilliant at fixing all of our problems. Pictured: Cio Esparza, US Team

FME World Tour Recap: Using Data to Connect, Transform, and Automate Applications

By Edson Enohi

FME World Tour is an event happening around the world in more than 50 cities from April through May bringing the most recent information about data connecting applications, transforming, and automating. This year, for the first time as part of this FME World Tour, FME partner Geoplan (Ubisense), together with FME creator Safe Software, organized the event in Japan. Around 100 attendees participated at the event held in Tokyo and Nagoya.

In the first half-session of the event, top academic researchers from Tokyo university (Kato professor), Nagoya university (Kawaguchi professor), and OpenStreet Foundation Japan (Furuhashi leader) were invited as keynote speakers to talk about their recent works related to OpenData. In the second half-session, FME use cases were presented by the end customer (Pragmatica company, Iijima-san) and FME products were introduced by Geoplan and Safe Software to the audience.

Conference opening by Takushi Oda (master of ceremonies)
The Kato professor, a specialist in natural disaster studies for big cities, pointed out the preparation needs in Japan for disaster prevention and the lessons learned from the past earthquakes. The studies of the cities’ damages were explained depending on the intensity of earthquake and illustrated by several thematics on the maps. Opendata is providing great contributions, visualizing and sharing the data to better understand the local area, identify new issues, and locate houses of elderly people, which might help to save more lives during critical situations.

On the crisis management, the following three points become important: self-help, mutual assistance, and public body assistances. The professor emphasized the importance of keeping sustainability of these points.

The Kawaguchi professor, a specialist in location services, information pointed out cases of using collected big data of people moving around Nagoya station area. The data were analyzed by different times of the day, combining the location data inside the station and the outside data. Depending on the day and time, different services might be offered, and big data analytics provide good information for that.

The Furuhashi leader from OpenStreetMap Foundation Japan pointed out the increase of people interested in OpenStreetMap, made the audience learn the word “CCBY,” which means free to copy, print, and reuse. Displaying “CCBY’ is the only requirement to use OpenStreetmap. The Haiti earthquake was illustrated as a case of the OpenstreetMap community helping to create maps for Haiti in a short time, supporting the UN rescuers’ logistics during the disaster.

FME helps to move data from hundreds of different formats enabling use and sharing. Iijima-san from Pragmatica explained cases of transforming data by reprojecting, aggregating, summarizing, extracting coordinates, translating data, extracting, transforming to raster, etc.

FME Introduction by Edson Enohi
The new FME 2014 is supporting new formats for data reading and writing from Amazon Cloud Services, Google Cloud services, Revit (3D/BIM), etc. Among these formats, Google Maps Engine (GME) formats were highlighted, and cities like San Jose and Edmonton are loading several datasets into Google Map Gallery and sharing it with the public for better services. As an example, search Google for “Edmonton map gallery” to find around 80 datasets street project constructions, soccer fields, tree species, etc. Vancouver and San Francisco are also proactively using FME to open their data from several input sources into their web sites.

The 3D/BIM session also attracted the attention of the audience, with Kevin from Safe Software highlighting cases of using cityGML, IFC, Sketchup, and Revit format . For example, from complex BIM data, visualize it on the FME inspector, routing the data per floor, extracting spaces, or volumes from data.

In summary, Opendata, Big data, data analytics, cloud, and 3D/BIM are hot topics from the Geospatial market. New business opportunities are just starting from these segments, and the audience was eager to get the latest information from the event.

I am already looking forward for the next year FME World Tour!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Leveraging Location Data to Uncover the Hidden Factory

Written By: Darcie Cousins, Technical Sales Consultant, UK

By consuming location data in real-time and transforming it into visible, actionable information, Ubisense solutions reveal the ‘hidden factory’ and empower managers and executives to improve production processes, improve product quality, and automate key business processes to make their operations leaner and more efficient. 

What does that actually mean? Well, here is one analogy that might help, and it’s all about location.

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to get from Point A to Point B, you probably pulled out a paper map of the region you were traveling in. You may have had to take some time to locate your start and end points if you weren’t already familiar with where things were. Then you would assess your various route options and plan the best possible route according to your priorities – fastest, shortest, most scenic, etc.

It was time consuming and somewhat risky. Your map probably didn't show road construction and if it was out of date your planned route may not have been the most efficient – newer, larger roads might have been built that would have been a better option had you known about them. If it was a long journey, the map may have had some service stations marked but for the most part finding places to stop or eat along the way was all part of the "mystery" and "adventure" of the fabled road trip.

Once you set off, you were never sure what was just around the corner. How many times did you sit for hours in bumper to bumper traffic because of an accident or road construction? How many greasy diners did you eat at, not knowing your favorite healthy restaurant franchise was just one mile away? Did you ever really know what ETA to give your anxious relatives waiting for you? Have you ever spent a nervous hour driving through the desert hoping to find a service station with the fuel gauge dropping lower and lower? I have.

Kids today have no idea what this was like – it is the 21st century equivalent of the "walked ten miles to school with no shoes" stories our grandparents told us. This is because today we have smart phones, and these phones are running location aware applications.

Have you ever thought about how many of the apps we use daily are using location data to make our lives better and easier? My phone lists dozens, including apps for fitness, bird watching, shopping, weather, public transportation, parking, and travel. Now when I want to take a road trip I load a crowd sourced navigation app. It offers me multiple route options to choose from and displays trip distance, time, and current traffic conditions along the way. It lets me send my ETA to a friend, and even provides a link for them to monitor my trip progress in real time. Other users enter information about traffic conditions, accidents, or hazards in the road in real time, and the app will offer me a new route to help avoid them. 

All of this functionality makes travel much more efficient and pleasant than it used to be. It eliminates a lot of wasted time, effort, and energy by giving me all the information I need to make the right decisions according to my goals and preferences – and all in real time.

Ubisense Real Time Location Intelligence (RTLI) solutions are designed to bring the time and money saving features of these applications we all take for granted in our personal lives and apply them to business environments. Using the Smart Factory product set, manufacturers are able to answer important questions about the current state of production using information provided in real time. 

The system consumes location data that can come from various sources – Ubisense sensors and tags, handheld barcode readers, passive RFID tags and readers, PLCs, and so on – and transforms it into business intelligence. Businesses who have invested in this technology are now able to understand the secrets that were previously hidden in the factory:
  • Where is Product123 right now?  
  • How far through the production process is Product123? (Is it running on time?)
  • Are there any known quality issues on Product123? (Is it in rework?)
  • When is Product123 likely to be finished? (Is it at risk of exceeding the target production time?)
  • What tools have been used to assemble Product123? (Does this match the bill of materials for that product?)
  • What is the average time that products are spending in process step 4? (Is this in line with our performance goals?)
  • Does process step 4 take more time for some types of products than others? (Let’s look into why.)

Smart Factory includes a powerful rules and events engine that is able to monitor for specific situations and proactively alert production leaders to events they are interested in:
  • The Ageing WIP KPI is in danger of being exceeded for product123. (It needs to be prioritized.)
  • Workspace 4 can only accommodate three vehicles, but four have been parked there. (This carries an increased risk of paint damage.)
  • A vehicle with an unresolved electrical fault just entered the Pass to Sales area. (It must be repaired it before it leaves the site.)
  • A part that is vulnerable to corrosion has been in a workspace longer than it should be. (It must be protected to prevent scrap.)
  • Part123 just deviated from its defined production workflow. (It needs to get back on track.)

Smart Factory can add value to production processes on its own, or act as an ‘enabling’ technology augmenting existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), or Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) systems. It provides the location intelligence that takes manufacturers out of the age of paper maps and brings them into the age of smart applications. Just as technology as made travel safer and more efficient, Ubisense RTLI solutions make navigating your business more efficient and cost-effective. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

We Are Now a Google Enterprise Maps Authorized Partner

Ubisense has become an Authorized Partner of solutions based on Google’s Enterprise Maps for Business technologies. This new designation from Google enables customers to more easily assess Ubisense’s expertise advising on and deploying Google products. In conjunction with this strategic partnership, Ubisense today formally announced Ubisense myWorld 2.0, an intuitive location intelligence platform that integrates Google Maps for Business technologies and provides unmatched visibility into an enterprise’s operations, significantly enhancing operational awareness and enabling businesses to operate more effectively.
Ubisense provides location intelligence solutions that address unique enterprise visibility challenges, and as an Authorized Partner, Ubisense can now provide Google Maps for Business integration and OEM licenses to its customers in a simple and cost-efficient manner. Ubisense myWorld brings critical enterprise information together into a single application that can be accessed via any standard web browser on any smart device. Ubisense myWorld incorporates network asset data, work orders, customer information, and other critical operational data from a variety of spatial and enterprise systems vendors. Additionally, Ubisense myWorld can be integrated with Google Maps for Business solutions, including Google Maps, Google Search, Google Earth, Google Elevation and Google Street View with Ubisense myWorld.
“Google Maps give our customers a smart, simple, and fast way to view complex business operations so they can quickly understand the state of operations and make better and more informed business decisions,” said Jay Cadman, vice president of business development, Ubisense. “In, say, an outage caused by a natural disaster, having this detailed view of an organization’s operations in real time enables our customers to respond to safety issues, such as downed power lines, with the right equipment and safety precautions the first time. They can keep their employees and customers safer and restore services faster. Every telecommunications and utility company in the world strives for that and now we’re able to deliver a solution that enables them to achieve both goals.”
Google Streeview being shown in myWorld
Using Ubisense myWorld with Google Maps technologies, Ubisense customers can realize a number of benefits that can significantly impact an organization’s bottom line and improve customer service. Ubisense myWorld customers gain the ability to react to issues and potentially harmful situations sooner and are better prepared to solve issues faster, work more efficiently, and enhance their customer service and support. Rapidly gaining traction among telecommunications and utility companies, Ubisense myWorld is already used by 26 customers spanning five continents. Ubisense customers are using Ubisense myWorld for many critical business processes, including storm damage assessment, network operations, gas leak surveying, field mobility and customer service.
Google Maps for Business brings the power of Google Maps to an organization, providing simple, familiar mapping technology to the workplace. Users can layer their data on top of Google’s base map and create their own maps and geospatial applications that can be used by anyone — anytime, anywhere. By using any of Google Maps business solutions, including Google Maps Engine, Google Maps Engine Pro, Google Maps Coordinate or the Google Maps APIs, organizations and their employees can rely on maps that are comprehensive, easy-to-use and always up to date.
The Google Maps Partner Program includes companies globally that sell, service and customize Google Maps for business solutions for their customers. As a part of the Google Maps Partner Program, Ubisense receives training, support and deployment tools from Google.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

21 Ways to Chase Waste with Smart Factory

Ubisense Smart Factory can help you monitor inventory, reduce wait time, improve processing, identify movement, and eliminate defects.

Cambridge, Paris, and Denver Offices are Hiring!

We are looking for experienced consultants, project managers, and software engineers. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Latest 3D Measurement Technology

Written by: Langley Willauer

The SPAR Conference is all about 3D measurement technology, so when the annual show came to Colorado Springs last week, Ubisense was there scouring for technologies that would help our customers.

Applications included architectural preservation, inside-building models for SWAT teams, crime scene investigation tools; all manner and form of data collection for engineering and design projects.

First, scanners. Since being invented years ago, the technology has diversified and expanded. Indoor and outdoor scanners were on display with various accuracies and ranges. There was a lot of buzz about the scanner mounted in a prototype phone as part of Google’s Project Tango. And there were scanners that clipped onto iPads which created little mapping machines.

And what do get from a scanner? Well, a point cloud. Cool sounding, trendy even, but not very useful in and of itself. So there were software and service providers on the floor too, companies who, with varying degrees of automation, could turn a point cloud into a 3D model that an engineer would recognize.

For example, a Company called New Spin was doing prototype work with one of our customers, American Electric Power. They were placing their scanner at various locations inside a substation, a process that eventually led to a functioning 3D model where engineers could safely take accurate measurements and try “what if” scenarios with their designs in the existing model.

But scanners aren’t cameras. So every deployed scanner seems to also have a companion camera for capturing the image that can be “draped” over the scan. Those iPad scanners appeared to be able to do this on the fly, going from waving the thing around to a working, full-color 3D model of the 10 feet around you in a few seconds. Very compelling technology, to be sure.

Handheld scanners that clip onto iPads are the latest thing
Where does this all fit in? Some utility customers are already employing scanning companies to map poles, wires, and roads. Helicopter-based scanners have been flown in transmission-line corridors for years, mapping tree clearances. For our manufacturing customers, this technology could map indoor spaces quickly and speed up deployment of location-based technologies. For our natural gas customers, a gas leak investigation is similar to a crime scene investigation, so why not adapt this technology for field workers; and certainly exposed pipe deserves to be mapped as closely as possible before it’s covered up again.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ubisense in Action: Hannover Messe

Picture: Dr. Andreas Schurzinger demonstrating Smart Factory at

We are now on Google+

Ubisense Smart Factory installed at Daimler

Since the beginning of July 2013, Ubisense Smart Factory is in production on the Mercedes S-class assembly line in Sindelfingen, Germany. In a pilot phase, the system was tested and integrated with the DC tools in two line segments. The remaining stations were then equipped and all the DC tools were integrated in the subsequent step, which went live in July.

Smart Factory is used in the Sindelfingen plant to identify vehicles and assets on the final assembly line and to control tools based on their position. Linked to the vehicle ID, the real-time tracking data is also transferred to other systems in the production facility, so machine operators always know which particular vehicle is arriving at a station—even on those line segments where conventional vehicle sensing systems cannot be used. Cumbersome, manual scanning processes are thus eliminated, vehicles and tools are matched automatically and the correct tool programs are loaded at the respective work stations. As a result, unproductive assembly time is reduced significantly and errors that can occur with manual processes are avoided.

Smart Factory is integrated seamlessly with the car manufacturer’s PLUS manufacturing execution system and allows for a direct control of the DC tools via the Atlas Copco Open Protocol. In the full roll-out, devices and tools provided by other vendors are also controlled via the real-time location data. The system was implemented by Ubisense together with Atlas Copco, who have a strategic partnership since 2009.