Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ubisense in Action: Hannover Messe

Picture: Dr. Andreas Schurzinger demonstrating Smart Factory at

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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.

Ubisense Selected by Savi Technology to Provide Location Intelligence Systems to U.S. Government Agencies in RFID-IV Contract Win

Ubisense has been selected to provide its real-time location intelligence systems to U.S. government agencies by Savi Technology which was awarded a multi-million dollar, five-year contract by the U.S. Army Contracting Command. Savi and Ubisense will provide indoor/outdoor location intelligence systems that enhance global asset planning and logistics tracking to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), coalition partners and other U.S. government agencies.
Ubisense’s indoor location intelligence systems report the precise location of tagged items in real-time (indoor GPS), and also provide real-time alerts, process monitoring and reporting. This ability to gain complete visibility inside facilities enablesorganizations to radically optimize operations logistics, manufacturing and MRO operations, consistently resulting in higher quality, faster delivery and improved reliability.  
“We have put together a world-class team to serve the needs of the Department of Defense and other federal agencies,” said Bill Clark, president and chief executive officer at Savi.  “Combining Ubisense’s expertise in real-time location systems with Savi’s leadership status as the premier provider of military RFID systems provides the U.S. military and our allies with unmatched global asset planning and tracking capabilities.”
The demand for Ubisense’s location intelligence systems is rapidly growing globally in commercial sectors, based on results achieved by existing clients, such as Amtrak, BMW, PACCAR, Caterpillar and Cummins, to name a few. Ubisense has also worked with the U.S. Army to develop indoor training systems to better prepare soldiers for urban terrain combat, and welcomed the opportunity to expand its footprint in the federal government arena.
“This contract signals a valuable opportunity for government agencies to significantly improve a variety of asset planning and logistics-related functions, and we are grateful to be part of this Product Director Automated Movement and Identification Solutions (PD AMIS) mission,” said Richard Green, CEO, Ubisense. “We look forward to working with Savi Technology, a trusted and proven vendor within the government sector, to demonstrate the plethora of benefits federal agencies can achieve using this technology.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ubisense in Action: Global Teams Unite in Cambridge for 2014 Kickoff

Brian Vance (USA), Scott Casey (USA), Kristel Faris (USA), Aubree Topai (USA), Dave Harris (USA), Jim Stippich (USA)
Stefan Schwiers (Germany), Meike Porrmann (Germany), Karsten Schultz (Germany)
Andy Schuerzinger (Germany), Darcie Cousins (UK), Hubert Peyre (France)
Kendall Truitt (USA)
Corey Holland (USA)
Aubree Topai (USA), Kristel Faris (USA)
Janice Kok (Asia), Scott Casey (USA), Bill Riva (USA), Brian Vance (USA)
Adrian Jennings (USA), Jon Heathcote (UK),  Jay Cadman  (USA)
Entire Ubisense Global Sales Team (Germany, France, Asia, Canada, USA, UK) 

Latest Article: "Big Challenges Off the Road" by Automotive Manufacturing Solutions

The volumes may be lower and the unit size larger, but the logistical and manpower issues involved in off-highway manufacturing are similar to the automotive industry
CaterpillarThe manufacture of huge off-road vehicles follows many of the same processes found in automotive production. Most of these models are made using flow line processes with line-side kitting and sequenced logistics; the main difference comes in the sheer size and weight of the components and subassemblies.

The Caterpillar Peterlee facility in Durham, UK, is the worldwide manufacturing location for Caterpillar Articulated Trucks and currently produces a six-model range, four with different engine variants that tip the load and two which eject it. Phil Handley, facilities managing director, explains: “We make vehicles with a capacity starting at 25 tonnes right through to a 43-tonne machine. We have machines that we sell into regulated countries from an emissions perspective – tier 4 compliant machines – and we have machines that we can sell to the rest of the world where the emissions regulations are not quite as tight.”

Product variation is quite limited. Unlike their automotive counterparts, off-road vehicle manufacturers generally do not face the constant churn of new models on an annual basis which necessitates re-tooling and significant line changes. “Our cycles are very different from automotive models and lately they tend to be emissions driven,” states Handley. “We are just going through the launch of the tier 4 compliant product along with most of our competitors,” he says, adding that elements of a base model tend to be updated before a new generation is launched.

In addition to the narrower model range, paintshop is less taxing; the majority of construction equipment is yellow, although specific colour schemes for off-highway vehicles such as military camouflage are sometimes requested.

Scope as well as scale
Handley refers to the manufacturing philosophy at Peterlee as “flat plate to gate”, with only the drivetrain not manufactured on site. All the drivetrains feature Caterpillar components (gearboxes, axles and engines) that are brought into the plant in sequenced line-side deliveries.

“We receive flat sheet steel and then go through the standard processes where we cut, bend, weld, paint,” he explains. “We then have a single piece flow line where we assemble various models. It is not actually a physically moving line such as you would find in an automotive assembly plant, but we use product movers to index move the machine along the line as it grows.”

There is only a small amount of automation. “We use laser cutting technology and we use robots for welding,” says Handley. “We have an automotive paint plant, but that is not automated. There is more automation in the fabrication process as there are more repeatable processes that we can modular-build.”

When it comes to capacity, line speed and throughput, Handley is somewhat cagey. “We have got capacity in place that meets industry demand and we are continually investing in that capacity,” he states. “We are flexible with our working patterns; we can move people in and out of the process to match the seasonality or cyclical demand, so we can manage peaks and troughs with our process.”

Tackling the size issue

From an automotive perspective, the major difficulty with off-highway vehicles is their sheer size. “The scalability is certainly a challenge,” Handley says. “But you have to bear in mind that, compared to some of the large mining trucks that are manufactured elsewhere within the group, our product is not particularly large; you would fit our completed truck inside the body of one of those [trucks].”

Nonetheless, Handley admits that the scale of moving the parts is certainly a challenge. “But we make our own trolleys and stillages and we have huge cranes to move the components around,” he states. “The actual dump body sits on a special stand that can be raised by a fork-lift and moved to a required position.”

Along with the size and scale of the components, there are ergonomic issues to be addressed. “You need the people who are involved in the manufacturing process to be safe and to be able to move and manipulate heavy components,” explains Handley. “So that can become a challenge and we have had to develop some bespoke equipment that we use to fit various components to the machine.”

A further complication caused by the size of the vehicles, components and assemblies is the space needed for line-side logistics. When working on a flow line, modules need to be available at the right point and at the right time. According to Handley, some of the order-specific, sequencing activities where various options are matched with the product as it moves along the line mean that a large area is required. “We don’t have a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong as we are moving through the manufacturing process, as realigning products is difficult.”

The active tags used in Ubisense’s Smart Factory System transmit data several times per second
Manpower and ongoing needs
Another key challenge faced by Caterpillar and other heavy vehicle manufacturers is staffing. “Along with the process, it is the skills that are our biggest problem,” confirms Handley. This means attracting, developing and retaining the skills that are needed across the full range of positions: welders, fabricators, painters, electricians, manufacturing engineers and design engineers.

“It is quite a challenge attracting young, talented people into the industry,” states Handley. He believes the problem is particularly acute in the off-highway sector: “Maybe automotive companies don’t find it so difficult, but at this end of the market we do." He explains that heavy manufacturing is "not always viewed as an attractive career” because it is seen as a “dirty, dark and dank type environment” – but that this is far from the truth. Peterlee, for one, is a high-tech facility with a clean environment despite the heavy fabrication.
Placing progress in real time
At the AGCO factory at Marktoberdorf in Germany, a recent installation of a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) was being hampered by incorrect data entry during the assembly process. The company opted to automate this activity using the Ubisense Smart Factory System. Over the 4,000m2 area, AGCO fitted 76 sensors and 200 real-time location system (RTLS) tags. By precisely tracking the tags on each gear assembly as well as on each subassembly, the company achieved real-time progress monitoring.

“Typically, manufacturers are relying on an operator manually typing in information on a workstation about the job in process,” says Terry Phebey, Ubisense vice-president of marketing. For instance, a gearbox assembly would come into the bay and at a quality control point a worker would have to type information into a terminal or scan a barcode. By instrumenting the area, AGCO was able to eliminate the human data input. The entry of the assembly into the space automatically sends intelligent data to the MES, entirely machine-to-machine.

“All that is required is that at the start of the process the tag is fitted to the part or assembly and an association is made between that part and the serial or bin number,” explains Phebey. “The Smart Factory System uses high-precision UWB real-time location technology combined with GPS for outdoor applications,” he adds. “Users only need three components: active (battery-powered) transponders or tags, designed for different applications; sensors; and software.”

The tags have a unique ID and can, for example, be associated with production data and transmit location radio signals to sensors, which detect the signals and calculate the positions of the tags several times per second. The Ubisense software stores, processes and displays the location data in real time for the user as well as generating events for IT or shop-floor systems.
Customers usually start with a small zone and just a few sensors as proof of concept, then, when they are happy with the ROI and quality metrics, the system is rolled out across the entire assembly process.

Employee Spotlight: Janice Kok

Name: Janice Kok                           
Hometown: Singapore                 
Education: Dip in Marketing
Department: RTLS, Asia

How long have you been with Ubisense and what is your background?  
 I joined Ubisense in 2004 and I was with Smallworld till year 2002 as the Marketing & Events Manager.

What’s a typical day like for you?
 It is hard to describe a 'typical' day because at any point in time I could be presenting to new clients,  working with existing customers, putting together proposals and quotations, communicating with the corporate teams or running all sorts of errands.  So every day is quite different which makes it exciting for me!

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The thing I enjoy most about this job is that it provides me the opportunity to visit places that I never thought I would, such as: steel plants, car manufacturing plants, detention facilities, semi-conductor manufacturing plants, shipyards etc. These visits have widen my horizons significantly.

What was your very first job?
I held several school vacation jobs at hotels in the Front Office as well the housekeeping department.  I then got a permanent position in one of the hotels as a Guest Relation Officer.

What do you enjoy doing in your time off?
I enjoy doing some needlework during my time off as I find it therapeutic.  In the past, I used to crochet, cross-stitch, knit, sew and other craftwork a lot more than now.  I would give them away as gifts but these days my production fails to meet the demands. 

What is your favorite city? 
I like Lucerne, Switzerland.  I was amazed by the view of the lake to the mountains and I thought I could sit there and stare forever.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Employee Spotlight: Janna Williams

Name: Janna Williams  
Hometown: Denver, Colorado           
Ubisense Location: Denver, Colorado 
Department: Finance
Education:  Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Accounting from the University of Denver, CPA

How long have you been with Ubisense and what is your background?  
I have been with Ubisense for nearly two years now.  I started my career in public accounting at a CPA firm in Denver, where I did audit and tax work for over 10 years.  Since then, I have worked in a variety of industries, including software / technology, financial institutions, and real estate. 

What’s a typical day like for you?  
There is definitely not a typical day!  The variety and volume of work keep it interesting for me.  We obviously have our monthly routines and deadlines for things like results, forecasts, and payroll.  There are annual tasks, such as the AOP, income taxes, and audits.  We also have multiple projects, such as registering for sales taxes and putting in place policies and procedures to properly collect and remit.  The Finance team has undergone a lot of change this year and we are constantly trying to improve the usefulness and timeliness of information we provide.  Hopefully some (or all) of you will see the benefits of these projects in 2014.

What inspired you to choose your career path?  
I took an accounting class in high school and the teacher inspired me to make a career of it.  At the time, we did accounting in pencil on green ledger paper instead of Excel and I liked it when everything balanced!  Although I quickly learned that is not accounting in the real world, there are a wide variety of jobs you can do and it is likely you’ll never be unemployed.

What was your very first job? 
My very first job was in High School at Dairy Queen where I learned how to make the perfect Peanut Buster Parfait and met my husband, Jamie!

What do you enjoy doing in your time off? 
In my free time, I enjoy cooking (and eating!), reading, and hiking.  I also love SCUBA diving and try to dive at least once a year. 

Do you own any animals?  
I have a 12 year old Shiba Inu named Sake (photo below) and a betta fish named Pacquiao.

What one food (or meal) could you eat forever?  

Where do you plan on going for your next holiday?  
Speaking of diving, I hope to go somewhere tropical on my next vacation.  I went to Belize many years ago and have always wanted to go back.  The wrecks and underwater statue garden in Grenada could be fun.  Cozumel is always nice . . . .

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Selecting a Location Intelligent System: Accuracy and Tag Range

When evaluating the suitability of various location intelligent solutions, it is useful to have some technical understanding. In the following article we will discuss how location accuracy and tag range play an important part in choosing a location intelligent system. 

Location based applications are most often compared in terms of the accuracy provided by the sensor system. Location accuracy is certainly a critical parameter for quantifying system performance, but when quoted out of context it can prove misleading. A location sensor system is only fully defined when location accuracy is quoted in conjunction with a consistency metric.

Consistency in this context means a measure of how often the location system delivers the stated accuracy. The game of darts provides a simple example: even the most amateur player can score a bulls-eye if enough darts are thrown, but the measure of a good player is: how often can he or she hit the bulls-eye?

Figure 4-1 (above) shows an example of the output of a typical location system (or, the places where the dart hit the board in the above analogy).

This plot is generated by counting the number of measurements that lie within the error circles shown in Figure 4-1. In this example, 20% of the measurements lie within the 3’ error circle, 70% are within the 15’ circle (including those in the 3’ circle) and 97% are inside the 30’ circle. Figure 4-2 shows that data plotted in blue. The orange line shows an example location system with a much tighter constellation of measurements around the true location, with 95% of measurements inside the 3’ error circle.

The blue and orange lines in Figure 4-2 represent a true comparison between location technologies. By simply comparing location accuracy, misleading results can be interpreted if the accuracy figures are quoted at different consistency levels. In the darts analogy, the orange line represents a good player, and the blue line a poor one.

Figure 4-3 shows how consistency levels become important in location enabled applications. In this figure seven zones are shown, with the item being tracked located in the center zone. In the case of a 3’ error measurement the item is correctly associated with the center zone. When the error is 15’ the item could be in one of three zones, and with 30’ error in one of five.

Reading from Figure 4-2 the different location systems can now be fully compared as shown in Table 4-1.

The importance of Table 4-1 is that it compares systems based on not just how well they perform, but how often they perform to that level. It’s clear that both systems can claim to identify the location of a tag to within a single zone, but that the high accuracy system does so with significantly more consistency than the low accuracy system. In a real production environment, location system performance must exceed 99.9% for many mission critical applications.

All location intelligence technologies share the common theme of some kind of tag attached to the object being tracked, and an infrastructure of sensors that determine the ID and location of the tag. Such tags may emit optical, ultrasonic or radio frequency energy, but radio frequency (RF) tags are the only ones suited to industrial environments (since optical and ultrasonic signals are too easily jammed or blocked in typical factories).

In all cases the sensing infrastructure attempts to measure either the range or bearing (or both) to a tag from one or more sensors and from that information the tag’s location is calculated. The technologies are predominantly differentiated buy how well they are able to measure range and/or bearing and, as a result, how accurately they are able to determine tag location.

Many location systems make use of the fact that the signal strength from a tag becomes weaker as the tag moves farther from a sensor. These systems measure the signal strength measured by multiple sensors, use that information to estimate the range of the tag from each sensor and then calculate the tag location. Figure 4-4 shows how this works.

In Figure 4-4 it is clear that three sensors are required in order to locate a tag in two dimensions. (By extension, four sensors are required for a 3D location determination.)

Tag location errors are cause by many sources, the dominant of which being variations in signal strength caused by effects other than range. If some other effect acts to reduce the signal strength then the sensor interprets this weak signal as longer range than reality. Figure 4-5 shows how range errors from each sensor contribute to overall tag location error.
Range errors are the limiting factor of signal strength systems since many factors affect signal strength beyond just the spacing of the tag from the sensor. Examples include attenuation due to signal blockage and variations due to tag orientation. The dominant factor, however, is an effect called “multipath” which is a factor in all location system types, and so is worth a short aside to aid in understanding.

When a tag emits a signal, that signal is, by design, emitted in all directions so as to reach as many sensors as possible. This scattergun signal will bounce off any reflective surface, such as metal objects, and a single sensor may hear the signal from one tag echoing off multiple surfaces. The effect is exactly the same as voice echoes heard when shouting in a large cavern or in the mountains.

In a manufacturing environment, which is filled with metallic objects, the chief concern of location systems is to cope with the damaging effects of multipath. For signal strength systems multipath can be very damaging indeed due to an effect known as signal cancellation.

A radio wave is just like a wave on the ocean: an undulating surface which moves along at a certain speed (the speed of light in the case of radio waves). In the ocean, waves can come from multiple directions and when two peaks meet a very large wave can build up locally as the peaks add together. Similarly a peak from one direction can coincide with a trough from another direction and these completely cancel each other leaving no wave at all. The phenomenon is familiar to surfers who understand that waves come in sets: they wait through the periods when the peaks and troughs are cancelling each other leaving very small waves, instead hoping to catch a period of peaks combining with peaks for the biggest surf of the set.

The exact same signal cancellation phenomenon affects radio waves as they bounce off multiple reflectors and arrive at a sensor from many directions. The adding and cancelling of peaks and troughs look to the sensor like increases and decreases in signal strength, which that sensor interprets as decreases and increases in tag range even though the tag may not be moving at all. The result is that the error bands in Figure 4-5 can grow very wide due to multipath, causing large errors in tag location.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Golden Rule: Better Visibility = Better Process

Without Ubisense you can't see the entire picture....
Visibility is a critical component in any task that involves motion. Humans rely on their sense of sight, sound, touch and even smell in order to identify and locate objects around them, and in doing so safely and efficiently complete execute tasks involving intricate motion. The seemingly simple task of walking through a crowded shopping mall requires detailed knowledge of the position, nature and motion of all objects in that environment lest we expect a wall to move out of our way, or needlessly dodge a person whose path does not in fact cross ours.

But with Ubisense you can see exactly where everything is in real time. 
Any manufacturing process is similarly a complex task involving intricate motion: parts and sub-assemblies move from suppliers to assembly facilities; items under construction move from workstation to workstation; tools, parts and workers must assemble at the right place at the right time. The list goes on and on.

In any such environment the scope for mistakes and inefficiencies is prevalent: parts delivered to the wrong place, the incorrect tools used, bottlenecks impeding progress, items lost. In just the same way that human senses provide real-time information about the environment enabling informed judgments to be made and efficient progress to follow, location intelligent systems provide visibility into manufacturing processes and give operators the visibility and control needed to optimize efficiency and eliminate mistakes.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Employee Spotlight: Edgar Cooper

Name: Edgar Cooper
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Ubisense Location: New Orleans, LA
Department: RTLS
Education: BA Philosophy and MS Computer Science

How long have you been with Ubisense and what is your background?
I joined Ubisense as part of the Terraprise Solutions acquisition in 2003. I remained on the GIS side of the business until 2005 when I moved to RTLS delivery.  Most of my previous experience was in software design and development so the RTLS business has been an exciting change. The mixture of hardware/RF and software has been exciting and extremely challenging.

My first project was tracking soldiers.  I remember wondering what I was getting into with automatic weapons and smoke grenades firing while testing.   That was an interesting start to what is almost 8 years of tracking soldiers, horses, dogs, monkeys, office workers, trade show attendees, and other random things until finally focusing on manufacturing and transit applications (with still the odd military, sports or patient tracking project)

What’s a typical day like for you?
There are no typical days in Ubisense! I am generally focused on the technical aspects of new or difficult projects and products, as well as helping where I can with proposals and general technical support of both internal resources and technical staff. I also travel on a near weekly basis to assist with specific pre-sales and project / delivery tasks.

What is the most significant trend you’ve seen in your field?
Over the last few years, there has been greater adoption of the technology and rapid expansion of RTLS business in manufacturing, transit and military.  The ‘special’ projects have been reduced and a more sustainable and predictable business has been growing.   I think that the next few years will continue with increased focus and rapid growth.

How did you become interested in GIS? Or RTLS?
I started out at Entergy working as a software developer on the Smallworld GIS project. Looking to travel and move beyond the Entergy cubicles, I co-founded TerraPrise Solutions to serve Smallworld GIS customer throughout the Americas. Terraprise was then acquired in 2003 and my career with Ubisense began.

What was your very first job?
I held summer jobs at a hospital working in the purchasing warehouse and maintenance. I then worked as a lab technician working on software/data analysis and doing antibody screening during college and graduate school.

What do you enjoy doing in your time off?
2013 has been a busy year but I try to volunteer at the Audubon Zoo on Saturday mornings.  I have worked in the primate section off and on since 1992 with a few of the same animals and zoo keepers.  Having divested of other hobby businesses in 2013, I am looking for new ideas for future ventures.

Pictures from my volunteer work at the Audubon Zoo
What is your favorite city?
New York City has been my favorite city to visit since spending 7 months there in 1998. I love the diversity, restaurants and constant activity.  After spending 2 weeks in Borneo at Matang Wildlife Center, I might have a new favorite country and to the surprise of many extended my vacation to a 3rd week.  The 3 weeks really helped recharge and refocus me.  I look forward to working hard but also taking time to explore SE Asia in the coming months/years.

Edgar with his dog Serefina
Taken at the Audubon Zoo

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy 25th Anniversary Smallworld!

Did you know?! 

Ubisense was founded by Smallworld founders and executives and our team of Smallworld consultants is the largest and most experienced in the world! 

December 5th 1988 Founders.
Can you find Ubisense CEO Richard Green?

Smallworld US launch, 1993
Can you spot Ubisense VP's, Jay Cadman and Peter Batty?

New Faces: Our Geoplan colleagues in Japan

Geoplan colleagues
Managing Director, Mr Nishizawa with Richard Green and the celebration cake

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We're Thankful for YOU!

To our American and Canadian friends, 
Have a warm and joyous holiday with your families. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

5 Steps to an Irrefutable ROI Report

Ubisense is keenly aware that time is valuable and each day that an organization operates without a tracking system means thousands of dollars lost due to operational inefficiencies. You need hard numbers to justify the spend internally but you don’t have time to tackle the research in addition to your day job. We get it and we can help you. We’ve developed a five step process that enables us to gather the information we need to deliver an irrefutable ROI report so you can get what you need.  

 Here’s our five-step process:

Step 1: Understand the process or processes that require improvement. Any existing data, such as value stream maps or efficiency studies, are reviewed if available.

Step 2: Ubisense visits your site to review the process(es) that require improvement in detail. The best starting point for this review is a physical walkthrough of the process (es) typically with the person who oversees the department. During this walkthrough, a critical Q&A session occurs to understand every aspect of the process(es), including all the ways things don’t go according to plan.

Step 3: On the same day, we regroup in a conference room and walk through the process(es) again, referring to a facility map, taking copious notes on process flow and gathering as many metrics as are available.

Step 4: The final stage of the site visit is to understand the financial terms for how operational efficiency is measured, and whether any specific company goals are being pursued. From this on-site visit, we learn about the great variability and customization of each individual product that makes the customer’s manufacturing process highly complex and difficult to manage.

Step 5: Ubisense delivers an irrefutable ROI report that includes the hard numbers and timeframe specific to your business operations, and you have the proof you need to gain purchasing approval

Friday, November 22, 2013

VIDEO: How to Calculate your Return-on-Investment (ROI)

Location tracking technologies exist. Popular ones include RFID, Real-time Location Systems (RTLS), GPS, and even barcoding. So what’s the best way to navigate which location solution is right for your organization? Let Ubisense help. We take the time to understand your unique business challenges and long-term plans, and then we identify what system will best address your needs now and in the future. Our ROI business case will show you the return on investment you can expect and when you can expect it.

Answering the critical question: What about the ROI?

This sounds great but how much is this going to cost?” “Can we even afford it?” 

Most times, the conversation ends here because these questions lack concrete answers. However, answering these questions becomes a lot easier when you have a Return-on-Investment Analysis in front of you. This document is based on a proven methodology and calculates the dollars your organization can save by implementing a real-time location intelligence solution. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Streamlining Manufacturing

The small plastic tags developed by a University spin-out are helping make modern assembly lines up to ten per cent more efficient, by tracking hundreds of components in three dimensions and in real time.

Getting the maximum visibility over what’s happening in a plant allows for maximum improvements in quality and process speed.
Andy Ward
Tracking technology developed by Cambridge company Ubisense can greatly improve the accuracy and reliability of manufacturing lines, while reducing assembly times by up to ten per cent, by determining the exact coordinates of an item within a given space.
Ubisense, which spun-out from the University’s Computer Laboratory in 2002 and went public in 2011, has developed a highly-sensitive real-time tracking system, which decreases losses and increases efficiency in the manufacturing sector. The company’s products are used by more than 500 companies in 50 countries worldwide, including major companies such as BMW and Airbus.
The assembly line which Henry Ford envisioned, where “any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black,” is a world away from modern lines. Today, purchasing a car involves a head-spinning number of options, from paint colour to engine size to satnav. While this is a plus for the consumer, it has made assembly lines vastly more complicated, where each car on the line is different than the one ahead of it, meaning that tool settings must be manually changed for each car. Ubisense’s technology can improve accuracy while reducing assembly time by as much as ten per cent, automatically adjusting tool settings so that the correct settings are always used on the correct car.
The technology was developed by Andy Ward while he was a PhD student at the Computer Laboratory. Dr Ward, who is now Ubisense’s Chief Technology Officer, originally devised a system to track individuals as they moved around the Lab.
“This was in the mid-1990s, before most people had mobile phones,” he says. “At the time, it was considered totally revolutionary, because you could find out where your colleagues were without having to play phone tag. But we soon figured out that not only could you reroute phone calls, you could do lots of other interesting things too: computer systems in the building could alter the way that they worked based on who was near them and what was going on around them.”
After leaving the University, Ward co-founded Ubisense and set out to develop a more accurate version of his tracking system, which could not only determine which room an individual or piece of equipment was in, but also exactly where they were located in that room, what equipment was nearby and what that equipment was doing.
Ubisense’s system can be likened to a super-charged radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. RFID tags, such as those found in Oyster cards, send out a signal when it reaches a particular point, such as a card reader, but Ubisense’s system allows for highly precise, continuous tracking. The radio-based system consists of transmitters embedded in small tags, roughly two centimetres square, and base stations installed around a building.
As a tagged item moves through a space, the base stations will identify its precise coordinates in real time. Where RFID is useful in applications such as inventory control, the Ubisense system is ideal for manufacturing lines, where many different component parts need to come together at a certain point in time.
For example, the company has recently established a relationship with Airbus. Although Airbus builds its aeroplanes in Toulouse, the major component assemblies (MCAs) of the planes are constructed at facilities all over Europe. As Airbus does not have storage in Toulouse for huge stockpiles of aeroplane parts, all of the MCAs must arrive in Toulouse together. Airbus tags the MCAs with Ubisense technology, so that Toulouse can track their progress in factories across Europe to ensure that they all arrive in Toulouse at the same time, where they are bolted together and the finished aeroplane is flown off.
In addition to Airbus, the Ubisense technology is used by BMW in several of its car factories, saving time by ensuring that the settings on the various tools used on the line are automatically adjusted as an individual worker moves from car to car along the line. Industry estimates that the Ubisense technology can cut assembly time for each car by as much as ten per cent.
“The goal of the technology is to get the most accurate view of what’s happening, because then the computer can make the most sensible decision about what to do next,” says Dr Ward. “We’re trying to build systems which reduce the amount of human interaction which is required. By taking people out of the loop, you can make a system more error-proof. Getting the maximum visibility over what’s happening in a plant allows for maximum improvements in quality and process speed.”
In just over a decade, the company has grown from four staff to nearly 200, and in addition to its head office and research facilities in Cambridge, it has offices in Paris, Dusseldorf, Denver, Singapore and Seoul.
The company maintains links with the Computer Laboratory, where it originated, collaborating on various research projects. Its technology is manufactured in the UK, at a facility in Bedford.
Ward says it was the characteristics of the Cambridge Cluster which enabled the company to get off the ground in the first place. “Everything we needed to build a successful company was right here, because Cambridge is such an interesting mix of industrial know-how, funding opportunities and academic expertise.”
For more information, contact sarah.collins@admin.cam.ac.uk
- See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/streamlining-manufacturing#sthash.ZQuA7nH5.dpuf

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New YouTube Account

Want to see more Ubisense videos? If so, then be sure to visit our new Ubisense YouTube Account. This channel features our favorite videos in one, easy-to-access spot,  including product demos, interviews, and customer case studies.

Friday, August 30, 2013

myWorld Plays Critical Role in Hurricane Sandy Recovery

Save Time & Increase Productivity with VeroTrack

VeroTrack highlights facilities surveyed and records gas readings and GPS coordinates automatically, eliminating the need to highlight paper maps and manually enter data. The gas leak survey tracking system integrates with a GIS and creates standardized reports and auditable records. Additionally, supervisors can view the status of each field surveyor in near real-time to ascertain progress at any given moment.

Natural gas utilities face increasingly stringent regulations that are requiring them to upgrade their internal systems to comply with standards in a more efficient and cost-effective way. VeroTrack enables natural gas utilities to save significant time and cost associated with surveying and reporting, and helps to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.