In our space for innovation, we are exploring multiple concepts to make the lives of field staff easier. One of them is ALIS – our new asset localization and identification system. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to navigate field workers and help them execute their work orders.
The potential of BLE as unassuming small devices that transmit information has long been overlooked. In the Resco ALIS Lab, we are modifying this technology to make them meet industry requirements. We are also integrating them into our software solutions to unlock their capabilities.
Resco ALIS Lab
Resco ALIS Lab is one of the resco.Labs projects that we launched to bring game-changing technology to mobile workers. The mentor of this lab is Radomir Vozar, one of the founders of Resco. He works in the lab alongside Resco experts from various backgrounds: hardware and software development, UX and UI, sales, and marketing.
In this article, Radomir Vozar explains:
- How ALIS works
- How it can be used in the field
- How you can leverage ALIS with the Resco platform
- How to apply for a Resco ALIS pilot in your company
How ALIS works
The basic unit of ALIS is a BLE device also called a beacon. It passively transmits a low-energy signal in short, regular intervals. The signal carries simple information. It can be a serial number, or an ID used in computer systems.
The information that is sent out from the beacon can be configured.
In the basic setup, a beacon contains a chip, an antenna, and a battery with a life span of 10 years or more – all encased in a protective shell.
In addition, we can fit a beacon with a sensor to monitor temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, light, motion, vibrations, or air quality.
Another useful enhancement is a LED or voice signal hardware extension, helping better identify an asset in situations where more assets are located next to each other.
NIVY Watch, the daughter company of Resco, will be lending their expertise to the Resco ALIS Lab and helping create enterprise-quality beacons with the related software necessary for integrating with the existing Resco platform.
Beacons are exceptionally low-cost. They don’t require complicated infrastructure, implementation, and maintenance.
A beacon is stationary, meant to sit in one place. You can stick it to any asset. We can customize it for use with a magnet, a zip tie, a screw, or an adhesive. It is wireless and does not require any cables.
Distance and localization
The primary benefit of a beacon is that you can tell how far you are from it.
How is that possible? The radio magnetic waves from a beacon leave the device in all directions. As they travel, they get weaker, meaning their magnitude is getting smaller. By reading the magnitude, you can guess the distance from a beacon with a high enough precision to localize your asset.
With multiple beacons in a network, you can use this distance measurement to localize them in space.
To make use of the beacons, you need a device that can pick up and decipher its signals. The good news is that most mobile phones and tablets now have Bluetooth receivers. Anyone with a smartphone and a dedicated mobile app can read the signals and enjoy the benefits of beacons.
If you are asking where to get one of these dedicated mobile apps, the short answer is that we are adding beacon support to our platform through the Resco ALIS Lab. It will be possible to add this Resco platform feature without any coding to Inspections and Field Service use cases.
You can find more info about joining the pilot program at the end of this article.
How beacons can be used in the field
In the following paragraphs, we will explore the potential of beacons in everyday situations.
If a field worker has a mobile app that can read and interpret signals from the beacons, it can save him (and his back-office colleagues) a lot of hassle.
The first practical use of beacons is asset localization.
An example of an asset is an air conditioning system. Large buildings have tens or even hundreds of air conditioning units. When a service technician inspects and services one of these devices, he needs to get to it, read or scan its barcode, find its IDs, and start filling in the work order.
It is not always easy to find the asset. The technician may not be familiar with the site; a third party could have done the installation. The asset may be hidden behind a ceiling construction. We know from experience that in complex sites, e.g., large plants with a lot of piping, it can take up to a few hours to localize a single asset.
If we stick a beacon to each asset, the field worker can perform a simple scan on his mobile app and see all assets on the site. With a list of assets, their distance, and direction, he can quickly identify the asset he is looking for. The time saved can be remarkable.
Identification of an asset and related documents
Once the field worker has located the asset, he must start an asset-related inspection, or field service work order.
The beacon transmits a unique ID together with other asset-specific information. The mobile application on his smartphone receives this information set and simply runs and pre-fills the related Inspection or Field Service work order with all the data. Moreover, this can all be done with only one click. This can save significant time and avoid incorrect data input.
Making sure the technician is at the site
The next area where beacons can come in handy is monitoring the presence of a field technician at the asset. When it comes to medical equipment or devices that comply with regulations, it is crucial to ensure the technician has been at the site and inspected the correct device.
With beacons, you can monitor the time the field service technician has spent in close proximity to the asset.
Sign up for a Resco ALIS pilot
As you can see, beacons can improve the work of field service technicians in multiple ways. There are many options for exploring their potential. That’s why we need you, our valued customers and partners, to tell us what is most valuable for you.
Right now, we are looking for companies that will join the first Labs pilot program. We will tailor the hardware and software to their use cases. If you can imagine beacons working for you, get in touch, and we can discuss how we can meet your needs.
Interested? Let’s talk: