An indoor tracking solution for manufacturing shop floors is operating at UK Technology Hub

Make UK has collaborated with technology start-up FloWide on a tracking system that means that a digital version of a shop floor is accessible online with the real time location of every tracked item.

The system provides a ‘GPS-like’ indoor tracking solution for the manufacturing shop floor. It is composed of electronic tags and anchors on the hardware, coupled with a highly customisable software interface. Tags are fixed on mobile items within the manufacturing shop floor: forklifts, trolleys, boxes or directly on the parts. The anchors are placed in key locations around the shop floor.

It means that a digital version of the shop floor is accessible online with the real time location of every tracked item.

“FloWide approached us two years ago as a start-up business trying to establish itself in the UK,” explains Stephen Mitchell, director of apprentices and technical training at Make UK. “Whilst other similar tracking systems exist, the appeal was the ease of simplicity of installation.

“We were looking at opportunities to showcase and use data-rich applications as part of our Apprenticeship Delivery, so it became clear we could help each other,” he continues. “The pandemic delayed implementation, but I am excited to now have this added capability in our training facility.”

Vincent Borgraeve, co-founder of FloWide, added: “We chose to install our system at Make UK because of their pivotal role in UK manufacturing. Our short-term goal is to bring manufacturers on site so that they can experience our solution and its benefits.

“Our long-term goal is to make apprentices familiar with location tracking,” he continues. “We strongly believe that today’s apprentices are digital natives who will accelerate the adoption of digital manufacturing.”

 

In operation, the FloWide system is designed to deliver value to manufacturers through three main types of applications:

  • Tool finder: search for items on the shop floor and display their real time location on a map      
  • Automatic reporting: easily collate metrics (heatmaps, bottlenecks, spaghetti diagram and utilisation rate etc) to provide real time insight
  • Supporting workers: our system interacts with workers, guiding them through their work and alerting them before mistakes (misplacements) happen.

The benefits to manufacturers include:

  • Visibility: no matter where you are working, on site or off site, you can log into the platform to get a real time view of your shop floor
  • Agility and resilience: by tracking items you can quickly optimise new processes and get back margins to keep pace with the fast-evolving world around you.

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