IoT Work In Progress Tracking Software Using BLE Beacons

Use Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to automate work in progress (WIP) tracking and inventory management for the custom manufacturing projects.

Using Bluetooth Technology For WIP Inventory And Production Process Tracking

Manage work in progress (WIP) inventory, track production process for the manufacturing orders efficiently without a need to constantly scan every single part. Label materials, parts, and components included in the bill of materials for the manufacturing assemblies with the BLE beacon tags as you receive inventory in the warehouse. Once the bill of materials inventory is labeled, track inventory movement through the manufacturing production process automatically using smartphones or stationary Bluetooth low energy (BLE) gateways.

Here is how IoT and Bluetooth technology optimizes your manufacturing production process and WIP inventory tracking:

  • Easy and fast WIP inventory tracking from receiving to the end product. Label incoming inventory for the manufacturing orders with the BLE tags (BLE beacons). Track inventory through the manufacturing process in real time using smartphones for the fast bulk scanning of BLE beacon tags, or fixed Blueooth gateways for automatic WIP inventory tracking.
  • Real time WIP inventory reports.
  • Smartphones or Bluetooth gateways send WIP tracking data to the backend cloud software. A cloud software processes inventory data and produces real time reports on the WIP inventory flow. Check live status of everything in production, parts and components traceability reports, past manufacturing orders history and more via a secure web dashboard.
  • Manufacturing orders traceability. Make sure you have a complete traceability for the manufacturing orders. Track lot numbers of components installed on serialized assemblies, trace each component back to its origin and record / access required details.
  • Track WIP inventory on the racks, skids and pallets. When a pallet, rack or skid is moved between locations, all inventory on the pallet moves along with it. No need to track individual components separately as you move pallets with the bill of materials inventory for the assembly around the warehouse, to the staging area and to the production.
  • Use smartphones for data collection. Fill out paperwork on a smartphone or tablet on the shop floor using custom mobile forms. Attach mobile forms (such as quality control, inspection checklist, product testing, problem report, etc.) to the correct WIP step. Shop floor employees will be able to access the correct mobile form for the current WIP step on the smartphone that reads BLE beacon signal, fill out the form and submt to the backend cloud WIP tracking software in real time.
  • Use IoT sensors to support correct environmental conditions. For the temperature and humidity sensitive products and components install temperature and / or humidity IoT sensors at the staging and production zones. Receive alerts if the conditions become harmful for the components and parts, WIP assemblies or the finished products.

Automated IoT WIP Inventory Tracking Using Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon Tags

Use Bluetooth low energy (BLE beacon tags) to automate WIP inventory tracking. BLE beacon tags is the only hardware you need for the efficient work in progress tracking. Company employees can use smartphones to bulk scan WIP inventory as they move parts and materials from storage to staging to production. You can also use Bluetooth IoT gateways for tracking WIP inventory and manufacturing orders without any human participation.

Bluetooth inventory tracking is a less expensive and more robust alternative to RFID inventory tracking. As with RFID tags, you can bulk scan WIP inventory as you move it from storage to staging to production, and install on the assembly. Unlike RFID, company employees can track WIP inventory with the smartphones. Ability to use smartphones not only makes the whole WIP tracking system less expensive and more robust, but also more familiar to the company employees - since they use their smartphones every day.

When inventory is tagged with the BLE beacons shop floor employees do not need to find a label and manually scan each part or component. They can bulk scan a whole batch of WIP inventory as it is moved along the process by clicking a button in the mobile application, without even touching any of the items. They can also enter any data that need to be collected on each WIP step of the manufacturing process - the option not available with the RFID readers.

If you prefer to make WIP tracking process completely automatic, use stationary Bluetooth gateways to automatically track WIP inventory as it moves through the manufacturing process steps. The drawback of this method is the additional cost of the Bluetooth gateways, and the fact that no additional information on the WIP inventory can be collected.

Regardless of which WIP inventory trackers you select - smartphones or IoT Bluetooth gateways - WIP tracking information is transmitted to the backend cloud software in real time. WIP tracking system administrators can review live status of the WIP inventory and manufacturing orders on the office computers via a secure web interface.

IoT WIP Tracking Software With End-To-End Traceability

Track parts, components and materials by lot numbers or serial numbers. Trace each lot from origin to the use in the final product.

QR Inventory WIP tracking fully supports lot numbers and serial numbers tracking. When you receive a new raw materials lot, record all data that you need to keep track of in the mobile application. Once a new lot number is in the system, you can automatically track it through the manufacturing process steps. Authorized employees can access a component, part or material lot information on a smartphone at any moment, and add information during production if necessary.

As a result, you know the whole history of each product lot. You know which lot numbers or serial numbers of components are installed on each assembly or sub-assembly, the entire history and recorded information for each component.

Along with the lot numbers / serial numbers tracking, you can fill out quality control forms, inspection checklists and / or testing results forms on the smartphone on each WIP step, and add completed forms to the final product documentation.

If there is a reported problem, you have all required information to address it quickly and efficiently.

Live WIP Status For The Manufacturing Orders

Have a real time visibility into the WIP inventory and manufacturing orders progress for the entire team.

All work in progress data collected on the shop floor through the Bluetooth beacon tags and a smartphone or a Bluetooth gateway are sent to a backend WIP tracking software in real time. Authorized team members can access all required information on each manufacturing order:

  • Manufacturing order bill of materials (BOM) list, BOM inventory purchase order status and storage location.
  • WIP inventory status and transactions history
  • Manufacturing order status and production history: completed steps, who completed them, what time did it take, if there were any problems, etc.
  • Lot numbers and serial numbers of used parts, components and materials
  • Completed product acceptance, quality control and testing forms

If something does not go according to the production plan: failed testing or inspection, missing inventory on the BOM list, machinery problems, change in the environmental conditions that could cause problems to the components and / or the final product - receive immediate alerts and correct the situation fast.

IoT WIP Tracking With Custom Data Collection

Record and access all required manufacturing order information for a complete WIP traceability.

QR Inventory software gives warehouse and shop floor employees the right tools to record all WIP data that you need for traceability and accountability. They use smartphones for BLE beacon tags scanning, tracking WIP inventory, recording data and filling out mobile forms. Administrators access all collected data in real time on the office computers, for the current and past manufacturing orders. Customize what data you need to collect and which forms to fill out via a secure admin web interface:

  • Collect any information that you need on the parts, components and materials used in production. Define what information you need to collect via the QR Inventory software web dashboard.
  • Track incoming manufacturing order parts, components and materials by SKU, lot number or serial number. Record required information on each lot number or serialized components.
  • Create granular warehouse and staging locations to organize BOM inventory for the complex multi-level assemblies. Automatically track inventory movement using either smartphones or Bluetooth gateways for capturing BLE beacons data.
  • Create custom workflow and WIP steps for your manufacturing process.
  • Track manufacturing order through the work in progress steps with a smartphone and BLE beacons scanning, or automatically using Bluetooth IoT gateways.
  • Create custom mobile forms that shop floor employees will fill out on the smartphones or tablets during the production process.
  • ... and more

Hardware For The IoT WIP Tracking (BLE Beacon Tags And Optional BLE Gateways)

You need the following components for the IoT WIP tracking using Bluetooth technology:

  • Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons.
  • A way to transfer BLE beacons data to the cloud. You can use either smartphones or dedicated Bluetooth IoT gateways.
  • A cloud software that accepts and processes BLE beacons data and produces WIP tracking reports.

Using a smartphone for WIP tracking requires some involvement of the shop floor employees. They will need to use a WIP tracking mobile application to scan BLE beacons, enter additional information if required, and submit data to the cloud. Depending on the specific function, a mobile application will either scan all nearby BLE beacons (when you need to bulk move inventory between locations), or find a closest BLE beacon when you need to access inventory, sub-assembly or assembly information or fill out a form.

With the dedicated Bluetooth gateways WIP tracking is done automatically without any human participation. However if / when you need to collect additional data on the process or fill out mobile forms, a shop floor employee will need to get involved and do this using a smartphone.

Physically BLE beacon is a small lightweight plastic tag. It is round, square, or rectangular, an inch or two in width and length, and around half an inch or less thick. Bluetooth beacon tags do not require a line of sight to be scanned. You can put them inside boxes or containers, attach to the pallets, or attach them directly to the components and assemblies. QR Inventory software will work with the Bluetooth low energy beacon tags purchased from us, as well as with the Bluetooth tags purchased from the other vendors.

If you want to use Bluetooth gateways for the automatic tracking of the WIP inventory and manufacturing orders, you will need to install a Bluetooth IoT gateway at each process station and in the inventory staging areas. Bluetooth gateways will automatically pick up a signal from the BLE beacons that are coming in the range, and transmit these data to the backend WIP tracking software for processing.

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QR Inventory and QR Mobile Data are brand names of inventory management and mobile forms software by AHG -- a provider of mobile and cloud-based applications for business. Our unified mobile platform improves business operations efficiency by eliminating manual tasks and physical paperwork, while providing a secure cloud storage for the business records, real time access to business data for all stakeholders, comprehensive data reporting and analytics. Headquartered in beautiful Boise, Idaho, AHG software is used to manage hundreds of millions of dollars annually in inventory and assets.

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See It For Yourself - Bluetooth Assets And Inventory Tracking In Action