Unlocking the Power of Bluetooth Beacons in Inventory and Supply Chain Management

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Keiley Ostrow

Keiley Ostrow: A logistics visionary with 30+ years of expertise innovating operational processes and delivering top-tier service. At Reelables, we are pioneering smart label solutions in supply chain and inventory management.

Bluetooth Beacons are rapidly evolving from their traditional role in retail settings to become indispensable tools in inventory and supply chain use cases. In this article, we’ll delve into the inner workings of Bluetooth Beacons, shedding light on their pivotal role and their relationship with gateways.

Understanding the Basics

First, let’s start with some essential definitions:

Bluetooth: This term refers to a technology for transmitting information over mid to short-range distances using radio waves.

Bluetooth Beacon: Often referred to as a tag, Bluetooth beacons come in various form factors such as plastic squares, tags, or labels. These battery-powered devices transmit radio waves, including their unique identifiers and data from attached sensors like temperature and humidity. Some beacons have memory chips for storing sensor data. Unlike devices like Bluetooth speakers or activity trackers that engage in bidirectional communication, Bluetooth beacons primarily transmit data.

Gateway: Also known as an access point, data gateway, or reader, a gateway’s role is to detect Bluetooth beacons, gather their data, and relay it to the cloud. Gateways can be stationary devices, mobile GPS trackers, or even your smartphone. They vary in reading capabilities, including the ability to determine distance and the volume of beacons within their range. They encompass data processing, known as edge computing, and connect to the cloud via ethernet, Wi-Fi, or cellular networks.

Making It Operational

Now, let’s explore how Bluetooth beacons and gateways work together:

Beacon Location: Bluetooth beacons are unaware of their location, and this information is provided by their respective gateway. When a beacon enters the proximity of a gateway, it is considered to have “entered” the zone. Conversely, when the gateway no longer detects a beacon, it is deemed to have “exited” the zone.

So, how does this translate into real-world applications?

Elevating Supply Chain and Inventory Visibility

Traditionally, Bluetooth beacons have found their niche in temperature logging and monitoring for high-value or high-risk items, such as food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.

Enter the Reelables Bluetooth label solution. It offers a cost-effective way to track a broader range of items, including pallets in shipments, cartons within pallets, products on store shelves, equipment transitioning between rooms, and supplies during storage and use. With Reelables’ Bluetooth temperature label, ambient temperature can be monitored throughout a product’s lifecycle.

In supply chain scenarios, visibility can extend to piece-level point-to-point tracking with stationary gateways positioned at key locations within facilities and zones where products move. These gateways can trigger alerts when items do not depart or arrive as expected. Furthermore, mobile gateways enable real-time tracking of individual cartons, helping to identify any losses during transit.

In Conclusion:

Bluetooth beacons, in tandem with gateways, are revolutionizing inventory and supply chain management, providing a cost-effective and efficient way to track, monitor, and secure a wide array of products and assets. Their potential is vast, and their applications continue to expand, making them a vital component in the modern supply chain landscape.

Reelables smart labels automate data collection with real-time visibility into supply chain operations and performance. Our Bluetooth tracking labels actively communicate location, reducing human error and eliminating the need to manually scan inventory or operate complicated tracking devices. 

Paper-thin labels are easy to use for tracking shipments and inventory at the item level, and consistent visibility increases accountability and reduces loss and theft.

Smart label tracking solutions are ideal for companies that want to evolve past standard barcode labeling to gain more data insights and product status visibility for better customer service and efficiency.

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