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The RTLS market is estimated to be valued at USD 3.9 billion in 2021 and reach USD 12.7billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 26.5%.Real-time location systems (RTLS) are local positioning and tracking systems used to locate and identify objects/people/targets automatically in real time, usually for indoor applications such as within buildings or other contained areas. RTLS tags/badges/sensors attached to objects or worn by people communicate wirelessly with fixed receivers/readers/trackers/exciters/reference points/access points installed in the vicinity. RTLS is not a specific type of system or technology but rather a goal that can be accomplished with a variety of systems for locating and managing assets/people. An RTLS may use different technologies for communication between tags and receivers, depending on the application/use case requirement. Various technologies, such as radio-frequency identification (RFID), wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi), ultrasound, infrared or infrared radiation (IR), ultra-wideband (UWB), and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), are used for precise locating or tracking applications in real time.

real time location systems market

Impact of Covid-19 onRTLS Market

The RTLS market has been witnessing significant growth over the past years, mainly owing to the high adoption of RTLS solutions in the healthcare, manufacturing and automotive, retail, and transportation and logistics verticals and growing adoption in emerging use cases. However, COVID-19 resulted in lockdowns across various countries, which led to decreased demand for RTLS devices from various verticals, including manufacturing, automotive, retail, healthcare, and transportation and logistics. Nevertheless, in the current scenario, the negative impact of COVID-19 seems to have gone down, and companies are adopting RTLS technology worldwide. There has been considerable demand for real-time monitoring across verticals such as healthcare, manufacturing, government, and defense. Due to this, companies are adopting RTLS technology at a faster pace. Also, the prices of hardware such as RFID, UWB, and software for RTLS have gone down and are estimated to go down in the coming years. These reasons will lead to RTLS market growth post covid.

Market Dynamics

Drivers: High return on investment

Installation of RTLS solutions may result in a reduced number of capital assets or inventory. RTLS solutions precisely track the location of assets, thereby helping industries record when an item is out of service and how long it spends in maintenance, which is an important cost-saving measure. Thus, by leveraging RTLS to better understand real-time utilization (dwell times vs. time in use), customers can limit their purchase and avoid owning more equipment than required. Thus, a high return on investment (RoI) can be achieved by preventing unnecessary capital expenditure, ensuring on-time availability of equipment, and minimizing or avoiding maintenance downtime, loss, theft, and day-to-day misplacement. RTLS solutions improve productivity results by shortening the time they take to locate an asset, which is particularly helpful for transportation, biomedical engineering, and nursing staff. Equipment searches and paperwork related to assets translate into delays for the overall process, adversely impacting productivity. RTLS systems minimize that timeframe and provide real-time data about all these assets with precise location, which leads to better productivity.

RTLS solutions are being increasingly deployed in supply chain operations of different industries to save time and minimize errors while improving the inventory turnover ratio, thereby saving costs and increasing return on investment. RTLS solutions do not just track assets and personnel; they also enable enterprises to manage their assets to boost productivity by analyzing the data captured and forecasting any potential errors. Many companies are offering big data analytics, along with RTLS, to provide enterprises with increased RoI and enable them to better manage their assets and personnel. In the healthcare industry, RTLS also helps save money by avoiding unnecessary rentals. Hospitals usually rent equipment from medical supply companies. However, the former can be smarter by knowing the location of their equipment and how frequently this equipment are used.

Restraints: Concerns regarding data security and privacy inhibit adoption of RTLS

Data security and privacy are among the major issues faced by personnel/staff in various industries, particularly in the healthcare domain. The threat of cyberattacks in healthcare has never been more prevalent and is a major issue for every organization looking to establish an RTLS entry point into their network and systems. RTLSs are revolutionizing various industries where the efficient utilization of resources is critical. RTLS provides the whereabouts of individuals at any time and offers the visibility required to keep people safe. However, union members in diverse industries complain that an RTLS solution can be used to monitor specific employees unfairly, that is, their break time and working hours, while in other cases, people are worried about the loss of their freedom.

Moreover, in the US, the amount of electronic data is doubling every three years, driven by the increased use of the Internet, smartphones, social networks, and the growth of machine-generated data, including RFID tags, sensors, and surveillance cameras. For example, the medical and health data of a patient can be disclosed outside the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protection by several sources while undertaking routine healthcare activities, such as credit card payments for physician visit copays and over-the-counter medications and visits to alternative medical practitioners. Therefore, with the expansion of the digital world, public concern regarding privacy is increasing.

Opportunities: BLE and UWB for indoor proximity services

Indoor location technologies are advancing as industries look for innovative ways to improve customer experiences and increase revenues. From indoor navigation, asset tracking, analytics, and proximity-based services, businesses and organizations are increasingly looking to capitalize on these services. In recent years, BLE Beacons have made a variety of indoor proximity services widely available through their low-cost, easy-to-use solutions. They are applicable for low-accuracy location services where the smartphone can detect proximity to beacons and know in which room or department the user is in. However, the beacons are not sufficient for use-cases with an inherent need for a more accurate position, and that is where the UWB solution comes in, providing accuracy indoors in centimeters.

The UWB spectrum was opened for commercial use in 2005 by the FCC for pulse-based transmission in the 3.1 to 10.6 GHz frequency range. Applications target sensor data collection and precision locating and tracking applications which is the focus here. With UWB, we measure the time it takes a signal to travel from a transmitter to a receiver to calculate the distance in centimeters. This method gives much better distance information than determining distance based on signal strength with iBeacons. The apps can receive precise location data (less than 20 cm deviation), and location updates can be delivered every 100 ms, if necessary. A user will carry a small UWB tag to monitor their exact location. The tag is equipped with a UWB transmitter and can feed off the phone’s USB port or a coin-size battery with a one-year lifetime. It sends out a ping signal via UWB for every location update and is also equipped with an acceleration meter, which will keep it at rest if it is not moving.

Challenges: Designing RTLS solutions that fulfill high accuracy, high range, and low power consumption requirements

Various RTLS solution providers offer different technologies for different applications. These solutions offer various technological advantages, such as high range, low power, and high accuracy. However, RTLS solution providers face the challenge of providing one solution with all the benefits. RTLS comprises hardware and software that are used to continuously track and deliver real-time locations of assets and resources. Tags, readers, or sensors are used to instantly track and monitor assets, people, or any resource of value with extremely high accuracy and mobility anywhere in the area covered by the network. However, RTLS tags face challenges because of a complicated trade-off between accuracy, power consumption, and range. Narrowband tags do not provide the accuracy required by some applications, while wideband tags provide accuracy but offer a limited range; moreover, some wideband tags are large and consume more power.

RTLS vendors must focus on reducing/eliminating the trade-off between range, accuracy, and power consumption. In RTLSs, the number of tags per network cell is an important factor to be considered as they vary depending on the application, such as personnel tracking in a hospital or asset tracking in a warehouse or other facilities. Many tags required for some applications could prove challenging for RTLS systems. Two factors—duration of the transmitted packet and rate of transmission (blink rate)—are important while considering the tag density as these are closely related. By increasing the efficiency of the network protocol and blink rate (short blink interval), the loss of packets may be acceptable and leads to an increase in the overall number of tags while retaining the tracking speed.

Hardware segmentis expected to dominate in the RTLS market during the forecast period

The hardware segment accounted for ~40% share of the total RTLS market in 2020. Hardware such as tags, badges, and readers are critical components in an RTLS and make up for a major part of the cost of the solution, owing to which the segment captured the largest share of the market in 2019. The software segment accounted for ~31% of the total RTLS market in 2020 and is expected to witness the highest growth during the forecast period. Organizations or companies using RTLS are expected to spend a significant amount on support and maintenance services regularly; hence, the RTLS market for services is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period.

UWB-based technology isexpected to witnessthe highest CAGRin the RTLS displaymarket during the forecastperiod

The market for UWB-based RTLS solutions is expected to grow at the highest CAGR of 33% during the forecast period. UWB technology based RTLS solutions provide more accurate data than RTLS solutions based on other technologies. UWB technology can support locating objects down to the range of a few centimeters. This is highly beneficial in high-intensity operations in the healthcare and manufacturing verticals. The rapid decline in the prices of UWB tags has also resulted in the increased implementation of these tags in RTLS solutions. The manufacturing and logistics industries are likely to be the major contributors to the market's growth for UWB-based RTLS solutions in the coming years.

North America is attributed to hold the largest share in overall RTLSmarket during the forecast period (2021-2026)

North America accounted for the largest share of the RTLS market, and a similar trend is likely to be observed during the forecast period. High demand from the healthcare sector is one of the key factors that has led to the leading position of this region in the RTLS market. Many hospitals and senior living facilities in North America, especially in the US, are using RTLS solutions for various applications. Additionally, several companies offering RTLS solutions have their presence in this region, which further adds to the growth of the RTLS market in North America. Stanley Black & Decker (US), Zebra Technologies (US), Aruba Networks (US), Impinj (US), Savi Technology (US), TeleTracking Technologies (US), and AiRISTA (US) are among a few of the key providers of RTLS solutions in North America.

Being technologically advanced and developed, North America is a leading market for cutting-edge technologies used in real-time applications of tracking and monitoring assets in industries. North America accounted for the largest share of ~44% of the global RTLS market in 2020. The region is one of the largest contributors to the RTLS market for the healthcare vertical due to the healthcare revolution in the region. Moreover, the US is the largest RTLS market in North America, and the growth of the market in the country can be attributed to its well-established economy, which allows for investments in new technologies. The rising adoption of RTLS solutions and increasing adoption of RTLS in healthcare, industrial, manufacturing, and commercial applications are also contributing to the growth of the market in North America.

real time location systems market by region

Key Market Players

RTLS Market was dominated by Stanley Black & Decker (US)Zebra Technologies (US)Aruba Networks (US)Impinj (US), and Savi Technology (US).

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Scope of the Report

Report Metric

Details

Market size available for years

2017–2026

Base year

2020

Forecast period

2021–2026

Units

Value USD Million and USD Billion

Segments covered

Offering, Application, Technology, Vertical and Region

Geographic regions covered

North America, Europe, APAC, and RoW

Companies covered

The companies covered in the RTLS market are Stanley Black & Decker (US), Zebra Technologies (US), Aruba Networks (US), Impinj (US), Savi Technology (US), TeleTracking Technologies (US), Ubisense (UK), AiRISTA Flow (US), Sonitor (Connecticut), Alien Technology (US), Decawave (Ireland), Redpine Signals (US) CenTrack (US), OpenRTLS (US), Litum Technologies (US), GE Healthcare (US), and BlueIOT (US).

This report categorizes the Real-time location systems market based on application, panel size, resolution and brightness, vertical, and region.

RTLS Market, By Offering

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Services

Market, By Technology

  • RFID
  • Wi-Fi
  • UWB
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • Infrared (IR)
  • Ultrasound
  • GPS
  • Others

RTLS Market, By Application

  • Inventory/asset tracking & management
  • Personnel/staff locating & monitoring (includes patient tracking)
  • Access control/security
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Yard, dock, fleet & warehouse management & monitoring
  • Supply chain management & operational automation/visibility (includes container tracking and work-in-progress tracking)
  • Others

Market, By Vertical

  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing and automotive
  • Retail
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Government and defense
  • Education
  • Oil & gas, mining
  • Sports & entertainment
  • Others

RTLS Market, By Region

  • North America
  • Europe
  • APAC
  • Rest of the World (RoW)

Recent Developments

  • In October 2021, Stanley Black & Decker and Eastman announced their partnership to create power tools with a sustainable focus.
  • In October 2021, Zebra Technologies announced its partnership with Fetch robotics. This acquisition happened to accelerate the enterprise asset intelligence and growth in intelligent industrial automation by embracing new modes of empowering workflows.
  • In November 2020, Datamars Textile ID and Impinj officially sealed their strategic partnership in the RAIN RFID laundry market. This was done to bring the laundry market continuous progress and innovations.
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