Find Yourself with a Real-Time Location System

Launched in 2020, omlox is the world’s first interoperable standard for location technology in industrial environments.

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Michael Bowne, executive director, PI North America
Michael Bowne, executive director, PI North America

Omlox is an open standard for a real-time location system (RTLS) in industry. The focus of omlox is to define open interfaces for an interoperable localization system. The standard enables interoperability and flexibility among different trackable providers within single or multiple tracking zones.

Until now, locating something in an industrial setting required proprietary hardware from a single vendor. That single vendor provided the transponders and infrastructure to provide location details for whatever was being tracked. Operability between providers was virtually nonexistent. Omlox changes all that.

The technology behind omlox consists of two parts: a hardware component and a software component. The hardware interface is known as the ‘omlox core zone’ and is built upon ultra-wide-band (UWB) technology. The UWB radio standard is often used for indoor locating tasks in factories, such as navigating automated guided vehicles, autonomous mobile robots or drones, and locating materials or orders. It is accurate to within inches, is relatively insensitive to interference, and consumes little power.

The software component is known as the ‘omlox hub’ and enables connection to the omlox core zone as well as other locating technologies such as RFID, 5G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, SLAM, and GPS. These connections are performed via an application programming interface (API). On the other side of the omlox hub, the API allows for connections to production control systems, goods tracking, or navigation orchestrators, for example. 

The origins and first use-case for omlox came from the machine tool industry. Customers noted that the biggest bottleneck in production came not from the throughput of the machines themselves, but locating and getting parts to the tools for machining. Since then, the potential use cases have grown to include robots, access control, analytics, fleet management, augmented reality, intralogistics, supply chain, and even social distancing.

Meanwhile, UWB has found its way into the consumer realm, being integrated into the latest flagship phones of the world’s largest smartphone makers. Such adoption is driving down associated component costs and opening up possibilities for integration into more diverse industrial products.

Interested in getting in on the ground floor of omlox? A first version of the specification has been drafted and work continues towards broad publication later this year. Also, omlox has joined forces with Profibus & Profinet International (PI) to help with standards work and visibility. Learn more at us.profinet.com/technology/omlox.

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