By: Flexxbotics April 2021

Bluetooth & Manufacturing

How and why Bluetooth will inevitably be
incorporated on the manufacturing floor

You get up for work and tell your Alexa to turn on the news while you get ready. You go downstairs and your kids say that they need you to sign a permission slip for a school field trip. You’re a bit late so you tell them to air drop the form while you make them breakfast. You get in your car and your phone pairs with your car’s sound system. Your favorite podcast passes the time while you cope with your commute.

What do all these activities have in common? They’re powered by Bluetooth. Our personal lives have become so reliant on Bluetooth in the past 10 years it’s sometimes hard to imagine life without this connectivity technology. So how come something essential to our personal connectivity has not made its way into manufacturing? Especially since it is an industry fragmented by multiple devices dependent on crucial synchronization.

Well it’s a few factors. First being the previous versions of Bluetooth had limited signal, strength and reliability. Second being the speed at which information could be transmitted was not adequate for most industrial applications. Bluetooth 5.0 however has addressed many of these issues. With these latest upgrades, Bluetooth is poised to become a dominant communication in manufacturing. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should plan to see Bluetooth more on factory floors.

Bluetooth is resistant
to interference

Bluetooth breaks its messages into small packets of information that are sent in succession over a short period of time. The devices can be preset to look for each other ensuring the information is transmitted directly to the intended source. Any information that fails to send the first time will be resent until it successfully is transmitted.

Bluetooth is inherently
designed with security

Bluetooth is designed with two security measures in mind. First, Bluetooth randomizes the sequences of data it transmits so it is hard for outsiders to comprehend the information being sent. Second, Bluetooth requires pairing, which makes it very difficult for third parties to intercept data. Compared to a wired or wireless Ethernet connection, Bluetooth is much more safe and secure. Ethernet connections are exposed to the outside world, while Bluetooth is local to the devices being used in your facility.

Bluetooth’s range is greater
than you might think

Bluetooth operating distances have been significantly improved. It is not uncommon for certain bluetooth devices to successfully transmit signals 100 meters away. Bluetooth can also be used as a mesh technology, where information is passed from one bluetooth node to another until a message reaches its destination. This capability greatly improves the already impressive range of Bluetooth.

Flexxbotics sees this trend approaching quickly and has developed Flexx Beacon to utilize this powerful technology. Flexx Beacon connects a robot to your workcell through Bluetooth beacons and scanners. Once your robot is in proximity of a workstation with a bluetooth beacon, your operator is prompted with crucial information on how to set up the robot specifically to that workstation. Pair this with the Flexx Reference and you’re easily able to offset your robot. Setup time and complexity is now greatly reduced so that any operator can maneuver your robot throughout your facility.

Contact Flexxbotics to learn more about how Flexx Beacon can optimize your automation process