Indoor positioning for dynamic industrial environments

March 23, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
For indoor areas, localization technologies like GPS are not available. This makes locating difficult especially in shipyards. As a result of the construction process, the environment in shipbuilding is constantly changing. A locating system, developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and its partners Meyer Werft and Vomatec Innovations as part of the SchiV 3.0 project, allows people to be located in a dynamic environment within a hall.

Unlike in the automotive industry with their fixed production lines, ships are manufactured in the "block construction" principle. Small units are used to create larger units. These are partly already walkable, are equipped with cables and pipes and are finally joined to sections. Ten sections, in turn, form a block, which is further equipped and finally transported to the yard. A cruise ship, for example, consists of 90 such blocks.

"The localization of people and the timely transmission of safety-related information is extremely difficult in such a situation," explains Wilhelm Stork, head of the Institute of Technology in the information processing of the KIT. At present, for example, the detection and transmission of security threats and risks, such as missing railings, exposed cables or easily flammable construction waste, are carried out manually. Routes run the ship off and capture critical conditions such as combustible materials near hot work on paper forms. At the end of their inspection, they give this information to their supervisor, who in turn initiates the necessary measures.

"The potential for innovation is enormous if one is to regulate processes with the help of digital technologies," says Frank Hartmann of the Institute for Technology in Information Processing at KIT. Hartmann has developed a localization system that not only enables faster resolution of safety risks and increases in working safety. It also helps to optimize the logistics and document the construction progress almost in real-time. Its system has a hybrid approach: along with the necessary infrastructure of the construction site - such as the power supply - antennas are laid for a short-range radio communication system. From the measurement of the distance to several antennas, the position can be determined by trilateration. If the radio contact to the antennas in the angled, steel ship's belly is too weak, the position is estimated by means of the motion and acceleration sensors of a mobile terminal and dead reckoning navigation. "This enables us to achieve a sufficient positional accuracy with a reasonable installation effort," explains Hartmann.