Turn on a Led wirelessly

Let me talk about my project
Problem: A storage room has 300 boxes ~ and they are moving along the day, it takes around 30 minutes to find a box.
Solution: Use an Arduino as a transmitter (RF or Bluethoot), use a receiver in each box. The transmitter sends an identifier wirelessly inside the storage room and the box containing that identifier turns on to led or alert with a beep.
This solution would reduce the time from 30 mins to 3 mins.
Any suggestion, experience is welcome.

Thank you,
-Israck

That seems completely possible, depending on the size of the room. Since you don't care about 2-way communication you could use something like the really simple 433MHz transmitter/receivers (guide HERE). NRF24L01 modules would be another good option and there are plenty of guides for using them with Arduino.
If you wanted to be able to change the ID of each receiver part and still wanted to keep it simple you could use a set of DIP switches to set the ID, otherwise you could just change the ID in the sketch each time you upload it to a difference receiver.

My first question is, why are the boxes moving around the store during the day? Maybe the whole process needs a rethink, but let's assume there's a good reason for that. (WIP moving between stations in a factory for example, would be a good reason, but you say it's storage?)

However, given that they do need to move, why is someone not keeping track of where they move to? There should be a simple relationship between boxNumber and rackNumber, so that if box43, is at location A27 now, and then gets moved to location B99, someone writes that down. (Write as in on a clipboard, or into a database.)

So when you want box43, look up where it is and go straight to location B99.

I think you may be scratching the wrong itch.

Also need to address how to power the receivers in the boxes.
433 Mhz receivers are power hungry, as are most others so running off batteries will require frequent battery replacement.

Invest in a pager system like they use at restaurants. Tape them to the boxes. Page the box you want.

I'm guessing that you need to find a particular box because the person searching knows that the green widget is in Box 47. So why not just put large numbers on the boxes and keep a list (either on paper or on a tablet) of what is in each box. If the boxes can't be stored so the numbers are visible then your system needs fixing - not electronics.

On the other hand if it really takes 30 minutes to find a box I suspect it is because the person does NOT know which box contains the green widget and has to search in dozens of boxes before s/he finds what s/he wants. Putting wireless on the boxes won't solve that problem.

...R
Simple nRF24L01+ Tutorial

Robin2 and I "are on the same page here" (much as I hate the cliche): this is an industrial engineering problem, ie it's to do with the system, the work processes, that kind of thing.

I'd wager that throwing tech at this will ultimately be a waste of money, since it won't be treating the actual problem, which I think (admittedly absent lots of facts) is a fundamental issue to do with the way you work.

I'd spend half a day in there asking folk what they're actually doing, and more importantly, why? What's this box doing here? Why did you just move it here from over there? Who needs the thing that's inside this box.... Simple questions of what where who when why and how, to uncover the real issues.

Israck7:
Let me talk about my project
Problem: A storage room has 300 boxes ~ and they are moving along the day, it takes around 30 minutes to find a box.
Solution: Use an Arduino as a transmitter (RF or Bluethoot), use a receiver in each box. The transmitter sends an identifier wirelessly inside the storage room and the box containing that identifier turns on to led or alert with a beep.
This solution would reduce the time from 30 mins to 3 mins.
Any suggestion, experience is welcome.

Thank you,
-Israck

Please send more info.

Are these the same 300 boxes each day, like tubs to hold products?

How do they move around the room? people, forklift or conveyor belt.

Beeps in a warehouse enviro can get you close but echos can lead you astray.

Daz

Daz1712:
Beeps in a warehouse enviro can get you close but echos can lead you astray.

I've heard before that we can actually locate low-frequency sounds much more accurately than high-frequency sounds. That's to do with how human ears and brains work.

Anyway, I agree with all the above. First figure out why those boxes move around in the first place, and why it's so hard to find the correct one. I once worked in a storage warehouse, and everything had its own place - and was supposed to stay there. Saves a lot of searching.

wvmarle:
I once worked in a storage warehouse, and everything had its own place - and was supposed to stay there. Saves a lot of searching.

Me too. The only wrinkle in that particular place was sometimes due to bad ordering, some bins would overflow. Then the warehouse guy would just stick a note on the bin saying "more on the floor at the back near the toilets" or whatever, and then at the pile on the floor he stuck a note "bin 27 overflow". (No H&S in those days....)

Apart from that, dead simple. Got incoming parts to bin? Key in part number, get bin number back. Bin numbers were written on the ends of the racks, like in a library.

As I said, I can see the need for boxes to move if they contain wip going through the steps of manufacture, but not in a store.

In case of manufacturing, the box would normally move along a specific route, so is still easy to track and find, if needs be.

wvmarle:
I've heard before that we can actually locate low-frequency sounds much more accurately than high-frequency sounds. That's to do with how human ears and brains work.

Low frequencies are less directional (which is why subwoofer placement is not crucial) but an off kilter center channel can really throw off the sound stage. So you've got it a little backwards.
If lower frequencies worked better, fire trucks and ambulances would probably be blasting some gangsta rap instead of using those piercing sirens :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

High pitched sounds are more irritating and harder to ignore than low pitched sounds. Just like the cries of a baby.

I am curious about the transmitter, though. How does it know which signal to send?
300 buttons? Keypad? Voice command? Serial input from a proper computer with inventory number?

Cheap RF receivers are likely the simplest option. I mean the receivers that can control an LED without any additional hardware. They have 4 pins that will go high depending on 4 different RF codes you'd send, and a pin that goes high when any code is detected. So a board like this, battery, LED/resistor, and you'd have a complete receiver.
You'd change addresses of receivers by soldering jumpers on the back, each address can have 4 unique signals, and there are more addresses than you will ever need.

Whether the LED will be bright enough in your environment to be visible is your call. You can always add a transistor and run something more powerful by using that receiver's high signal.

BJHenry:
That seems completely possible, depending on the size of the room. Since you don't care about 2-way communication you could use something like the really simple 433MHz transmitter/receivers (guide HERE). NRF24L01 modules would be another good option and there are plenty of guides for using them with Arduino.
If you wanted to be able to change the ID of each receiver part and still wanted to keep it simple you could use a set of DIP switches to set the ID, otherwise you could just change the ID in the sketch each time you upload it to a difference receiver.

Thank you for your ideas, I will read more about /rf-433mhz-transmitter-receiver-module-with-arduino before to buy it and test it.

juma_yetu:
My first question is, why are the boxes moving around the store during the day? Maybe the whole process needs a rethink, but let’s assume there’s a good reason for that. (WIP moving between stations in a factory for example, would be a good reason, but you say it’s storage?)

However, given that they do need to move, why is someone not keeping track of where they move to? There should be a simple relationship between boxNumber and rackNumber, so that if box43, is at location A27 now, and then gets moved to location B99, someone writes that down. (Write as in on a clipboard, or into a database.)

So when you want box43, look up where it is and go straight to location B99.

I think you may be scratching the wrong itch.

Thank you for you message.

  1. Your solution should be work if the person’s will train on how to keep the order each box that but the reality is other.
  2. The reason why the boxes are being moved along the store is because different persons(4) during the day grab boxes to deliver and other boxes arrive to the store to be delivered. I understand that here clearly is an issue with the process how this company manage these boxes order.

mauried:
Also need to address how to power the receivers in the boxes.
433 Mhz receivers are power hungry, as are most others so running off batteries will require frequent battery replacement.

Thank you for your message, I will read more about that module and how to keep these modules powered.

Israck7:
different persons(4) during the day grab boxes to deliver and other boxes arrive to the store to be delivered.

That adds a practical problem.... when a box arrives it will have to have its electronics added from a pool. Then you will need to record that transmitterNumber92 has been added to orderNumber20180407/12345, and when the worker wants to find orderNumber20180407/12345 the system has to beep transmitterNumber92,

Then when orderNumber20180407/12345 is taken for delivery, transmitterNumber92 has to be removed and returned to the pool, and the system has to show that transmitterNumber92 is not allocated to an order.

So now you need to train them to:

  • Remember to add electronics from the pool
  • Update the system to match electronics to box
  • Remember to take the electronics out when the box leaves
  • Update the system to show electronics module is free to re-use
  • Physically return the electronics to the pool

That's more complicated than telling the staff to keep track of where the bloody boxes are in the first place.

If this is true:

if the person's will train on how to keep the order each box that but the reality is other.

.... then you need to counsel* the workers on their attitude.

*in the old days,that would have a been a simple matter of saying "get your finger out your arse or you're fired". Nowadays of course there's a whole load of workers' rights bollocks that gets in the way of such simple solutions

Those boxes then must have some form of shipping label - those usually have a bar code with a shipping number. You can use that number to identify the box, fair chance you're doing that already. Add bar codes to the shelves, so they're numbered as well.

Now when placing a box on a shelf, teach the worker to scan the code of that box (they would do so already upon receiving the box I suppose), then have the worker scan the bar code of the shelf they place the box at. This hand-held device then transmits the data to your database. If the workers are bound to forget to scan the shelf, have the device refuse to complete the job and accept a new box without a scan of the shelf.

The moment another worker has to retrieve a box, their picking order will give them the box number, and the location of where it is. There may be two or three boxes at the same location, nevertheless it'll make the search a lot faster.

No need to attach electronics to the box, or to worry about battery life, or having to chase a box to retrieve the electronics after it's shipped out.

Prediction Time.

System has been worked out, boxes now have wireless activated flashing lights on them.

Come the end of the business day you check and find that the warehouse now has 300 boxes with 150 flashing light units.

Enquiries lead to delivery drivers and customers who were wondering about the flashing light on their parcle.

Warehouse guys look at you without a care in their heads.

You assemble another 150 units for the next day.

I would almost be willing to put money on it.

Come on we have all heard this senario before, i have lived it.

Walking through this here is how i see it.

Design and implement flashing lights is do able but it must be robust, small, able to work for a week on batteries and must not inhibit the stacking of the boxes (if the boxex are stacked, will the light still be visable?).
Building and programming the Main Unit to store data of box number and contents, setting it up so anyone can go to it and request a box then send the signal to that box is a LOT HARDER as you have to deal with a fair size data base for +300 boxes.
Having to collect all 300 units say every week to recharge or replace the batteries. Hard but do able.
Training the current crew to use this system. I leave that answer up to you.

The simplest and most cost effective way may be to employ a floor walker for your warehouse.

The above is based on no warehouse experience other than looking in one so i bet there are a few more issues there somewhere.

Still i like the idea. You should never stop dreaming up better ways to do something.

Daz