Construction Management with RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Aug 11, 2010 @ 10:00 AM

Tool Tracking, Heavy Equipment Management and Next-Generation 4-Dimensional Building Information Modeling

Construction companies and maintenance organizations face a unique set of asset management and operational challenges during the best of times.  Given the tight economic and budget conditions we face today, keeping a closer eye on the location of tools and equipment, and ensuring a safe working environment is more important than ever.

Having access to timely and accurate information about the location and status of critical assets such as tools and equipment are directly related to the successful completion of a project and a company’s bottom line.  With the advanced technologies and innovations in the construction industry, it has become both technically and economically viable to integrate the use of automated data collection methods – like RFID - into daily operations. 

Deploying an RFID system involves individually tagging each tool or piece of equipment and then outfitting warehouses, trucks or kiosks with RFID readers.  A comprehensive RFID system can be implemented at a low cost to the customer and provide significant improvements across all areas of the construction process.  Here are a few examples:

Tool Tracking on Vehicles

Normally, trucks leaving work sites have to manually take inventory of all their equipment. More often that not, a piece of this equipment is inadvertently left behind, forcing the company to pay to replace it.  Other times an assignment might call for a specific tool or piece of machinery that has been misplaced.  Looking for the missing item wastes labor hours and wages paid during the time spent searching.

With an RFID-enabled tool tracking solution, employees loading a truck headed to a work site can take inventory in a matter of seconds and retrieve any misplaced or forgotten items.  Upon completion of the job, inventory can be taken again to prevent leaving valuable tools behind.

OK – you didn’t think we could go too long without mentioning Tool Link in our 100 Uses of RFID campaign did you!  Ford Work Solutions™ Tool Link™ uses UHF RFID technology to tell you what's in your truck and what isn't.  This solution is a prime example of the growing number of innovative solutions where users and consumers can naturally interact with RFID and sensors and where the technology is so integrated and transparent that it disappears into its environment. 

Construction Site Tool Tracking

Atlas RFID, a professional service agency dedicated to improving business processes in all fields of RFID, has created a tool tracking solution using ThingMagic USB Readers.

Atlas RFID Atlas RFID Atlas RFID

Atlas’s Asset Management System (AMS) not only tracks tools and equipment, but also the personnel involved.  In addition to the loss prevention and elimination of inefficiencies, Atlas AMS also has the ability to check compliance with safety regulations and inspection.  When tools are passed by the self-service kiosk, this data is displayed up on the user friendly touch screen, allowing a worker to take action if required.

Heavy Equipment Management

Heavy equipment providers that lease cranes, bulldozers and other machinery are testing or deploying RFID to keep track of assets and monitor their use in order to maximize lease revenues. In addition, these companies are testing RFID to keep tabs on workers to ensure both safety and productivity.

RFID and Sensors for Maintenance and Building Information Modeling

The integration of RFID and sensors into building material is finding its way into Building Information Modeling (BIM), allowing construction firms to generate and manage real-time building data during its life cycle to increase productivity in building design and construction.

For example, tagging of building components allows one to perform authentication and lifetime maintenance of construction materials such as concrete blocks, steel beams and piping.  RFIDS in environmentally stressed materials can be monitored for the lifetime of a building, measuring strain, temperature and moisture to deliver a profile of building with very high resolution in real-time for real-time control.

Let us know your thoughts on how RFID and sensors can be used in the construction industry.  Please share your success stories with us.

Tags: RFID, Tool Tracking, Construction

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