For businesses that have many employees using company-owned tools, the situation can quickly descend into chaos if they don’t have efficient tool tracking systems. Tools may be easily lost, stolen, damaged or overlooked.
The cost of replacing tools affects not only a company’s budget, but also their productivity and time. Highly specialized tools are expensive, and if lost they may take days or weeks to be delivered. Specifically calibrated tools take time to replace and maintain, forcing employees to postpone tasks. A simple and highly effective solution to avoid all these issues is using RFID tool tracking.
RFID technology (Radio Frequency Identification) refers to contactless communication technology. This type of tracking system uses both active RFID tags, which have an internal power source, and passive RFID tags, which have no power source. Employees simply use RFID readers to scan the tags, accessing information about each tagged asset. RFID tool tracking is quick, simple and effective.
RFID technology has been in continuous use since the 1980s, and many improvements have been made over the years as technology has advanced. Companies all over the world in almost every industry use RFID to easily track and manage their assets.
What is the Cost of RFID Tool Tracking?
Before choosing any tracking solution, it’s essential to understand costs and benefits. As with other types of software tracking solutions, RFID has an initial cost, which ends up saving your company time and money in the long term.
Passive and active RFID tags have varying costs ranging from $0.10 to $10 per tag. Active tags cost more due to their built-in power source. You will also need RFID tag readers and network infrastructure.
What are the Benefits of RFID Tool Tracking Solutions?
Part of the cost equation also involves the time and effort saved by adopting an easy-to-use tracking solution. Tracking assets using a conventional method such as spreadsheets takes much longer, is more complicated, and is prone to mistakes. Here are a few of the most important benefits of using RFID tool tracking:
Track multiple tools simultaneously
Using RFID tool tracking on construction jobs or in an automotive shop enables the company to always keep track of exactly where each tool is and which employee is using each tool. Simplified asset management maximizes productivity, saving time and preventing tool loss and theft.
RFID tags and readers are quick and simple for employees to use. They scan the tool and the reader automatically collects and logs the data, where it may be accessed immediately at any time. There is no tedious paperwork to fill out, or complicated multiple steps to complete. The ease of the process also decreases the likelihood of employees forgetting or purposely avoiding tracking their tool use.
Rapidly Find Lost Assets
With dozens or hundreds of tools in use, it’s unfortunately easy for employees to misplace or incorrectly record a tool. Once that tool is missed the first time, it may be difficult and time-consuming to locate. RFID tagged tools can be located within seconds, avoiding wasted time and effort.
Easily Take Inventory
RFID asset tracking software enables you to complete tool inventory quickly and efficiently. A handheld reader allows you to locate each tool in real time. RFID tool tracking for construction enables you to quickly take stock of tools on a job site, or do a full catalog of each tool in your warehouse. Knowing the exact data record of each tool also makes inventory highly accurate, eliminating the possibility of carrying over errors from past inventories.
Track Tools Every Step of the Way
Using RFID technology, tools can be tagged and tracked as soon as they are created in the factory. The tag is always present, so the tool data is available at every step in the supply chain, keeping you up to date on your assets. This function also gives you an accurate idea of when a new tool will be delivered, enabling you to plan jobs more effectively.
What Types of Tool Information Does RFID Provide?
RFID tags have a high storage capacity, and can be used to collect and access a wide variety of information. This data may include:
- When the tool was used
- Last time the tool was replaced
- Maintenance information, times and updates
- How frequently the tool is being used
- Which employees are using the tool
- History of tool usage
This valuable information helps the company determine when tools need to be maintained, updated or replaced, based on usage. It also helps track which employees need the most access to any certain tools, enabling the company to properly plan tool distribution. Highly accurate RFID tracking helps the company maintain complete organization within even the most chaotic and busy job site.
Is RFID Better Than Using Barcodes to Track Tools?
Many construction companies and military engineering units still use barcode technology to track their assets, and you may be considering this option. There are a few obvious downsides to using barcodes for tool tracking, however.
- Barcodes need to be in direct sight of the reader while being scanned, unlike RFID tags. As long as you are within read range, RFID tagged tools can be scanned even if they are stored away and out of sight. Some types of RFID tags are able to be scanned up to 650 feet away, which comes in handy on large work sites.
- Barcodes are prone to damage, fading and wearing out quickly. You must then cover the cost of constantly printing new barcode labels. RFID tags are highly durable and can remain in constant use for years, making them ideal for heavy-use tools.
- Barcodes must be scanned one at a time, while an RFID tool can scan multiple tags simultaneously. This function saves a huge amount of time and effort. Instead of moving and scanning each tool one by one, you can scan dozens of tools with one read.
- Barcodes can only store a very limited amount of data about the asset. RFID tags have a much greater storage capacity. You are able to track valuable information about the service history of a tool.
- Barcodes are simple to reproduce, so they are not an ideal option if you’re worried about the security of your tools or tool tampering. RFID tags are very secure and come with built-in encryption.
Barcodes are still a reliable way of tracking assets for many types of businesses. If you are in the construction business, however, with multiple heavy-duty and expensive assets to keep track of, RFID tool tracking is highly preferred over barcode technology.
Simplify Your Tool Tracking with a Single Vendor Solution
Lowry Solutions provides RFID tracking solutions for businesses in many different industries, including construction and automotive. Lowry delivers a range of devices, tracking hardware and software, and consumable supplies. We offer procurement and maintenance of our RFID technology, including remote and on-site support.
If you are seeking a comprehensive asset tracking solution, or would like to know more, please contact our team of experts. We can provide answers to your questions about cost, setup and maintenance.