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RFID Prevents Errors, Automates Movement of Heavy Machinery

The GuardRFID active RFID solution is enabling Linder Industrial Machinery to automatically track when each asset arrives at one of its yards; where it is cleaned, maintained or stored; and when it is shipped back out to another customer.
By Claire Swedberg

First, a yard worker receives a transfer order for a rental, or a sales order. He or she then uses the GuardRFID software to confirm that the requested item is onsite. The RFID reader data displays the tag's location on a map of the yard. Once it is loaded and transported out through the gate, the item's status is updated as having left the premises on its way to a customer. When it returns, the system works similarly. The exciters at the gate again awaken the tags, after which the software updates each tag ID's status as having been received.

The process also works when equipment is transported from one of Linder's RFID-enabled yards to another, to ensure that the item is closer to a customer who will be picking it up. In this way, the company knows at which of the nine RFID-enabled storage yards a piece of equipment is located.

While the system's primary function is to identify the arrivals and departures of equipment, it is also capable of managing tagged items while they are onsite, for the purpose of providing real-time data and analytics. "One of the things that's been most important," Strid states, "is that we've been able to have metrics around when equipment and attachments enter and leave the yard."

The system reduces the amount of time workers spend searching for attachments or other equipment in the yard, and it also provides historic data that also enables analytics regarding productivity and how quickly equipment is maintained and ready for rental. "We have wanted to track how long it takes to flip a piece of equipment around," Strid reports, "from the point when a work order is opened for cleaning until it is back on the line."

The system has already prevented at least one costly error since its installation, Strid says. A company was in the process of removing the wrong piece of equipment from the yard, he explains, but the software detected that action and alerted individuals onsite before the driver could leave. In the future, the firm intends to work with some of the equipment manufacturers to set up a system by which they would attach RFID tags themselves before selling the equipment to Linder Industrial Machinery.

The installation posed a few challenges for Linder Industrial Machinery and GuardRFID, Strid says—the first and foremost being the environment. The large amount of metal meant tag reads could be obstructed from some angles. The company determined the best location and orientation for each tag on the equipment, so as to ensure a reliable read. The construction environment also served as a challenge, since tags are exposed to hard knocks, mud, chemicals and, in some cases, travel (for ma drill or other piece of equipment used underground). To address this issue, Linder Industrial Machinery installed a steel ring around each tag to protect it when the equipment is in use.

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