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Can RFID Track Construction Tools?

Posted By RFID Journal, 01.07.2014

Is there an RFID tracking device small enough to adhere to a construction tool, such as a nail gun or a compressor, that could transmit upon being moved? I would also like it to have locationing capabilities, like Lojack.

—Name withheld


As far as I know, there is nothing available that would work exactly the way you describe, but that does not mean RFID could not solve your theft problem. There are tags small enough to be attached to or put within construction tools, but these are passive tags with a read range of perhaps 10 to 30 feet. They respond when in the field of a reader antenna, so they cannot automatically broadcast a signal when moved. There are active tags with accelerometers that can be set up to broadcast when they are being moved, but these tags are bulky and probably too pricy to be affixed to construction tools.

You could create zones that would be covered by passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID readers, or have portals that would interrogate tags as people walked through them. It might also be possible to reduce theft by tracking who checked out tools in the morning and who checked them back in later in the day. RFID can be used to automatically record this information, so you would not wind up with long lines of workers waiting to obtain or return tools.

Here are three stories that might prove useful:

Grunnarbeid Manages Tools With RFID

Australian Oil Refinery Construction Site Tries Out RFID

Construction Group Improves Its Ability to Find Heavy Equipment

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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