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Tenna Brings IoT, RFID to Industrial Asset Tracking

The company, formerly known as BuildSourced, aims to provide a single platform for all asset tracking on civil construction or other sites, to manage everything from a screwdriver to a crane, as well as personnel.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 10, 2017

BuildSourced, an industrial inventory-management technology company, has launched an updated version of its solution that employs radio frequency identification and other Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to help its customers manage their assets. The firm is doing so under the new name of Tenna.

The two-year-old company, based in Edison, N.J., already offered physical asset-management software solutions for the civil construction industry, but that platform now includes IoT technology as well. That, says CEO and co-founder Austin Conti, positions the company as a leader in the industrial sector to offer an end-to-end equipment-management solution. The company is offering passive UHF RFID functionality now, with a branded tracker device for LoRa, active RFID, cellular and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tracking expected to be available by the end of the year. Several construction companies have been trialing the RFID- and tracker-based systems at their own sites for the past three months.

Conti has a background in the civil construction industry. He and co-founder Jose Cueva launched BuildSourced in 2015 as a way to manage the variety of assets used on a typical worksite. He recalls working on a bridge project with Cueva when the two started brainstorming about creating a better solution to sourcing and management materials. At most projects, Conti explains, a project or equipment manager is responsible for managing what equipment is onsite, ensuring it doesn't go missing and billing for it as needed. This can be a time-consuming task.

Tenna's Michael Cook
There are software-, RFID- and IoT-based solutions for such applications, Conti says, but the primary problem the construction and other industries face is the lack of a single, unified platform approach to tracking all equipment and inventory assets. The BuildSourced platform addressed that with a solution aimed at identifying the location of and status of every piece of equipment used on a site, ranging from hand tools to heavy equipment and vehicles.

The first version of the solution utilized QR codes to help personnel on worksites identify the objects being managed. However, Conti says, from the onset, the company had long-term plans to automate that data and create a single IoT-based solution. That led to the new Tenna sensor-based products, with a single solution "built so that they could capture meta data," says Michael Cook, Tenna's CTO. That data, he notes, can include not only the unique identifier, but information about a particular piece of equipment, such as how long or how often it was used, as well as its inspection or maintenance history.

The new Tenna product line uses BLE, GPS, cellular and LoRa technology while separate UHF RFID transponders can be used with the system. In the latter case, the UHF RFID tags transmit to fixed and handheld readers which send location data based on each read event to the company's asset-management software platform. By early 2018, the company expects to be selling its Asset Trackers, which come with UHF RFID transponders as well as active RFID, BLE, GPS, cellular and LoRa functionality. The trackers can be attached to a tool, machine or vehicle.

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