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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

The software can also automate the billing process, the company reports. For instance, if a piece of equipment is used at a specific worksite and its use is billed to the project's owner, the system can track how long that item remains at that site, as well as when it leaves, which could prompt the release of an invoice to the customer. If managers need to access the closest piece of equipment to a project where it is required, they can view where that specific piece of equipment was last located, based on an RFID tag read.

The Asset Tracker brings additional functionality beyond that of passive RFID. It comes with a built-in accelerometer and temperature sensor, as well as Wi-Fi and cellular functionality and a BLE beacon. The tracker—which is about the size of a dollar bill and as thick as a typical paperback book—is designed to be durable. It is encased in fiberglass and reinforced nylon and can be attached to items via wire ties, epoxy adhesive, magnets, bolts or screws.

A built-in battery powers the tracker for approximately five to ten years when the device is set to transmit a signal eight times a day, every day. Another version of the tracker can draw power from the device to which it is attached, such as a vehicle or other powered equipment.

The BLE radio built into the tracker can emit a unique ID via a Bluetooth connection, which can be captured with a user's BLE-based smartphone or other device. The device can then forward that data to the cloud-based server, where software tracks the user's inventory. The cellular service enables the tracker to forward sensor data via LTE Cat M1 to cellular networks. With LoRa, users can set up their own private network to track the movements of tracker-tagged devices at long range.

The pilots, to date, are proving that the technology works in the construction industry. Cook says the company expects to market the system for other vertical markets that need to track equipment around worksites, assembly floors or storage yards. While technology companies offer a variety of IoT- and RFID-based solutions, he adds, the Tenna system is unique because it is designed to suit the needs of any customer, tailored to its application.

Tenna's goal, Conti says, is to solve the age-old problems of construction sites or equipment managers using technology. "This is an exciting time in construction," Conti states, "because so much of their work is going digital."

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