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RFID and the IIoT for Industrial Tool Tracking

Tool-tracking solutions based on RFID and the Industrial Internet of Things increase tool traceability and availability, reduce tool search times and bring down asset-carrying costs.
By Boris Shiklo

The Approach
Lightweight asset-tracking solutions based on RFID and IIoT optimize tool tracking from several perspectives. They allow the checking of tool availability and location, as well as the controlling of employee access to specialized assets.

For that, each asset is labeled with an RFID tag, and data regarding each asset is saved to a data warehouse. To enable tool tracking throughout a manufacturing facility (for instance, at tool zone entrances or at the exits), RFID readers are installed to scan the tags. Once a tool passes a reader, the device fetches the tool's ID and transmits it to the cloud.

The cloud software processes the incoming ID, states the location of the respective tool, and presents the findings to employees via the Web or mobile user applications. If an employee needs a certain tool, he or she can use a mobile app to check that item's availability and location, then book it.

To prevent unauthorized access to specialized tooling, employees can also wear RFID tags. This way, the reader scans the tags of both the work and the tool. The cloud-based software checks employee record and determines whether he or she is allowed to use that particular tool.

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