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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

Limitations
Before implementing an RFID-enabled tool-tracking solution, businesses need to consider the following points:

• RFID tags should not influence the production process, complicate the work of employees, threaten their safety or intervene with a tool's performance. To ensure that, the selection of tags should be based on a particular read range, a specific tag size and compliance standards. In addition, the placement of the tags should be carried out under simple, comprehensive guidelines.

• The cost of tools should be high enough for a tool-tracking system to pay off. The price for RFID tags ranges from 5 cents to $10 per item, while the price of a reader can be as high as $5,000 to $20,000, which doesn't make RFID a good fit for tracking, say, screwdrivers. However, an RFID-driven solution is sure to pay off when applied for tracking costly tooling.

To Sum Up
In the industrial ecosystem, a missing tool can do more harm to the production schedule than a missing part. Inefficient to be tracked via traditional methods (say, spreadsheet-based), tools' locations, movements and usage history can be effectively monitored with RFID and IIoT technologies.

By providing technicians and asset specialists with real-time updates about each tagged tool, smart tool-tracking solutions can help industrial enterprises to reduce tool search times, optimize tool usage and bring down inventory-carrying costs due to increased tool traceability, availability and sharing.

Boris Shiklo, ScienceSoft's CTO, is responsible for the company's long-term technological vision and innovation strategies. Under his supervision, the company's development team has successfully fulfilled complex projects of more than 80,000 man-hours in health care, banking and finance, retail, telecommunications, the public sector and other domains. Boris has a solid background in IT consulting, software development, project management and strategic planning.

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