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Construction Group Seeks to Build Support for RFID

The RFID in Construction Consortium, formed by RFID and construction industry members, hopes to foster technology's adoption, primarily by acting as a source of information.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 11, 2009A new organization hopes to help the construction industry take advantage of radio frequency identification in the work place. The nonprofit group, known as the RFID in Construction Consortium, will provide education and support to industry members seeking to learn more about or deploy the technology, as well as other forms of automatic investigation and data capture (AIDC), sensor and wireless technologies.

The idea of establishing such a consortium first surfaced a few years ago, and has been gaining interest and momentum within the industry ever since, according to Jose Faria, the consortium's president and an associate professor at Florida International University's Department of Construction Management. Several individuals helped spearhead the organization's creation, including Francis Rabuck, the consortium's senior VP and chief operating officer, and the director of the Intelligent Infrastructure Lab at software design company Bentley Systems; and Harry Pappas, president of the International RFID Business Association. Pappas has helped create similar RFID groups for such vertical industries as tires, health care, animal identification, retail and aviation. Rabuck is contributing his knowledge of the construction industry, as well as his hands-on experience with RFID, sensors and wireless technologies. He is also a member of FIATECH, a nonprofit research group composed of construction companies, material suppliers and academics, and operating under the umbrella of the Construction Industry Institute (CII).

The recent economic downturn provides some incentive to establish this type of program, Faria says, since many construction firms are examining their current processes and searching for ways in which technology can improve efficiencies and productivity, in addition to decreasing operational costs. "We launched the organization at a time when education is imperative," Faria states, adding that he hopes the Obama administration's rollout of its stimulus plan may free up funding for RFID programs.

"The RFID consortium's mission is educating end users in a vendor-neutral and technology-agnostic manner," Faria says, "so they can take advantage of the benefits of implementing RFID in their enterprises." The group, he notes, will focus on helping each company to examine the solution to a particular problem as part of a total picture, without focusing solely on the RFID portion of the implementation.

The construction industry has already begun employing RFID to track materials, assets, equipment, explosives, hazardous materials and people. Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, for example, is being used to identify the exact location of such materials as precast concrete panels and metal beams that have been tagged with RFID (see German Research Institute Tests RFID in Construction).

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