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Grunnarbeid Manages Tools With RFID

The Norwegian construction contractor is using EPC Gen 2 tags and readers, as well as GPS and cellular technology, to track the location and status of tools on work sites.
By Claire Swedberg
May 12, 2011Grunnarbeid, a Norwegian building, construction and highways contractor, is testing a solution that employs RFID and GPS to identify the location and status of tools on construction sites. The system—provided by Norwegian RFID software company TraceTracker, telecommunications company Telenor Objects and RFID integrator HRAFN—consists of a customized computer wired to an RFID reader, GPS unit and cellular device, installed in containers or vehicles that transport and store equipment. With RFID tags applied to the equipment, TraceTracker software can identify which tools are within read range of the reader, and thereby know whether they are still in storage in that container or vehicle, or have been removed, presumably by construction staff.

Grunnarbeid provides large-scale construction and civil engineering services in central Norway, with multiple projects going on at any given time. The company was seeking a way to use technology to improve asset management on work sites, says John Peter Alstad, Grunnarbeid's CEO. The challenge was to improve visibility into which tools were in use at what job site, and which ones were idle. In some cases, tools in a trailer at one place may be unused, while the same tool is in great demand on another site.

Grunnarbeid's John Peter Alstad
The company owns about 70 percent of the equipment it uses, and rents the additional 30 percent to meet the varying needs based on construction projects underway. The rental equipment is typically needed when the necessary equipment can't be provided for a specific project. "If we could live in a world where you start a project immediately when another finished, this wouldn't be a problem," says Alstad, but multiple projects at once make it difficult to manage which equipment is in use, and where.

Alstad says he was introduced to RFID when he read The World is Flat, a book written by New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman. Later, he approached telecom company Telenor, which referred him to its Telenor Objects division, which focuses on services and products that support RFID and GPS data. As a result, Alstad adopted the company's Shepherd software system—a data-collection platform that can communicate with multiple types of sensors, as well as various types of RFID readers, GPS transmitters, wireless and telephony networks. Telenor Objects issued a request for proposal (RFP) for RFID software, and TraceTracker won the bid, says Geir Vevle, HRAFN's CTO.

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