Could RFID Track Steel Scaffolding?


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Ask The ExpertsCategory: QuestionsCould RFID Track Steel Scaffolding?
Robert German asked 3 years ago

I work in the scaffolding rental industry. We are looking to deploy RFID technology to monitor our inventory and the movement of our materials. Has anyone successfully deployed RFID in this type of environment? Most of our materials are made of steel.


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Companies track metal objects all the time, including sheet metal and rolled steel. In 2016, we wrote about  Altrad Group, a France-based manufacturer of construction equipment that uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to track the real-time movements of scaffolding products within a portion of its production facility and warehouse, with plans for a larger deployment. The solution, known as SINTRA, is provided by German technology startup  Smartly Solutions (see  Manufacturer Tracks Scaffolding Products Via Beacon-Based RTLS).

Altrad attaches the beacons to crates in which scaffolding products are stored and shipped, with beacon-reading smartphones mounted on walls and gates, and with beacon-reading tablets or mobile phones in workers' hands. A SINTRA app running on the mounted reading devices uses the received signal strength indicator (RSSI) to approximate each tag's location within the facility in real time. Workers can use their tablets, with a separate SINTRA app to locate and identify crates.

If you need to track individual pieces of scaffolding, you will need to use passive LF, HF or UHF. The latter provides a longer read range, but it can be challenging to read on metal. Special tags have been developed by  Omni-ID, Technologies ROI, The Tag Factory and other companies, which can be affixed to scaffolding and then be read via a handheld reader.  William Frick & Co. offers many on-metal tags and even has a solution for tracking items rented out or used for a period of time in different locations (see  William Frick Offers Municipalities a Low-Cost Solution for Tracking City Assets).

Mark Roberti
Founder and Editor
RFID Journal


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