RFID Tool Tracking
The main goal of an RFID Tool Tracking application is to accurately manage and locate all RFID tagged tools in a certain room or location.
Using RFID to manage a collection of tools is a common RFID asset tracking application, found in many industries like healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and retail.
RFID tool tracking systems can manage tools, including preventive maintenance, of all sizes, shapes, and materials – from small, metal surgical tools to large, metal and plastic power drills.
Tool Tracking Examples
Heavy Duty Equipment
Which Types of Companies Use RFID to Track Tools?
- Tool Rental
- Plumbing & Electrical
How is an RFID Tool Tracking System Setup?
An RFID Tool Tracking System can be setup in one of two primary ways depending on the size and environment of the tool area, the required data, and company preference. Many times, the two setups are used in conjunction to gain maximum efficiency.
A fixed RFID system can be setup:
- In an area, room, or even a van or trailer
- On shelves or displays
- In cabinets, tool boxes, or even custom vending machines
Fixed RFID Systems can be comprised of RFID readers, gateways, or portals, and can inventory an area continuously, at set intervals, or, with the addition of sensors, after key events like doors opening. These systems can also be paired with an access control system to restrict or allow access to all or specialty tools.
If an access control system is incorporated, in addition to limiting access, software can associate personnel access with removed tools. Associating the information can provide a digital log for accountability. A fixed RFID system typically has the ability to provide more consistent data than a handheld reader system because a fixed system is not reliant on personnel to take inventory, and it has the ability to incorporate GPIO devices which can be used as automatic triggers.
An RFID handheld reader system involves personnel scanning/reading at tool inventory locations at different times or intervals depending on the application’s needs. A company can choose to take inventory on certain days, at certain times, or before and after a job or event. One advantage of a handheld system is the ability to locate RFID-tagged assets using a “Geiger Counter” finding feature.
What Type of Information Can an Tool Tracking System Provide?
- Last Tool Removed
- Last Tool Replaced
- Tool Usage History
- Tool Usage Frequency
- Last Date of Maintenance
- Personnel Using Tool
- Personnel Tool Usage History
How Does This Information Help Companies?
- Find lost tools
- Determine if additional tools are needed
- Identify pain points in tool management
- Know when a tool was last seen
- Determine if tools need to be replaced
How Does an RFID Tool Tracking System Create a Positive ROI?
The main return on investment in a tool tracking system is the money saved on not having to replace lost or stolen tools. The additional data on history, usage, and preventive maintenance on each tool leads to purchase or sell decisions that save company time and money.
Mitigating Tool Tracking Obstacles
Small tools, like surgical instruments, have very little available surface area which can make it difficult to find an RFID tag small enough that fits. For small tools, take a look at RFID tags for healthcare or reach out to an RFID specialist. Other, small tags may be available upon request.
Certain frequency ranges of RFID, like Ultra-High Frequency or UHF, can be negatively affected by metal surfaces. If the tools are made of or contain metal, look for tags manufactured specifically for mounting on metal surfaces. To learn more about how metal and other factors can affect an application, read our article Factoring in the Environment: RFID Deployments.
Typical attachment methods might not work for tools that are handled frequently or used in rugged environments. Embedding, use of strong epoxy, and screws or rivets common ways of mounting tags in/on tools that are used in such circumstances.
In tool tracking applications that require autoclaves, sterilization, or pressure washing, be sure to look for tags that can withstand high temperature and pressure.
How to Get Started Tracking Tools
The first step to deciding if an RFID Tool Tracking System is right for you is defining the business problem by brainstorming the challenges that your team or business is facing. Next, walk through the steps of determining if RFID will solve the problem at hand and is the right solution for your application.
To walk through the list of common questions users face when deciding if RFID is right of their application, checkout our Guide to Deploying RFID Systems. To learn how to set up a defined read zone for Tool Tracking, or a similar type of Inventory Tracking - checkout the video below.
Which Type of RFID is Used in Tool Tracking?
Typically, UHF RFID is used in most Tool Tracking Applications because it has a longer read range which enables systems to inventory many tools at once and allows for tool locating using a handheld UHF RFID reader.
Laundry & Textile Tracking
Transportation Asset Management
Library Asset Management
Hospital Inventory Control
Luxury Inventory Tracking
Logistics & SCM
Vehicle Inventory Management