RFID Tool Tracking Systems
Tool tracking plays its role in mission-critical operations where effective tool inventory management and accountability are key to actively preventing FOD incidents and promoting time savings, such as aviation, rail, defense, nuclear, manufacturing, and construction.
A tool tracking system automates all tool inventory management procedures by using wireless RFID tags, smart tool storage such as an RFID toolbox, and customized software to identify, track and control tools in real-time throughout their workflow and lifecycle.
5 Use Cases of RFID for a Tool Tracking System
THE CHALLENGES OF TOOL TRACKING
Tool tracking systems are deployed in mission-critical environments that cannot afford the FOD and FME risks that come with relying on employees to manually track and record the hand tools, power tools, and equipment they use throughout the day.
But successfully deploying tool inventory management systems involves overcoming many challenges regarding the tool inventory, existing processes, change management, and technology.
Aviation and industrial operations have first-hand experiences of the limitations of manual tool inventory management relying on tool foam organizers, sign-in/sign-out procedures, visual identifiers, or barcodes:
Loss of tools due to misplacement or outright theft, and therefore the direct cost of replacement.
Lost productivity due to personnel check-out/check-in of tools, searching for lost tools, or waiting for replacements to arrive.
Reputational risks from missed commitments and added costs.
BUILDING THE BEST RFID TOOL TRACKING SYSTEM: RUGGED TAGS, AGILE READERS, CUSTOMIZED SOFTWARE
Where to begin with a tool tracking system project?
ROI - Specify particular enterprise and/or departmental problems to be addressed, as well as the business rationale.
Procedures - Review your tool management, whether it is done manually with tool foam organizers, with sign-in/sign-out procedures, with visual IDs, or with barcodes.
Inventory - Know your legacy inventory of hand tools, smaller tools, power tools, and equipment to track. Include storage units in use for tools.
Deployment - Consider strategic stages, such as team, department, and enterprise-level deployment. Include redundancy and quality during proof of concept.
Connected Tools - Industrial tools with native RFID features are available from leading OEMs: A short-term alternative to retrofitting or a long-term direction for procurement.
Which components are the best to use for RFID Tool Tracking?
Agile Readers - RFID Readers can be incorporated in both fixed and mobile tool storage units such as cribs, drawers, cabinets, and toolrooms. Handheld readers enable mobile inspections and tool search functions.
Accuracy - Optimize the system for reliability at long and short ranges, and for work in a high density of metal surfaces.
Customized Software – Adapt to your workflows to minimize change management. Update for additional capabilities: Alerts for missing tools, calibration notifications, replenishment triggers, override options, and data insights.
RFID Tags - When it comes to tool tagging, there are RFID options for mounting on metal and for embedding, in a variety of small sizes to accommodate even the most limited available real estate. They are all available for optimized performance on metal, plastic, and wood surfaces.
Scalable Tagging - Methods for retrofitting at point-of-use, for large inventories, for resistance to shocks, abrasion, fluids, and chemicals: Epoxy and heat-shrink tubing are ideal starting points, and a protective carrier can be added.
Xerafy has developed a unique range of rugged tagging solutions built on overcoming several challenges of traditional RFID technology relating to Tool Management when it comes to metal interference, harsh environments, and long-range read distance requirements.
Working with leading manufacturers such as Stanley Black & Decker (for its Cribmaster, Proto, and Facom brands), Kyoto Tool, SnapOn, Xerafy has pioneered a new approach that sees them offering ranges of 'Connected Tools' with native RFID features embedded at point-of-manufacture to enable tracking, identification, location, usage data capture. In doing so, tool manufacturers respond to the strong demand for evolutions in tool management and FOD prevention.
RFID TOOL TRACKING
Industrial operations depend on specialized tools and equipment: Hand tools, Power tools, Metalworking, Tooling... Securing them from loss and locating them quickly when they are needed is critically important in their daily operations.
By improving both the accuracy and the effectiveness of tool tracking, RFID tool tracking reduces the substantial costs of tool availability and life cycle.
The drawbacks of manual tool tracking in industrial environments are well documented:
Loss of tools, due to misplacement or outright theft, and therefore the direct cost of replacement
Lost productivity due to personnel check-out/check-in of tools, searching for lost tools, or waiting for replacements to arrive
Poor customer satisfaction from missed commitments, maintenance, and added cost
AVIATION TOOL CONTROL
In mission-critical operations such as Aircraft MRO, unaccounted tools and other maintenance incidents can have catastrophic consequences.
Tool Control procedures traditionally rely on visual tool identifications such as tool foam organizers for toolboxes and drawers. Tool cribs and sign-in/sign-out procedures provided another level of control but with limited efficacy and accuracy.
MRO operations have been early adopters of technology solutions for Tool Control, setting the standard for how other industries can address their own safety, compliance, and productivity challenges.
Automated Tool Control (ATC) solutions are now available that bring tool control RFID systems to drive safety, efficiency, and digitization.
The ATC solutions are built around multiple smart RFID-enabled mobile and fixed tool storage options, including tool crib, tool trolley, tool cart, tool cabinet, CICO kiosk, tool room, toolbox.
SMALL TOOL TRACKING
Sockets, ratchets, drills bits: Tagging small tools presents a sizeable challenge.
With sockets and ratchets accounting for up to 30% of a typical MRO tool inventory, delivering a near 100% tool tracking coverage is critical in environments prone to FOD and FME incidents.
But given their small sizes, traditional tool tagging solutions are limited given that there really is no good place to mount an RFID tag that won't interfere with daily operation.
TOOL TRACKING FOR RAIL
Railway operations leverage RFID for the management of their tools and rolling stock.
Operators of passengers, freight, and metro services rely on RFID tracking systems for smart tool management in rail maintenance operations.
Xerafy RFID also powers self-reporting communications systems to drive rolling stock availability and safety as used by manufacturers of locomotives and unpowered rail vehicles.
TOOLS IN CONSTRUCTION
Construction sites rely on a complex and fluid organization. RFID Systems for Construction Tool Tracking brings them the real-time situational awareness required to run smoothly and safely, helping with the location and availability of tools and equipment in the field.
Tools, equipment, teams, materials, sites: Maintaining a safe and efficient on-site environment is a daily challenge for the Construction industry.
Construction Tool Tracking RFID Systems are helping to increase the availability of tools on site by reducing losses and delivery movements to different sites. Employees can easily check-in and check-out tools and equipment with a simple scan. RFID Systems extend to materials and yard management, for instance, keeping track of rebars.
Market adoption is supported by a very diversified offering with RFID solutions and software adapted to team sizes, contractors, tool and equipment types, IT configurations (onsite / cloud, mobile / ERP).
RFID is particularly well suited to construction sites: The technology's traditional advantage over Barcodes and other optical identification methods are at their maximum when it comes to operations in the field.