RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology has many uses, including asset management for construction companies with thousands of assets, including heavy equipment.
We went to expert Kenneth Ratton of Austin-based Radiant RFID for information on RFID technology and its uses.
Before co-founding Radiant RFID in 2004, Ratton was Program Director at Trilogy Software, where he managed all aspects of financial reporting and contracts for Trilogy’s largest client, Ford Motor Company. Prior to Trilogy, he founded NAC Engineering and served as a Project Manager at Ford Motor Company.
A big thank you to Kenneth Ratton and the team at Radiant RFID for sharing their expertise with the TuffWerx community.
TuffWerx: How does RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology work?
Kenneth Ratton: RFID is a technology that enables data collection using radio waves. A system typically consists of four components: RFID tags, RFID readers, antennas, and software. RFID tags contain a small chip and antenna and are programmed with unique EPC numbers. RFID readers capture and compile tag data, which is collected and formatted by software in a way that is easy to use throughout an organization.
TuffWerx: How can heavy equipment owners use RFID technology for asset management?
Kenneth Ratton: RFID is a great way to manage and track heavy equipment. Not only are equipment owners able to take faster, more accurate inventory and track equipment that enters and exits facilities and docks, they can also use RFID to record information about each piece of equipment (e.g. usage history, service and maintenance, age, flaws, special instructions, etc.).
TuffWerx: What are the benefits of using RFID to track equipment?
Kenneth Ratton: By automating data collection, RFID technology vastly reduces human effort–and error. Data from RFID tags is instantly read when they pass through portals or near readers, so the process is completely automated. Unlike bar codes or manual methods, RFID reads multiple tags at once without requiring line of site. This enables users to more quickly and accurately locate assets without climbing on ladders, cramming under desks, or scanning labels one-by-one.
TuffWerx: What other construction industry-related items is RFID suitable for?
Kenneth Ratton: RFID technology is important for both asset management and employee accountability and safety. For example, in the event of an emergency or facility evacuation, Radiant’s Employee Mustering Solution enables organizations to automatically determine which employees, guests, contractors, and suppliers have safely arrived at muster points—and which people remain inside facilities—while providing important last-seen location data. This solution of ours is ideal for businesses that have a large number of people to manage and take care of, such as companies in the construction industry.
TuffWerx: Are you seeing a rise in the use of RFID technology?
Kenneth Ratton: Even though RFID technology has been in existence since the 1940s, there has been an explosion in popularity and usages for the past 15 years. RFID solutions are used to creatively solve increasingly complex organizational problems every day for businesses and consumers.
TuffWerx: How is the Texas Department of Public Safety using your RFID technology to track and manage their vehicles?
Kenneth Ratton: The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) classifies vehicles as capital assets. DPS uses an RFID tag specifically designed for vehicle windshields. These tags can withstand hot Texas summers with high heat and direct sunlight.
DPS uses handheld scanners to inventory these vehicles at hundreds of locations across the state. Additionally, DPS plans to use fixed readers at key maintenance sites and buildings to quickly inventory vehicles as they enter DPS facilities. This translates into less time and effort inventorying vehicles, resulting in lower labor costs and greater accuracy.
Beyond equipment, Radiant tracks a total of over 100,000 assets across 600 locations for Texas DPS.
TuffWerx: Is RFID only suitable for large companies that own hundreds or thousands of pieces of equipment?
Kenneth Ratton: RFID can be an ideal solution for organizations that need to keep track of equipment, products, and staff.
Radiant’s typical deployment is for customers with 25,000+ assets to track and manage, including vehicles, equipment, IT assets like laptops, projectors, phones, and tablets, as well as facility employees, contractors and visitors.
TuffWerx: How can readers learn more about Radiant RFID?
They can visit our website at RadiantRFID.com to learn more or get in touch with us.
Photos via Flickr CC, courtesy of Common Dactyl and Christopher Ebdon, and courtesy of Radiant RFID.