RFID Tool Tracking
Tool tracking is required to actively prevent FOD and FME incidents and to promote time savings in mission-critical operations such as Aviation, Rail, Defense, Manufacturing, Nuclear, and Construction.
Tool tracking systems automate equipment and tool management procedures by using tags, tool storage hardware, and software to track and control tools in real-time throughout their workflow and lifecycle.
THE CHALLENGES OF TOOL AND SMALL 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 tracking 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 Management processes 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.
Small Tool Tracking presents another sizeable challenge: With sockets and ratchets accounting for up to 30% of a typical tool inventory in MRO operations, delivering a near 100% tool tracking coverage is critical in environments prone to FOD and FME incidents.
USING THE RIGHT RFID FOR TOOL TRACKING
Starting a Tool Tracking System involves a tagging strategy to RFID-enable a tool inventory made of various hand tools, smaller tools, power tools, and equipment to track.
Xerafy has developed a unique range of RFID tagging options, 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:
RFID for environments with a high density of metal surfaces
RFID tagging options adapted to various form factors and materials (metal, plastics, wood)
RFID optimized for tool tracking applications: Size-to-performance ratio, long read-range, accuracy, and reliability
Reliable tagging techniques that are proven in the field for shocks, abrasion, fluids, chemicals
Scalable tagging methods adapted to larger tool inventories
Xerafy provides tool tagging options that can be either mounted or embedded into tools and equipment at point-of-use. Many industries favor a combination of Epoxy and Heat-Shrink Tubing to retrofit their tool inventories. In addition, some use a carrier to add an extra level of protection against shocks and fluids.
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 'smart 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 strong demand for evolutions in tool management towards Connected Tools.
RFID TOOL TRACKING
Industrial operations rely on specialized tools and equipment: Securing them from theft 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 from market leaders such as Cribmaster Storeroom and Tool Crib Management, SnapOn Level5 Automation Solutions, Nexess Smart Cabinet, 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.
RAIL TOOL TRACKING
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 of train 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.
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.