Management of tool inventory in mission-critical operations to actively prevent FOD and save time.
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. Industries deploying RFID tool tracking solutions include aerospace, rail, defense, nuclear energy, manufacturing, construction, and tool rental.
A tool tracking system automates all tool inventory management procedures by using wireless tags and RFID readers, with the option to deploy smart tool storage such as an RFID toolbox and customized tool crib software, to identify, track and control tools in real-time throughout their workflow and lifecycle.
An RFID tool tracking system generates a positive return on investment by primarily saving costs for replacing lost or stolen tools. Furthermore, the system provides valuable data on the history, usage, and preventive maintenance of each tool, enabling informed decisions regarding purchasing or selling tools that contribute to saving both time and money for the company.
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 tool crib software and solutions, 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.
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 crib software or 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.
UHF RFID is preferred in tool tracking applications because it has a longer read range compared to other tracking technologies such as barcodes or QR codes.
The longer read range enables systems to inventory many tools simultaneously, automatically in an RFID-enabled tool crib, or using a handheld UHF RFID reader that also allows for tool locating.
Passive UHF RFID (aka RAIN RFID) in particular does not require any battery, therefore reducing costs and limiting the need for additional maintenance.
Moreover, RFID tags are rugged and durable, making them suitable for physically demanding environments.
Common questions faced when deciding if RFID is suitable for a tool tracking application:
The steps involved in determining if RFID is the right solution for tool tracking include evaluating the specific requirements of the organization, understanding the capabilities and limitations of RFID technology, considering the cost-benefit analysis, and assessing if RFID can effectively address the identified challenges in tool tracking.
Companies can define the business problem by brainstorming the challenges that their team or business is facing in terms of tool tracking. This involves identifying the pain points, inefficiencies, or areas of improvement related to tool management and tracking within the organization.
A tool tracking RFID system typically consists of hardware and software components, all integrated for optimal accuracy at long and short ranges, and for work in a high density of metal surfaces:
Additional resources such as case studies, white papers, and videos are available to learn about deploying RFID systems for tool tracking.
Xerafy has developed a unique range of rugged RFID 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.
Connected Tools are professional tools coming with native RFID features to enable tracking, identification, location, usage data capture.
Unlike retrofit tools that gain RFID features at point-of-use, Connected Tools see the RFID chip integrated into the very design of the item and embedded by the manufacturer.
Xerafy has pioneered this new approach with leading manufacturers such as Stanley Black & Decker (for its Cribmaster, Proto, and Facom brands), Kyoto Tool, SnapOn. Tool manufacturers respond to the strong interest for evolutions in tool management and FOD prevention.