Tools are vital to any industrial operation. Whether on a construction site or in an aircraft hangar, the ability to quickly access, use, return and track tools on a day-to-day, shift-to-shift schedule is critically important.
The advent of RFID in the tool tracking process - using specialized tools cribs and passive UHF read-on-metal tags that can withstand the rugged nature of industrial deployments —is substantially improving both the accuracy and the effectiveness of tool tracking applications across industries.
There are several benefits to incorporating RFID in a tool tracking application, including:
* reducing lost and stolen tools;
* reducing tool check in/check out processes;
* eliminating instances of human error such as accounting errors, compliance oversights and missing inventory;
* tracking and locating lost tools;
* realizing ROI with a reduction in replacement tool costs, time savings and increased efficiency.
In the aerospace industry there is high concern over the current state of tool control. Capital costs and internal cultural resistance are the two biggest obstacles to the adoption of new tool control practices such as RFID, a recent survey found. But those obstacles are becoming less of an issue as more and more aerospace companies embrace the benefits of RFID tracking, and as the tags and tools that use RFID become more prevalent throughout the industry. Boeing and Airbus have implemented RFID for inventory management, maintenance recording, FME procedures and quality control.
The ability to accurately track inventory - and implement a tracking management process - eans aerospace companies can monitor equipment usage, track calibration, track costs and plan what materials the maintenance engineers need to maintain the aircraft fleet. RFID on tools makes it easier for airlines to track who has tools and what condition they are in when the tool has been returned and is being recalibrated. The tool history and specifications recorded on the RFID tag can be easily compared with those being measured on the test bench, and the appropriate changes made. Other benefits include inventory reduction, less storage space required for MRO inventory creating more space for parts, and reduced tool consumption.
The RFID technology has evolved to overcome the challenges of metal interference, harsh environments,tag size/attachment, and long read range requirements. OPP IOT's family of small rugged tags such as OPPD5, OPPD6 and OPP060302 are extremely popular for tool tracking due to its size to performance and durability. Of course, when embedding is possible, the embeddable tags are an ideal solution for source tagging and identification of tools.