A Hardier RFID Tag for the Jobsite

December 20, 2013

A construction site is home to hundreds of pieces of equipment, from the smallest hammer to the largest earth-mover. More often these days, contractors are interested in tracking their materials and equipment to prevent loss and theft. RFID (radio-frequency identification) tagging offers a way to keep track of many assets on a jobsite.

To function at the highest level, RFID tracking systems need to work in harsh environments. Construction supplies may endure wind, rain, cold, and heat, and tags need to stand up to those conditions. To meet this need, Atlas RFID Solutions, www.atlasrfid.com, Birmingham, Ala., recently announced the certification of a new active RFID tag designed for use in harsh construction environments.

Active RFID refers to a tag that has its own power source, as opposed to passive tags, which need to draw their power from a reader. Called the Power 1, the new tag is designed specifically for the construction industry. Atlas RFID Solutions worked with Omni-ID, www.omni-id.com, Rochester, N.Y., to test and certify the new tag. Omni-ID is a provider of rugged RFID tags.

The Omni-ID Power 1 includes battery capacity for at least five years of duty in most applications, according to the company. It features a 433 MHz frequency, which Atlas says is able to penetrate snow and moisture and provides a range of 100 meters.

RFID use in construction is growing along with the overall industry. According to research firm IDTechEx, www.idtechex.com, Cambridge, Mass., the total RFID market for 2013 is worth $7.88 billion, which is up from $6.98 billion in 2012. The firm predicts this number will rise to $9.2 billion in 2014.

RFID tags in construction are often part of larger inventory management systems. By tagging materials and linking the tags to a database, contractors can understand when and where the assets are being used, as well as what materials are available. For example, tagging steel can help to more quickly sort large quantities of materials that may look similar.

By offering tags that stand up to harsh environments, suppliers are meeting the needs of construction firms. When those tags become part of a complete asset-management system, the value of the solution can be unlocked.