Categories
ItemAware Software

Our Customers Say It Best: How ItemAware Has Transformed Concurrent’s Asset Tracking Processes

To provide more customers with new and innovative solutions, Aware Innovations has partnered with Ring Power Utility Equipment to offer a groundbreaking product known as ItemAware to increase compliance and productivity while reducing losses. Read more below to learn more about this partnership.

Testimonials speak volumes. At Aware Innovations, we are always excited to share how our innovative software has revolutionized the asset tracking and inventory management fields. Although you have heard about how our modern technology can transform your tool tracking processes from us, we want you to hear it from a client’s perspective. For this reason, we are dedicating this month’s blog post to highlighting a customer’s experience using ItemAware.

To begin, we will briefly define what ItemAware is as well as outline the benefits of implementing this cutting-edge technology. Once a clear understanding of product features has been established, we will share an insider’s experience using our intuitive software.

Continue reading to learn about ItemAware’s uses as well as how our asset tracking software has greatly impacted Concurrent’s bottom line.

What is ItemAware?

ItemAware is a unique tool and asset tracking system that uses RFID and other technologies to tag tools or other items and pair them with a beacon location (truck, shed, jobsite, etc.). The ItemAware app is then used to see each item’s location and last-seen status in real time. Clicking on individual items gives the user a detailed history of the item including locations, manufacturer and more.

See the graphic below to view exactly how assets are tracked within ItemAware’s app.

ItemAware prioritizes precision. Tools located just outside a truck or on a job site will not be listed as being on the truck. The ability to know the exact location of equipment cuts down on time spent looking for tools as well as the cost of replacing tools that aren’t actually lost.

Compliance isn’t an area you want to overlook. Failure to remain OSHA compliant can result in significant financial penalties as well as unwanted legal issues for your company. Prevent these fines by allowing ItemAware to aid in keeping safety-related gear current with inspections – an important aspect of compliance in the utility industry.

Accounting for items regularly helps prevent loss while simultaneously allowing for smoother transitions between shifts. With ItemAware, we give you the power and visibility to make intelligent decisions by providing improved process, supply chain and asset visibility through innovative and modern solutions. This enables automated data collection, analysis, and notification – subsequently giving you the flexibility and knowledge required to make informed business decisions.

Ring Power Utility Equipment and Their Relationship with Concurrent Group

Ring Power Utility Equipment is a proud dealer for Terex Utilities along with other premier manufacturers of utility equipment such as Patriot Equipment, Spiradrill, Vac-Con, Brooks Brothers, Palfinger, Skylift, Prinoth, Manitex and National Crane. Ring Power also offers full parts and service on all makes and models of utility equipment, as well as a full range of utility industry tools. Ring Power Utility Equipment’s mission statement is, “[t]o provide innovative solutions at the highest standard through honest and professional relationships.”

Ring Power Utility Equipment began a pilot program last year with South Florida utility contractor, Concurrent Group.

Concurrent’s Experience with ItemAware

Did you know that tool loss in the utility industry is estimated at 30% annually, a value of approximately $900,000,000? Since adopting the ItemAware technology, Concurrent has seen a marked decrease in lost tool assets. Our intuitive software has helped Concurrent reduce asset bleed by giving their fleet managers more control and visibility of tools and equipment in real time.

See the graphic below to view the manager’s screen in the ItemAware app.

A representative from Concurrent Group described just how ItemAware has revolutionized the company’s ability to track essential tools and equipment.

“As they move around from truck to truck, we’re able to hold those accountable that had borrowed a tool, but also reduce the amount of tools that we’re replacing,” said Steve Sarno, VP Power Delivery and Principle at Concurrent Group, “This was the first system that worked.”

Steve Sarno also went on to say, “After implementing the system [ItemAware], I found $175,000 of duplicate tools.” This huge cost savings has not only allowed Concurrent Group to protect their bottom line but has also given them the ability to focus on their most profitable goals.

With the success of the pilot program at Concurrent, Aware Innovations and Ring Power Utility Equipment have begun pilot program discussions with two other major utility contractors in the state of Florida.

Mike Beauregard, Senior Vice President and Director of Utilities, Crane and Truck at Ring Power Corporation, describes ItemAware as “technology [that] far surpasses anything major that has come to the industry in a while.”

Concurrent further noted the ease of software installation. Because we know that you don’t have time to waste waiting, our team of qualified professionals work around the clock to ensure that you have the software in place when you need it most.

Click here to watch a short video that further highlights Concurrent’s seamless experience both implementing and actively using ItemAware.

ItemAware – Never Lose Track of Your Assets Again

This success story is just one of many that prove the value of our asset tracking and inventory management system, ItemAware.

At Aware Innovations, we believe in delivering a product that not only works well but also far exceeds the capabilities of other software products on the market. Our modern, intuitive software allows you to predict issues, reduce theft and flag items that need repair before they interrupt your work cycle. Think of the time you would save if you could eliminate the need for manual asset tracking.

We are here to help you. Get started today by requesting a free 30-minute demo with one of our knowledgeable representatives.

About the Author

Jessica Frye is an expert content writer with 7+ years of professional writing experience. She earned her B.A. in Communication Studies from Wright State University and has worked alongside companies in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Jessica is passionate about community and enjoys using the power of words to not only cause people to react but to take initiative.

Categories
RFID RTLS

RFID – What You Need To Know

RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, is a technology we’re sure you’ve heard of by now. After all, it’s ability to track item location and data provide endless benefits:

  • Increased supply chain efficiency
  • Reduced human errors in inventory
  • Eliminated cost of replacing lost or stolen items
  • Elevated security
  • And more….

It has numerous applications:

Companies and organizations have increasingly adopted this technology for the above benefits, and have additionally realized the advantage it provides in reacting to unforeseen events such as COVID-19. Subsequently, using RFID or another tracking technology is essential to remaining competitive in today’s market.

But where do you start?

We’ve been in the industry a long time and provide a basic overview of RFID below so that you can begin your journey towards efficiency, lower operation costs, security and more. To see how RFID compares to other tracking technologies, see this article.

Radio Frequency Types

RFID functions on radio wave frequencies, which are measured within frequency bands: low frequency, high frequency, ultra-high frequency (such as RAIN RFID) and super-high frequency.  These terms refer to the wavelengths of the frequency – low frequency has longer wavelengths, which increase and shorten as the frequency gets higher.

Frequencies determine the strength and distance of the signal. Low frequency usually has a weaker signal and a shorter read distance but is less affected by disruptors to radio frequencies (such as liquid or metals). This is important for environments that may require RFID tags to interact with these substances. Higher frequencies promise a stronger signal and one that reads at a farther distance but is more sensitive to disruption from various materials1.

This table compares frequency bands and the technology used in each one:

Chart comparing different real-time locating system technology.

Predominant RFID

Within the world of RFID material handling there are two predominate technologies used; HF and UHF.  UHF is the most predominate of the two due to its long-read ranges.  HF is used when short read ranges are desirable (such as use cases requiring isolation) or when the laws of physics prohibit the use of UHF (such as tracking of items that contain large quantities of water).

For this article, we will focus on the UHF frequency band.

RFID System Components

RFID systems are always comprised of two primary components: a transponder (tag/label) that goes on the item being tracked and the interrogator (reader). These components work together to store data about an item’s location, transmit that data and ultimately distill that data into usable information via a software application. Software apps, such as ItemAware, allow users to look up an item, see its location, and add additional data about the item (such as maintenance information, item history and much more).

 

Components of RFID System

RFID Tags: Passive, Semi-Active, Active

RFID tags are placed on every item that is going to be tracked. Different types and sizes of RFID tags determine versatility for different environments, infrastructures, and cost thresholds. A main distinction between tags is the method by which power is supplied to them – determining if they are passive or active.

First, let’s break down the types of RFID tags and how they work:

Passive RFID Tags are the simplest RFID tag, only containing an integrated circuit and an antenna. They do not transmit signals to readers, but rather engage when a reader sends a signal to the antenna. This is done through backscatter technology – without signals from the reader, the tag remains inactive. If the tag is located outside the reader’s range, the tag won’t have sufficient energy to send information to the reader. Because the tag does not contain a battery, they last indefinitely.

Semi-Active RFID Tags (also called semi-passive or battery-assisted passive (BAP) tags) communicate the same way that passive tags do – by receiving a signal from the reader. However, the semi-active tag circuitry is powered by a battery. The battery enables a longer read range than passive tags, but not as long as an active tag.

Active RFID Tags have their own energy supply, e.g. a battery or a solar cell, which is used to provide power to the chip and generate the RF signal for transmitting data to the reader.  Given that the strong electromagnetic field needed to power a passive tag is not necessary, the distance from the tag to reader can be significantly increased, yielding an increased coverage area for each reader. The battery typically lasts around 2-5 years before being replaced. Active tags can offer a longer read range – up to 1000ft / 304m – and are often used on items that need to be tracked over long distances.

Tags can be used on multiple items throughout their existence.

Tag Cost

The price of RFID tags considers the durability, frequency, volume of tags needed, etc. This means that there is not a straightforward price to share for each tag; however, passive tags are less costly than semi-active and active tags, and prices generally fall in these ranges (NOTE: prices do change based on the market, inflation, demand, etc.):

  • Active: Active RFID tags start around $25 / tag upwards of $100 tag.
  • Semi-Active: usually cost around $10-$25 per tag.
  • Passive: Passive RFID tags cost anywhere from $0.07 to $0.50 each

It is often assumed that passive RFID is the cheapest option on the market – and, when looking at tag price alone, this is true – but there are many factors that go into a final cost. Which means that what makes up your cheapest option depends on your requirements and the factors we continue to explore in the rest of this article.

Tag Sizes and Types

RFID tags come in a wide range of sizes. Active tags are generally larger because they have more components, while passive RFID tags can be as small as a grain of rice.2 Our engineers are continually engineering solutions that allow tags to affix to items properly so that they do not obstruct function and avoid being destroyed when an item is used. A recent example includes inserting a tag into a divot on a chainsaw for tool tracking, so that the chainsaw is tracked without risking damage to the tag during use. Another example is tamper-evident tags that are placed on weapons boxes. If the box is tampered with, the tag alerts users (like a security officer), increasing security and minimizing theft.

Since use cases are broad and tag options are numerous, it is best to talk to a professional to determine which tag is right for your situation.

Chart comparing RFID Tags

RFID Readers

Readers are essential for the RFID system as they send signals to tags and collect tag data. They fall into two main categories: fixed and mobile.

Fixed readers allow users to track items as they pass through chokepoints (such as entryways, stairwells, etc.). When an item passes through a chokepoint, the data is collected by the reader and communicates to the user that the item has moved from one location to the next. Fixed readers are the most expensive category of readers, but they also have the highest read range. A subset of fixed readers is an integrated reader which is often used in visible areas of indoor locations, because of its sleeker design.3

Mobile readers come in a variety of forms from a Mobile Computing Device that has an onboard computer, to a Sled that can fit on a person’s mobile phone and transfer data through Bluetooth or auxiliary connection. Users walk through inventory and scan to read the tags in that location with handheld readers. These readers are usually more cost-effective than fixed readers and are especially effective when searching for a specific item in an exact location.3 Once again, the right reader is determined by use case.

Examples:

 

An Integrated Fixed Reader: the Impinj Speedway xPortal R640 Reader used at the US Patent and Trademark Office

 

Zebra MC3300 RFID Series Mobile Computer

RFID Antennas

Antennas are another essential component of an RFID system, as they create the communication between the reader and the tag. Antennas are placed on both the reader (to send the signal to the tags) and on the tags that receive the signal (in turn transmitting the information that the chip is storing).

The signal strength between a tag and reader can be determined by the antennas, their size, polarity, and the degree of wave expansion as it leaves the antenna.4

Times-7 A5020 RAIN RFID Antennas offer the high performance and range needed for high traffic tracking with precision. 

 

SummaryThere are numerous reasons that go into choosing a technology that’s right for your needs: how a technology interacts with its environment, the current infrastructure, costs associated, if you need constant monitoring of an item, the value of the items you’re tracking and much more. While research can give you an idea of what might be best for you, it’s important to speak with a professional to make sure you are getting the best possible solution, with the highest return on investment. That’s why we are a full-service asset tracking and inventory management company. We built our own software (to create the best features on the market) and we specialize in the integration of hardware and software so that you can go from “start” to “tracking” with one company. We also source all hardware for you with our hardware partners that we’ve vetted to be the best. Contact us today!

 

Additional Sources

  1. https://www.impinj.com/products/technology/how-can-rfid-systems-be-categorized
  2. https://www.rfidjournal.com/question/what-is-the-smallest-passive-rfid-tag
  3. 1 (awareinnovations.com)
  4. https://www.analogictips.com/rfid-tag-and-reader-antennas/

Authors

 Bart Ivy, PMP

Bart is our Director of Automated Identification Data Collection (AIDC) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Solutions. A retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant and certified Project Management Professional, he handles your solution design. From defining technical requirements to deploying and sustaining your system, he ensures high-quality services that satisfy your needs. Bart is an expert in the industry and works with these technologies every single day. He’s our go-to guy for information on deploying real-time locating systems.

 Elyse Cheatwood

Elyse is our Marketing Manager. With ten years in marketing and ever-increasing knowledge of the Automated Identification Data Collection (AIDC) industry, she creates research-driven content based on market trends, industry updates and tech insights from reputable sources (including the professionals she works alongside).

 

 

 

Categories
ItemAware News RFID Traceability

Track IT Assets Using RFID and ItemAware

The US Patent and Trademark Office needed a new way to track IT assets. The process by which this was currently being done was taking too much time and was vulnerable to error. Read on to find out how implementing ItemAware and the use of passive UHF RFID helped them save $1.2M each year. 

Tom King, PMP, and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) won RFID Journal’s ‘Best Implementation of RFID in Other Industries’ Award in 2020. The USPTO wanted to reduce the cost of a manual process of tracking IT assets. This labor-intensive tracking process was subject to error due to the almost 1,000 people involved in tracking IT assets worth over $159,000,000. 

A New Way to Track IT Assets: Project Details 

To achieve the desired results of this project, the USPTO implemented ItemAware and the use of passive UHF RFID (RAIN) to track over 130,000 IT assets. Below are details of the project as outlined in the interview recorded by RFID Journal’s Mark Roberti. 

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has:

  • 15,000 employees
  • 8 buildings
  • Approximately 2.5 million square feet of office space
  • One main campus: Alexandria, VA
  • Four regional offices: Detroit, Denver, Dallas, San Jose

The goals of this project were as follows:

  • Reduce the number of employees tracking IT assets
  • Reduce inventory cycle time
  • Increase accuracy
  • Increase asset visibility
  • Reduce asset loss

Requirements of the project included: 

  • Minimally invasive
  • Cost effective
  • Integrate with current asset system of record

Results of using RFID and ItemAware to track IT assets:

  • $1.2M annual savings
  • Reduced Property Custodians from 804 to 275 (employees were able to get back to their real job, increasing satisfaction)
  • Reduced inventory cycle time from 10 to 5 business days each month
  • Accuracy increased 100% due to data from RFID
  • Increased asset visibility and better monitoring of contractor performance
  • Reduced asset loss to near zero

Conclusion – Track IT Assets Using RFID to Save Time and Money

Watch the video below as RFID Journal’s Mark Roberti interviews Tom King from the USPTO office about how they save over $1,000,000 every year using RFID to track IT assets. 

Read the use case on this project to get more in-depth details on how the USPTO uses ItemAware to track IT assets.

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