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
Inventory Management ItemAware

Tool Tracking for the Utility Industry – Why You Can’t Afford Not to Use ItemAware

ItemAware is the tool tracking solution that will save you time and money. It eliminates the stress of supply chain issues, tool duplication, and theft. Continue reading to see why utility industry leaders can’t afford not to use this robust software.

Did you know that the utility industry estimates a 30% annual loss rate of tools, i.e., upwards of $900,000,000 “lost” items annually? The need to replace lost tools can quickly turn your budget upside down while simultaneously causing your team frustration. The last thing you want to deal with is a loss of revenue because you didn’t have the tools needed to effectively get the job done right the first time.

ItemAware is the exact solution you need to prevent tool loss. Our software gives you full visibility of your assets as well as all designated locations (trucks, sheds, jobsites, etc.). It’s time to stop the outflow of money spent on searching for, and often replacing, missing equipment. Invest in ItemAware today to make the worries of misplaced tools a thing of the past.

Read more below to discover how our tool tracking software will not only save you time and money but can also help you avoid the stresses of supply chain issues, tool duplication, and theft.

Prioritize Your Budget

If given the choice, wouldn’t you like to virtually eliminate the cost of lost items? ItemAware can help you do just that while also giving you time back to focus on your most profitable goals.

We’ve already shared with you that the utility industry alone estimates a 30% annual tool loss. This statistic is staggering but it doesn’t have to impact your business. You can reduce your tool loss rate to nearly zero and likely see a return on your investment within 12 months by utilizing our cutting-edge technology.

Review the graphic below to learn how ItemAware works.

Tool tracking can help your company stay within budget by locating and monitoring the location of every item being used. Stop wasting money on replacing lost equipment. Rather, invest in ItemAware to ensure that you always have the right tools on hand.

Stay on Track

Time is an invaluable resource, especially when it comes to getting a job done right the first time. You hired your team because they are experts in their field. Your company is paying them to use their professional skillset, not to spend time wasted searching for misplaced equipment. Let your workers get back to the job at hand by ensuring they have the right tools, in the right place, at the right time.

ItemAware features intuitive icons that give your workers the ability to see the exact tools they have on their trucks. Personnel with the right permissions can access views of all tools, trucks, jobsites, etc. on one screen. Our software gives your team the freedom to go to any jobsite with confidence.

Jobsites are busy and can often lead to a flurry of tools being touched by multiple hands. Without GPS tool tracking, lost equipment is almost inevitable. At the touch of finger, ItemAware gives you and your workers immediate access to see where a missing item is – whether on a truck or at the last seen location if the equipment is truly misplaced.

Avoid Supply Chain Issues

Nearly every industry is feeling the pressure of supply chain issues. Forbes reported, “[f]rom clogged ports and truck driver shortages to extreme weather, a multitude of disparate factors continue to create major breakdowns in critical organizational supply chains”. Certain tools can be almost impossible to find, especially when you are on a tight time crunch.

According to Reuters, “[s]ome utilities are facing waiting times of more than a year for transformer parts…”. Long lead times often result in lost revenue as many customers will shop around for the fastest, most efficient option. For this reason and numerous others, it’s becoming more important than ever before to keep the tools you have in order to avoid the stress and cost of replacing them.

Stop sending customers to your competitor’s doorstep simply because misplaced tools cannot be easily replaced. Better yet, invest in ItemAware to avoid tool loss almost entirely. 

Did you know that our technology allows you to view and edit an item’s status to indicate whether a tool is active, broken, in storage, etc.? These notes will not only help you keep track of specific item details but are also available wherever, whenever you need them. Avoid supply chain issues completely by using ItemAware to keep track of your most valuable assets.

Prevent Tool Duplication

It’s no secret that when you don’t know what you have, you end up replacing tools that aren’t actually lost. Duplicating your tools unnecessarily results in wasted money that could have been spent on achieving much more valuable goals.

One of our ItemAware customers can attest to this. “After implementing the system [ItemAware], I found $175,000 of duplicate tools.” – Steve Sarno, VP of Power Delivery at Concurrent Group, Customer of RingPower

What would saving $175,000 mean for your company? Use our GPS tool tracking software to avoid accidental duplication of equipment – stay lean with the tools that you need, so that you don’t waste resources on excess. 

Put an End to Theft

Your equipment is necessary for your business’ everyday operations. Without these items, your employees would not be able to put their skills to use and get the job done. At ItemAware, we know that some of your tools are high-dollar assets. But what happens when your much-needed equipment is lost due to theft?

ItemAware can help reduce theft and item misplacement with automatic scanning. At the touch of a finger, you can keep a record of when an item was moved, who inventoried it, repairs, etc. Additionally, with maps displaying last-seen locations, you can get alerts when an item goes missing.

Our GPS tool tracking software helps you narrow down people as well as places where items went missing. Let ItemAware provide you with the power and visibility to reduce tool theft.

ItemAware – Your Tool Tracking Solution

ItemAware is here for you when you need us most. Our robust technology will save you time and money while also eliminating the headaches of supply chain issues, tool duplication, and theft.

Our team would love to talk to you about how ItemAware can help your business. 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
Compliance Features Inventory Management ItemAware

ItemAware – Inventory Management Made Easy

You may have heard us talk about ItemAware but do you know how our intuitive, modern software can help you keep track of your “things” while allowing you the freedom to focus on your job at hand? Let our cutting-edge software take the headache out of inventory management.

Better yet, ItemAware doesn’t just stop at asset tracking and item management. Our innovative technology takes the stress out of compliance, prioritizes worker safety, and eliminates time spent searching for your most important equipment. Read more below about the features ItemAware can offer you including keeping detailed compliance records, real-time tool tracking, and more.

Compliance

Preserve worker safety and remain OSHA compliant with calibration, maintenance, and inspection due dates tracked conveniently within our software.

Keeping track of maintenance records coupled with inspection dates can be a job all of its own. Setup alert reminders in ItemAware to ensure that you never miss a compliance deadline again.

Worker compensation settlements are both costly and time consuming. According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, “approximately 15 percent of the Ohio workers’ compensation claims among workers in the utilities industry result in losing eight days or more from work and cost an average of $46,000”. Your cost of doing business should not include a costly settlement. Keep your workers safe and protect your bottom line by using our software to stay up to date on all important maintenance needs.

ItemAware offers more than just maintenance tracking. Review the graphic below to learn more about the additional compliance benefits of ItemAware.

Failure to remain OSHA compliant can result in significant financial penalties as well as unwanted legal issues for your company. Prevent these fines while simultaneously prioritizing worker safety by allowing ItemAware to keep detailed inspection records for you.

Map View

With ItemAware, you will have a map view of all assets and their exact location. This feature allows you to drill down into each individual truck to see your equipment. At the touch of a finger, our software gives you the confidence to know right where your tools are exactly when you need them whenever, wherever you are.

The graphic below shows you how easy it is to view the location of your tools and trucks. Additionally, users can quickly glance at their mobile device and know if they have all items (green thumbs up), if an item is in the wrong location (orange thumbs up), or if any items are missing (red thumbs down).

ItemAware also makes your tools fully traceable and visible to you around the clock. Did you know the utility industry estimates a 30% annual loss rate of tools: i.e., upwards of $900,000,000 “lost” items annually? Cut down on theft and lost inventory by keeping a history of your item’s current and last known locations.

Our customers say it best. “In the time that we’ve had ItemAware running, we’ve never had to buy another tool… if we reduce our tool loss by 20%, we could save millions.”” – Current Customer, Anonymity Requested

Need to know where your trucks are located at all times? No problem. ItemAware gives you the flexibility to check the precise location of your trucks whether they are stationed in neighborhoods, driving across the country on highways, or anywhere in between. Tracking your trucks and equipment has never been so easy!

ItemAware was built with you in mind. We know that you don’t have time to waste learning how to use complicated software. Our intuitive design and clear prompts reduce the learning curve. You and your team will be up and running in no time.

Always Scanning

ItemAware is always working for you! Our system is always on, reading tools continually. This means you know the current status of each item and you do not have to rely on workers to keep inventories current. This real-time data, made available by the use of geo location in the field, is an invaluable advantage that our competitor’s software cannot offer you.

Inventory Management Simplified

Our cutting-edge software is automatic – meaning no user involvement is needed. Manual tracking and updating item information is both time-consuming and prone to human error, resulting in lost time, effort and money. ItemAware changes that story by automating the inventory process.

Time is money. Decrease your money spent and stay on track with your budget by lowering the amount of effort needed to track your inventory. Manual scanning significantly increases the number of employees you need as well as the amount of hours required to get the job done. Eliminate the burdensome task of scanning barcodes by letting ItemAware automatically – and accurately – do the job for you.

Did we mention that ItemAware is mobile-friendly? We know that you can’t be stuck behind your desk all day – with ItemAware you don’t have to be.  You can easily swipe and view all item information on your mobile device without the hassle of being tied to the office.

ItemAware – The Inventory Management Solution You’ve Been Looking For

ItemAware is the exact technology you have been looking for to save wasted effort, time, and money spent on outdated processes. Let our software take the headache out of inventory management while allowing you the chance to focus on your most profitable goals.

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
Cellular GPS RTLS Software

Cellular GPS – DLA Gains 87% in Labor Savings

Summary

The Defense Logistics Agency’s Red River Army Depot reduced wasted personnel hours by 87%, using cellular GPS to track 23,000 military vehicles. During this pilot, the DLA was able to reduce the time it took to find a vehicle from upwards of 8 hours per vehicle to 30 minutes or less using Cellular GPS.

Evanhoe & Associates, Aware Innovations’ parent company at the time, was contracted to implement a real-time locating system for DLA as a pilot for 3 years. Bart Ivy, our Director of Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) Solutions, conducted a site survey, market research and a concept of operations (CONOPS) for DLA, recommending Cellular GPS as the best technology solution for their use case. DLA accepted the proposal, allowed Evanhoe (Aware) to execute the solution and saw the following results:

  • A real-time locating system (RTLS), operational 24/7/365 in all weather conditions
  • Time savings of over 87%: time to locate a vehicle was reduced from upwards of 8 hours to less than an hour
    • Man-hours were repurposed to profit-driving tasks
  • 98% accuracy rate of database data, with data current to within 14 hours
  • 98.69% GPS accuracy rate over 27 months
  • Instant location data with a map feature in ItemAware that gives users a visual route to the vehicle
  • An interface of location-specific vehicle data (serial numbers, item unique identification (IUID), etc.) with DLA’s Distribution Standard System (DSS)
    • This consolidates data from a wide variety of uncommon assets (from multiple locations) into a central, accessible database
  • System verification to authorize users by comparing their PKI certificates against an authorized user list
    • User roles and permissions were used to control the level of access to the system date once authenticated

Overview: RTLS Pilot Using Cellular GPS

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) sought to establish a materiel asset identification and location tracking system for 23,000 vehicles on its 15,375-acre lot in Red River Texas. With vehicles stored on 24 different sites on over 9 million square feet of storage, locating them was a tremendous task, and one that involved manual data uploads. This project resulted in site surveys and multiple reports on solutions, as well as an execution of the system for 3 years.

DLA wanted a system that:

  • Leveraged Item Unique Identification (IUID) or Serial Numbers (SN) written to various Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) tools and devices
  • Enabled continuous asset visibility, accountability, chain of custody and on-time/on-command reporting
  • Consolidated the data from a wide variety of uncommon assets in multiple locations into a common database accurate to above 98% with data current to within 14 hours
  • Had security for loss prevention or unauthorized removal from/relocation within storage facilities (for sensitive, classified or pilferable assets)

CSRA International had an existing pRFID III contract with DLA and was awarded a task order under that contract to implement what ended up being a pilot. CSRA used Evanhoe & Associates, Aware Innovations’ parent company at the time, as their technical Engineering partner. Bart Ivy led a team to execute this solution once Cellular GPS was chosen.

If you want to learn more about Red River’s mission with these vehicles, watch here.

Background: What Is the Defense Logistics Agency?

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) was started in 1961 to manage supplies for the US military. Today, it continues to support the US warfighter with locations in nearly every state and in over 28 countries worldwide.

The DLA provides more than $41.8 billion in goods and services every year, supporting more than 2,400 weapons systems and employing 26,000 civilians and military. It manages nine supply chains and nearly 5 million items. The focus of this use case is on their Red River Army Depot (RRAD).

Opportunity: A Manual Tracking Process That Proved Inefficient – And Dangerous

The Army Depot’s System of Record

The Distribution Standard System (DSS) is the Army Depot’s system of record. Not included in the DSS’ core functionality, however, is specific data necessary for uniquely identifying and tracking vehicles. The Vehicle Tracking System (VTRC) was developed to remedy this, providing fields for serial number, NSN, condition code, ownership code and location. However, there is no interface between the VTRC and DSS, so personnel must manually enter all data long after the work is accomplished. This makes it prone to error in keystrokes, the same data being entered differently, and induced data latency and inaccuracy if manual paperwork had discrepancies.

Manpower-Intensive Effort

The massive quantity of vehicles stored over such a large distance posed a challenge to RRAD. Finding and identifying each vehicle took hours. Historical records show that if any errors were made in the manual record keeping process, the identification process was prolonged – even up to 8 hours. Additionally, these vehicles are involved in nearly 15,000 official moves (issues and receipts when the Depot receives and deploys vehicles FY to date; or 1,994 per month), which adds more complexity.

“Imagine going to a mall in a white Prius,” Bart Ivy, Evanhoe’s (Aware Innovation’s) director of the AIDC project at RRAD states, “you come outside after shopping and there are 500 white Priuses parked next to you. This makes your Prius nearly impossible to find. The vehicles at RRAD are this scenario times ten. All of them the same, across miles of land. And the RRAD team is tasked with finding an exact one.”

Harsh Conditions and Dangerous Wildlife

In addition to the quantity of vehicles and the scale of the property, the terrain and outdoor elements in this location posed their own threats.

Many of the tags became eroded over time due to inclement weather. Employees who were trying to identify these vehicles had to wade into knee-deep mud in some areas, with brush up to their chests. Wildlife is also an issue in Northeastern Texas and interacting with rattlesnakes is not uncommon. The identification process also required employees to climb up onto the vehicle, posing physical challenges to some.

Solution: Cellular GPS Saves the Day, Requiring Zero Infrastructure

Requirements

Given the many challenges that faced DLA’s tracking process, the Defense Logistics Agency published requirements for a real-time locating system that included:

  • Operational 24/7/365 in all weather conditions
  • Reporting accuracy of approximately 10 feet
  • Locations provided in both narrative and visual mode
  • Ability to differentiate between multiple assets located immediately adjacent to and surrounded by like assets
  • A reusable tag that:
    • is easy to attach and remove, but difficult to become disassociated on its own
    • can report its status (last known location, last reported, battery life, etc.)
    • has a long service life and flags system if it becomes unresponsive or fails
  • Ability to interface with DSS, providing and receiving information
  • Event programmable
  • Report on movements, processing, workload, and productivity
  • Long span between any maintenance or update requirements
  • Expandable to other assets upon procurement of additional tags
  • Able to provide diagnostics in self-reporting mode
  • Have a user interface for authorized employees to the system, to allow user query and other work, auditing, and productivity management functions.

The DLA also required that the technology used be based on international standards to allow for competitive bidding of equipment as well as technologies that are readily available on the commercial market.

Cellular GPS

In a comprehensive market research report comparing real-time locating technology options, Bart Ivy recommended using Cellular GPS as the best option to support the DLA’s requirements.

Cellular GPS would be quick to deploy, with no infrastructure – eliminating costly requirements like moving vehicles for installation or long-term maintenance costs for structures that are in harsh conditions. GPS would also provide agility in parking requirements and vehicle movement that infrastructure would otherwise restrict.

Cellular GPS is over-the-air programmable, and motion sensor data and telematics can be transmitted to the software application that would interface with DSS. Each tag has an estimated 5–7-year battery life, making it the best long-term solution. It would improve location accuracy and provide instant updates when equipment is moved without user intervention.

The tags can also be associated with various items, allowing the DLA to reuse them, and provide a visual overlay on the ItemAware software app so that personnel can drive right to the vehicle with the provided route from their current location.

Execution: The Road to Automation

Decision-Making and Installation of GPS

Bart Ivy and 20 team members then deployed to tag all vehicles, associate the tags to the vehicles, and connect them to the database over the course of four months.

They connected the GPS to an RTLS module that allows multiple technologies from multiple locations to transmit data to the DSS and its subsystems. This technology included four main components: Edge Collection, Event Processor, API/Web and datastore. These four components integrated to create a complete system for managing, tracking, and inventorying containers and components therein. The ItemAware Asset Tracking and Inventory Management Software was selected to interface with DSS and display data to users. ItemAware has intuitive map features; item data, location, and status tracking; and much more.

“The genius of this system is integrating all data from all sites with multiple technologies into the DSS, allowing users to pull multiple data sets from one system.” Bart Ivy stated, discussing the efficiency it created by connecting not only the information at Red River, but multiple sites across the U.S., allowing verified users to access the information they need, instantly.

Evanhoe (Aware) developed custom interfaces with the DLA and Army Enterprise system and developed customer applications to support DLA’s work processes, enabling them to utilize this new technology and leverage its capabilities.

Challenges

Tags

Tags that the DLA had already purchased were opted for over the recommended tags, in order to save money. To make these work for the use case, the team had to address a couple issues:

First, the team discovered that the GPS location being reported by the tags was not their actual location.  After back-and-forth with the manufacturer, the manufacturer discovered they had made an error in their hardware configuration management resulting in several hundred tags’ SIM chip being associated to the wrong tag serial number.  Once resolved, the location of the GPS tags was accurate.

Secondly, the solar battery did not work well with the location of the equipment. As expected, solar power tags require sufficient sunlight to power the system; however, not all equipment was parked in locations where they received enough power to recharge the battery. When the tags were removed from equipment and stored until required again, they would not charge sufficiently to power the tag’s hardware. To resolve this issue, the removed tags were attached to the outside of the building to allow the tags to retain their solar charge. When the tag worked, the location accuracy was excellent.

Data Inaccuracies

Numerous data error problems that stemmed from manual entries had to be cleaned up and resolved during the data interface process. The team spent hours writing a script to clean the data prior to importing the data into the RTLS system, increasing the accuracy rate to 98%.

Results

The Evanhoe (Aware) team was able to meet the DLA’s requirements for an efficient system that tracked 23,000 vehicles in real-time, giving users instant location updates and directions to every vehicle tracked. It met data accuracy requirements and allowed verified users across the DLA to access information. The DLA continued to run this pilot over the course of 3 years. The management changed at that time and took the program a different direction, but we saw the following results in the meantime:

Time Savings

Our solution cut wasted time by over 87% – reducing the time it took to find a vehicle from 8 hours to 30 minutes or less. The vehicle’s location was able to be pulled up immediately, a pin shown on a map, and a route mapped out to get the user to the vehicle in the most efficient way possible. The amount of time it takes to reach a vehicle depends on the user’s current location but with our solution, it could be done in under an hour. This allowed DLA to repurpose 7-man hours per vehicle to focus on other work.

Data Accuracy

Scrubbing and entering correct data into the system made the database meet the requirements of a 98% accuracy rate.

Last reported GPS reporting accuracy was 99.8% at one location and 99.0% at the other, with a 98.69% over 27 months.

Access

The system was designed to verify authorized users by comparing their PKI certificates against an authorized user list.  User roles and permissions were used to control the level of access to the system data once authenticated.

ConclusionCellular GPS is Successful

Our team was able to design and execute a successful real-time locating system that met the requirements of the government and all stated goals of the project provided by the government.

About the Author

Elyse Cheatwood 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
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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