Management of materials is very necessary for the smoothly running any construction project. The most common problems faced by the construction companies are supply delays, material shortages, wastage and lack of storage space. Without proper planning and order, there can be many errors in the projects. RFID (Radio-frequency Identification) can help construction companies in overcoming the issues and frustrations that occur when managing and tracking the materials.
Various RFID components used in managing construction materials:
The traditional methods like paper-based tracking used for tracking materials have lots of problems. The RFID technology helps in overcoming these problems that traditional methods have. There are multiple components in an RFID based tracking system.
A basic RFID based tracking system contains tags and readers. The tags are attached to the physical materials to be tracked, and the reader communicates the data from the tags. The tags become active only in the presence of the readers. However, active tags are also available, which are active all the time, because they have a built-in power supply. The active is little costly but they also have better readability than the passive tags as they are active all the times.
Using radio frequency, the RFID reader communicates data to and from the RFID tags. The data is then shared with a software system, where it is processed and necessary business decisions can be taken. The RFID tags are placed on the stack of the metal roof panels. The RFID tracking system gives the accurate counts of the panels in the stack. The system is a great way to check the inventory and monitor quantities.
We can also track the location of the panels in a warehouse storage space. In case of multiple storage sites, accessing the materials becomes easy as typing in the information about the item reveal the exact location of the item because it was scanned and keyed in. A different approach will be using different readers attached to different locations.
Systematic analysis of the inventory would also reveal the requirement of the inventory before the construction project starts. The required items can be pre-ordered so the project can start on time, and not be interrupted by having to order the materials in the middle of the project.
Benefits of the RFID tracking system for the construction companies:
RFID based materials tracking system provides many advantages over the traditional methods like paper-based methods. Some of the advantages are:
- Capturing data in real-time
- Improving the productivity of the processes
- Reduction in the paper-work
- A decrease in material related issues like delay and over-ordering that increases the cost of the project
- Improved safety practices
- Better project timing estimate
We can say that using RFID technology to track materials can improve the planning of the projects. When the costumers have a good experience, the company builds good credibility in a long run. Smooth process flow results in good customer experience which in turn means more business.
Areas of construction where RFID technology can help:
Generally, any area of construction industry benefits from RFID. It can reduce the incidences of the lost and duplicate items. The roofing industry, internal and external remodeling, new home building, precast concrete installers, steel industry, garage building companies can all make use of the RFID in all areas of the materials and tool management systems.
RFID tracking system provides better projects in construction
With the help of RFID, one can improve the predictability of the project estimates. The RFID system can definitely help in the kind of project where the system has been used in one project and then a project of similar scope and size is acquired later. The data acquired from the previous project can be used to determine the material requirement of the new project. This analytics can save a considerable amount of the time and keep the costs down for construction companies.
RFID can be used to separate different type of materials like bulk materials, engineering materials, and prefabricated materials according to the requirements.
Implementing RFID solution can reduce the cost savings
Overall, RFID can be used how materials are tracked and managed in the construction industry. As more people know about the benefits associated with implementing RFID technology to track the materials, its adoption will increase considerably. When companies become cost-effective, they can provide better services to customers effectively.
Healthcare industry is highly investing in the RFID technology that it is estimated to reach exponential growth in the industry by 2021. The reason this technology is growing is the number of benefits it can provide. If we go into the hospital industry, it could benefit to tracking surgical tools, to tracking patients and the staff.
Here are the seven ways RFID can be deployed in the hospitals to improve the operations:
Medicine & Pharmaceuticals
RFID is best suited for tracking RFID for tracking assets, especially liquids, which are hard to track. Special RFID tags are readily available to track liquid assets, mostly in pharmaceutical industry where the demand is high.
Hospitals have large demand of medicines that must be tracked in order for proper treatment of patients. Typically inventory tracking is done manually which takes time and labor. With RFID the process of inventory tracking improves radically. Each bottle or box is tagged with the RFID tags, which can be read using the handheld readers, fixed readers, or desktop readers.
RFID technology is also used for the authentication purposes by the hospitals and the pharmaceutical manufactures. Counterfeiting is a common problem with prescriptive and live saving medications. So many companies have chosen RFID for tackling counterfeit of medicines. They do this by placing a RFID tag inside the box within the box, and encrypting it with special code, that can be verified when they arrive at the hospital, if they are authentic.
Patient & Staff Tracking
For people tracking, currently passive RFID technology is used, along with the instances of active RFID technology, and staff.
RFID technology is used in the hospitals for primarily three reasons:
- To find the location of the patients
- Verify the patient of the information
- Reduce the wait times and bottlenecks
RFID wristbands are used for the tracking purposes of the maintaining and verifying patient’s records. The records are stored in the wristband’s chip. RFID based wristbands are best for patients because, it can help in giving right medications to patients and ensuring that patient is not sent to the wrong area in the hospital.
Active RFID is also used to track staff and patients. Active Real time location system (RTLS) is also used to identify problems in the workflow, mainly used to move the patients in and out in a better way. With RTLS badges, it can be identified how long have been in certain area and reports that data to the management team.
Active real time location system can also be used to track newborn babies. It can save child from the abduction. The hospital places RFID tags on the infant’s legs in order to track the infant abduction. When a child is found near the exit door, it will alert an alarm.
Tool tracking with Sterilization & Autoclave/Returnable Asset Tracking
All the surgical tools like scalpels, scissors, clamps and retractors are needed for surgeries daily; so these equipments need to be properly cleaned and disinfected, and ready to use. Shortage of tools is less dangerous than not dealt with these checks. With RFID we can track that RFID tag is sterilized for the prior use. A properly implemented tool shed light on sterilization, methods for individual tools. Not only tracking these items with RFID tags ensure that each sterilized before using, thereby tracking individual tools.
Items for single use
Out of stocks and inventory tracking
For tracking single use items, boxes of gloves, exam papers, RFID inlays are used. RFID inlays are very cost-effective inventory solution for single-use items that are stored in the inventory rooms, shelving units or vending machines fitted with RFID.
For tracking the single use items, some hospitals prefer to keep record that the item to ensure that the inventory is used properly. This is where tracking personnel using RFID tags can be used along with the inventory tracking application.
Hospitals beds and portable machines are high-value items that go rarely get misplaced that can rarely get missing. Keeping track of these items is very important, because they are very costly. Using the RFID system, is an ideal way to keep track of these assets within the building.
Because of the expensive and critical nature of these assets, if an RFID system is deployed, hospitals typically use an active RFID Real-Time Location System (RTLS) to know where they are at all times. Hospitals can either implement the system to read only certain areas or rooms, while others setup their systems to cover entire hallways or floors.
Access Control /People Tracking
Security is another aspect of tracking people that hospitals use to limit access to specific areas to prevent people from wandering around the facility. With this type of system, the staff members must wave or tap their RID-enabled badges in front of door readers in order to gain access. Not only does this prevent unauthorized access to restricted areas, but it provides patients, medicine, and medical equipment with a level of security that deters theft or damage.
Laundry items like towels, blankets, and sheets are other few things of linen and textiles that are common in every hospital rooms. Each of the clothing items must be washed properly for the next patient. Any efficient way to keep track of these items must be washed for the use of next patient. The way to check if the clothing items is washed or not is through RFID laundry tags
1. Reduce Manual count and manual work
Big organizations with laundry requirements spend time sorting textiles for the purposes of the laundry. The sorting process is done with the help of 2-8 peoples. With RIFD systems, RIFD tags are attached to clothing item, and when that cloth move through assembly line, an RFID reader sends an signal to read the tag. When the tag is identified, the software determines where that cloth goes next in the process line.
2. Provide Wash Count accurately
The wash cycle of the clothing material help predict the end-of-the-life of the garment. Most clothing items help withstand a certain number of wash cycle before they start to wear and tear. When there is no record of wash cycle count, predicting the end of the life of the garment and clothing items if difficult which can cause delay in reordering of replacements.
RFID tags are sewed into every new fabric, and when garment is released from the washing machine, RFID readers detect the tags sewed in the garment. This way, the software keep update of wash count cycle. When the software detects the clothing have reached it’s maximum wash cycles, it can notify the user to reorder that type of clothing material. With RFID system in place, the company make sure that each garment or linen are in stock, and therefore there is no lag time.
3. Provide fast Visibility Into Inventory .
Without the proper visibility of the inventory, it becomes hard to run operations efficiently, and prevent items from being lost. If there is no inventory count system in place, there may be inefficiency in the day-to-day operations due to inaccurate inventory.
RFID tags sewed in the clothing items help companies to make inventory count faster and efficient. RFID readers installed in the storage room helps to find the lost items accurately. Counting the inventory before the clothing items received and when it is delivered makes sure nothing is lost in the laundry process.
4. Reduce Loss of the clothing items
Most companies across the world use manual inventory system to keep check on stolen clothing items. Unfortunately, manual counts have lots of human errors present in them. When the counting ceases, and some error comes in the count, the next step is to recognize the error in the system. Usually, when items are lost in the laundry process, there is no way to find the person responsible for it.
With unique code on each RFID tag enable the company to find the exact clothing lost, its last location. If a clothing item was taken from a room in a hotel, the guest can be charged for the linen which ensure company does not make any loss of money on the lost item.
5. Provide Meaningful Customer Information.
Companies that rent textiles can get insights about their customers through the RFID tags on the clothing items. Clothing sewed with RFID tags helps keep track of information such as previous renter, rent date, and rent duration. Keeping the track of these records can enable the company understand item popularity, item history, and customer preferences.
6. Enable Accurate Check-In and Check-Out System
Maintaining the renting textile business can be complex unless the company installs a proper method to maintain information such as loan date, due date, customer information, and linen information. A RFID software can provide a custom database that not only stores the important information, but also notify the company on the due date. A system with these features allows companies to communicate approximate back-in-stock dates to their customers. Providing customers with approximate instead of assumed return dates improves customer relations.