Top 8 Things to Consider Before Implementing RFID Tool Tracking

Written by Gary Andrechak

March 25, 2024

RFID tags attached to tools to help locate them and aid in tool check out and return to a central tool closet seems to make a lot of sense.  It’s an efficiency and productivity enhancing technology, but its performance can vary greatly based on how it is implemented. The best advice I can give is think it through thoroughly.  Here are 8 points worthy of consideration.

  1. Identify all the pain points your shop is experiencing with tools and clearly list them out.  Example: Loaned out tools are routinely not returned to the tool crib when expected; Tools get left at locations where used and go hiding in plain sight; tools are not receiving calibration inspections at proper intervals because they are hard to track down
  2. What’s the quantity in dollars we are spending/losing every month purchasing more tools that we know we already have?  What are the labor hours applied to missing tool searches?
  3. Specify a realistic success threshold that you believe RFID can help you meet. For example: employees should not have to stand in line for more than 3 minutes at the tool crib to receive or return needed tools.
  4. Start with a healthy skepticism as to whether RFID tags will improve tool management. Will  better software or barcodes get you a bigger bang for the buck?
  5. Identify if your employees would follow procedures to achieve success.
  6. Give scope and scale to the size of your project and how to implement it. Is your company looking to manage one tool trailer or ten cribs? Is it worth tracking all tools or just your high value ones?  Can we implement in phases to efficiently learn from and apply our own best practices to future phases?
  7. Is there enough space on the tool to add an RFID tag? How to attach them? Will the read distances and read reliability be good enough?
  8. What are the software options to extract greatest value from RFID if my current tool tracking software can’t handle RFID tagged tools.

Understand your goals and importantly understand the technology. Be reasonable in how much process improvement you can achieve, then proceed with trials and testing before diving in head first.  Contact us if youould like an unbiased assessment of your shop’s situation.

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