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Managing tools and equipment on a major construction site


costain logo

costain-logo-rgb-.jpg-225-0The construction industry depends on getting the right tools to the right staff at the right time if projects are to be completed on time and budget. Costain has worked on some of the world’s biggest projects including the Thames Barrier, Hong Kong Airport, and the Channel Tunnel.

After it was appointed as main contractor on a major bypass project in South Wales, it chose CoreRFID to develop a system to keep track of tools and ensure staff had the right training to use them.

“Tracking tools and improving site safety are both important to us. The Church Village By-Pass project has been a first step for the business to see the technology potential of RFID to help.”
– Barry Woodman, Project Director, Costain

Who had it last? The challenge of tracking tools

The Church Village By-Pass was the largest local authority-led project of its kind in the UK and designed to provide traffic relief for three villages on the busy route from the M4 to the Rhondda and Merthyr valley. Costain needed to manage a huge range of assets, from heavy plant to tools and office equipment, at different locations along the 7.5km route.

Tools can easily be forgotten and mislaid, which means new ones then have to be procured. Often the problem is knowing ‘Who had it last?’ CoreRFID helped Costain to solve this with a system to identify equipment on site using RFID tags the size of a button. Software running on handheld devices was used to issue and check in tools, and control whether or not the staff member was entitled to have access to the item in question.

Details of tool movements were recorded on an online database hosted by CoreRFID, and which could be accessed by authorised Costain staff to provide instant information on where a tool should be.

Ensuring staff have the right training for the job

Staff members and external engineers were also provided with a safety identity card incorporating an RFID chip, allowing a record to be kept of the safety briefings they had received. Safety inspectors could then examine the cards in spot checks to confirm that staff had the right training for the tools they were using.

The system encouraged site staff to ensure they had the right training for the work that they were asked to do, reducing the risk of accidents.

Capturing data to create a complete audit trail

Church Village By-Pass
Church Village By-Pass: works included bridge and road construction, contaminated land reclamation, and reinstating natural habitats for local wildlife.

The applications used by Costain were both based on CoreRFID’s CheckedOK, a flexible system that can be used to manage assets, inspections and maintenance and personnel in construction and many other industries.

Checked OK can be used with different types of RFID tags, as well as barcodes and QR codes. Costain used high-frequency (HF) tags because they were lower cost and helped to encourage positive checking because of the short distance over which they could be read. The data was then automatically submitted to the CheckedOK database which kept a record of what had been done and the staff member responsible. Capturing information on site in this way helps ensure that it is accurate and up to date.

The Costain system also prompted staff to carry out any checks required when an item was booked in or out and recorded which staff member did it, providing a complete audit trail. For Costain, the Church Village By-Pass project demonstrated the potential of RFID for improving information about people and assets.


The benefits

  • Rapid check-out and return monitoring for tools
  • Reduction in hire and replacement costs
  • Greater accountability by identifying who had a tool last
  • Restricts tool check-out to authorised staff only
  • Improved safety by ensuring staff had the right training
  • Complete audit trail and better management information.