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Keeping track of tools and production equipment

For many businesses, keeping track of the tools and equipment is as important as keeping track of the goods being produced. Tools are not only expensive items – if they are not in the right place at the right time, it can disrupt production. As tools will often need regular inspections, failing to manage assets properly can also lead to safety lapses.

From a production line to a crafts workshop or construction site, RFID systems are an ideal way to identify and track tools, enabling companies to reduce costs, save time and improve safety.

In the factory or on site – how RFID tool tracking works

Each item has its own RFID tag which can be detected as it passes through ‘gateways’, for example at entrances or strategic points along the production line, or by staff using handheld scanners, for example checking tools in and out of a container on site.

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RFID enabled shower tray production at MX Group.

As each tool is scanned, the information is uploaded to the IT system. Therefore it is easy to see where it has been used and when and – as the system can be used in conjunction with staff ID cards – who has last used it. Tool tracking systems will also highlight missing items to help prevent losses and, perhaps more importantly, to ensure they have not been inadvertently left inside the product itself such as in the engine of a jump jet!

Safeguards can be built in to ensure that tools are only dispatched to personnel with the right training, moulds are only filled with the right material or equipment in need of repair or inspection is withdrawn from service. Tool tracking systems will highlight missing items by replacing existing checklists and paper-based systems, RFID systems automate the entire asset management process, enabling rapid audits and providing enhanced management information. They also reduce the cost of replacements and improve safety and accountability amongst other benefits.