APG in Clearwater, Florida is an electrical contractor with five groups specialized in the fields of Electrical Construction, Technology, Building Automation, Life Safety, and MEP Engineering. APG has been using a basic computer database and engraved numbering to track tools and assets for over 30 years. It was decided that a more up-to-date, streamlined system was necessary. In the early stages of planning, a simple bar coding system was researched along with new tool inventory and tracking software. This would simplify things a great deal and allow more efficient tool tracking. While this system was under consideration, the possibility of the use of RFID tags was also researched.
Starport Technologies was contacted and was able to provide a huge help with an education of RFID technologies, tag types, equipment and workflow. The final result involved printable encodable RFID tags to be encoded by a Zebra R110xi4 RFID printer. The legacy numbers in APG’s existing tool management database would be utilized in the new system to make a seamless transition so that tools could be tracked by both systems during the changeover. Each new tool would be tagged with a dual purpose RFID/barcode tag. The newly encoded RFID number would match the barcode number and the existing engraved tool number. This has enabled redundancy so that a tool can be tracked visually, optically scanned, or RFID scanned all by the same number so that there is no cross tracking or confusion. It also ensures that each jobsite supervisor would be able to track tools whether they have an RFID scanner, a barcode scanner, a smart phone or even a basic printed list. RFID has provided a huge benefit by reducing the time needed to take inventories of large quantities of on-site tools. This has aided in a more accurate and up to date accounting for APG’s tools and assets. During the entire process, from the initial research to the final working product, Sanders at Starport Technologies has been an invaluable resource of information that has helped APG to develop a customized system that has performed well beyond what was originally envisioned.