Guest Column | July 15, 2010

Guest Series Part 1: RFID-Based Materials Management - An Overview

RFID-Based Materials Management — An Overview

By Jon Chesser and Vincent Hsieh, Atlas RFID Solutions

Tracking and monitoring the location of construction assets on a jobsite is vitally important to project executives, owners, contractors, and suppliers. Yet this activity is a commonly overlooked aspect of field data acquisition. Timely and precise information about the status of critical assets such as pre-engineered components, equipment, tools, and labor resources allow contractors to bid more competitively on projects, and are directly related to the successful and profitable completion of a project.

According to the Journal of Management Engineering (1999), construction materials and pre-engineered components such as pipe spools, rebar, valves, cable reels, and structural steel elements generally account for approximately 50% of the total installed cost of an industrial project. However, current industry practices rely on the ability of human resources to accurately and efficiently track thousands or more of these components prior to material being on site, during receiving, throughout yard inventory life, and material issue to craft. Current practices require an enormous amount of human labor to constantly track occurrences of material relocation when there is an unexpected and unrecorded movement of these components from their original storage location. These site-tracking practices are inefficient, time consuming, expensive, and error-prone, leading to costly delays, decreased work quality, and budget overages.