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59 posts

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Topic # 225893 10-Dec-2017 18:01
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Hi,

 

Not sure if this is the right forum for this topic or not but here goes...

 

 

 

I am wanting to track all the tools that are used throughout a business thats involved in the building industry. All sorts of things like power tools, hand tools, ladders etc - any equipment thats mobile basically.

 

There are many solutions out there but they seem to be very pricey and made for large organisations and I'm wondering if I can go it alone by crafting together my own solution somehow?

 

Would anyone be able to point me in the direction of where I can find more info or better still, have an actual solution in mind?

 

Basic requirements would be:

 

1. Super simple tag/ sticker that can be applied to every item

 

2. Ability to know who has the item "checked out" to them at anytime

 

3. Ability to store/ enter basic details about that item (make, model, last service date, next service date etc)

 

4. Ability to see what location the item is intended to be used at (not fussed about live GPS tracking at this stage but that would be amazing if it could do that) and how long it is to be used at that location for.

 

5. Ability for a mobile phone to be able to read the tag/ sticker

 

6. Ability to extract data or reports for all items. 

 

Thanks in advance for any help :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1916160 10-Dec-2017 18:44
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RFID would only do checking check out type thing wouldn’t it?

Unless there were readers all over the place (ie each site)

What about tile type devices? Bluetooth based. But it uses crowd sourcing for location tracking.




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IcI

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  Reply # 1916264 10-Dec-2017 21:04
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davidcole: ... What about tile type devices? Bluetooth based. But it uses crowd sourcing for location tracking.

 

My thoughts exactly. Tile and Trakr use Bluetooth and their respective apps on other peoples phones. Trakr also seems to have a partner program. Maybe you could build a front end to accomplish point 2, 3, 4 and 6. If everyone of your builders / workers had the app installed on their phones, you could easily know the location and verify it is where it is supposed to be use.

 

I am not aware of any asset management software used in IT that would help you here. Maybe try to find the 'Maintenance Department' in larger corporations and ask them how they do asset tracking.


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  Reply # 1916305 10-Dec-2017 22:25
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QR coded label.





Gordy

neb

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  Reply # 1916592 11-Dec-2017 12:09
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IcI:

davidcole: ... What about tile type devices? Bluetooth based. But it uses crowd sourcing for location tracking.

 

My thoughts exactly. Tile and Trakr use Bluetooth and their respective apps on other peoples phones.

 

 

The problem with those is that they rely on the fax machine effect, without a high density of active Tile/Trackr users scanning the vicinity for devices, you don't get any kind of active tracking.

 

 

Something that OP could clarify, what sort of range are you looking at, and how small do the tracking devices have to be? If you want "every item" coverage, e.g. the handle of a screwdriver, then you're going to have to go with basic passive RFID tags. Problem with those is that you'll be severely limited in range, and need to deploy readers all over the place. Then it depends on whether you want range or size, a 125kHz prox tag can be read over distances of a meter or two but is physically quite large, while a 13.56MHz tag cuts the range to tens of cm but is much smaller.

 

 

In general though I think you're looking for something that may not exist. If it's a case of tracking high-value items, you could put active tags on them, and just accept the cost of losing low-value items from time to time.

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  Reply # 1916622 11-Dec-2017 12:20
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neb:
IcI:

 

davidcole: ... What about tile type devices? Bluetooth based. But it uses crowd sourcing for location tracking.

 

My thoughts exactly. Tile and Trakr use Bluetooth and their respective apps on other peoples phones.

 

The problem with those is that they rely on the fax machine effect, without a high density of active Tile/Trackr users scanning the vicinity for devices, you don't get any kind of active tracking. Something that OP could clarify, what sort of range are you looking at, and how small do the tracking devices have to be? If you want "every item" coverage, e.g. the handle of a screwdriver, then you're going to have to go with basic passive RFID tags. Problem with those is that you'll be severely limited in range, and need to deploy readers all over the place. Then it depends on whether you want range or size, a 125kHz prox tag can be read over distances of a meter or two but is physically quite large, while a 13.56MHz tag cuts the range to tens of cm but is much smaller. In general though I think you're looking for something that may not exist. If it's a case of tracking high-value items, you could put active tags on them, and just accept the cost of losing low-value items from time to time.

 

Yes, but in this case every user would have the tracking software, as the tools are supposed to be in use.  Which would tell you who has them, and where they are.  





Previously known as psycik

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  Reply # 1916636 11-Dec-2017 12:25
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IcI:

 

davidcole: ... What about tile type devices? Bluetooth based. But it uses crowd sourcing for location tracking.

 

My thoughts exactly. Tile and Trakr use Bluetooth and their respective apps on other peoples phones. Trakr also seems to have a partner program. Maybe you could build a front end to accomplish point 2, 3, 4 and 6. If everyone of your builders / workers had the app installed on their phones, you could easily know the location and verify it is where it is supposed to be use.

 

I am not aware of any asset management software used in IT that would help you here. Maybe try to find the 'Maintenance Department' in larger corporations and ask them how they do asset tracking.

 

 

 

 

Thanks IcI and Davecole all for the advice. I hadn't actually considered the Tile or Trackr options and they would be useful, but I think one of the issues I'd have there is that I couldn't have "tags" hanging off tools, as they are bound to get ripped off/ damaged at some point. Ironically though, I even have some old Tracks units myself so might just have a play with those and see what I can do.


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  Reply # 1916639 11-Dec-2017 12:37
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Ultimately for tools you need durable tags

 

If you don't have to have live tracking, then I would look at some of the approaches used in animal tags - RFID and barcodes have been around for years now and are available reasonably cheaply at volume, serialized and in a variety of tag formats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Mike

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  Reply # 1917753 12-Dec-2017 23:12
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 neb: The problem with those is that they rely on the fax machine effect, without a high density of active Tile/Trackr users scanning the vicinity for devices, you don't get any kind of active tracking ...
Very true, but if every builder / worker in your shop has a phone with the app installed, you do get a localised version of the network effect. The beauty of the Trakr / Tile solutions are that the scanning is passive; i.e. just like the Uber experience, it's frictionless and 'just happens'. Looking at the Trakr web page, there are already many devices in the country (in the map section, zoom into NZ). That means, even if it leaves your local builder network, others can detect it for you.

 

neb: ... If it's a case of tracking high-value items, you could put active tags on them, and just accept the cost of losing low-value items from time to time.
I guess in this day & age with thinner & thinner margins, even the repeated loss of a $10 hammer per month adds up.

 

We do have to remember that this device tracking is just one aspect of the requested solution. What about the assigning of tools to a person? The inventory management? The tracking of make, model, value, service date?


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  Reply # 1917792 13-Dec-2017 07:43
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I was reading about the Dewalt Bluetooth battery system and the 30m range and looking at the builder next door. He's working alone, 30m nowhere near covers the site and where his vehicle is parked. Does he leave his phone where it keeps his tools working or where it gets signal? The system might suit a workshop.

neb

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  Reply # 1919147 13-Dec-2017 16:06
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IcI:

We do have to remember that this device tracking is just one aspect of the requested solution. What about the assigning of tools to a person? The inventory management? The tracking of make, model, value, service date?

 

 

It's not so much a cost thing, it's practicality. Putting a (relatively) bulky tag on an even more bulky item is one thing, but tagging a screwdriver is going to be almost impossible with anything but a very short-range passive tag, which means you're back to barcode-reader level performance. At that point it's not useful in terms of tracking lost items if you have to hold the reader right on top of them.

IcI

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  Reply # 1931942 8-Jan-2018 08:52
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Saw the headline for this Kiwi based Fox Tracker and thought it might be a solution. That is, until I saw the photo and read that it requires 3x AA batteries.

 

embarassed


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  Reply # 1932014 8-Jan-2018 10:05
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IcI:

 

Saw the headline for this Kiwi based Fox Tracker and thought it might be a solution. That is, until I saw the photo and read that it requires 3x AA batteries.

 

embarassed

 

 

 

 

At a guess in the description of the product it is a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) device that is likely using iBeacon/Eddystone and the "Network of devices" will be receiving apps, that report to the server when they see a recognized beacon.  This is the same thing is those tracking tiles and how the Dewalt drill works.


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  Reply # 1932043 8-Jan-2018 10:33
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itxtme:

 

At a guess in the description of the product it is a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) device that is likely using iBeacon/Eddystone and the "Network of devices" will be receiving apps, that report to the server when they see a recognized beacon.  This is the same thing is those tracking tiles and how the Dewalt drill works.

 

The article says that it uses the sigfox network, which I have no idea what the coverage of is at so far but will be much lower power than anything with current cellular gear in it would be able to do so the batteries get a decent life. Drills etc have power in them already so just a matter of fitting the guts of the tracker into the drill etc. Piece of cake for the guts of a tile but that tracker might be huge inside it.





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  Reply # 1932044 8-Jan-2018 10:37
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Sounds like a use case for the "dream" of IOT, but nothing that can be delivered by the "reality" of today's IOT.

 

 

 

Maybe 5G will hold the solution.


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