Tool tracking

I need to put in place a tool tracking solution at my construction project. I work for a development company and we put it in our contract that we own all small tools that cost more than $1,000.
The project is over two years old and we are just now putting this technology in place. We want to bar-code all $1,000+ small tools and keep a record of them.
Here is my question: What issues are involved tracking smalls tools on a construction site?
Do I need metal bar codes? Can I glue on the bar codes or do I need to rivet them on?
What are some off the shelf solutions that suit my purposes?
Thanks,
Matt M. in NV
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RFID would be better than a bar code. http://www.engadget.com/2005/06/14/rfid-prevents-power-tool-theft / http://www.allaura.com/tool-tracking.cfm
R
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Do you think passive RFID or active RFID is a better choice?
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I am not qualified to comment on the relative merits - maybe others here have firsthand experience with tracking inventory with RFID and would be able to answer your questions. I was simply pointing you in a good direction to continue your investigation. Good luck with it. Let me know which way you decide to go and why - it's interesting stuff.
R
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wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID
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I was a bit surprised to see that article touting RFID for tools. I had read that Metal creats problems with using RFID. But I just googled for RFID and Metal, and got the following articles that say it is viable, as long as there is some consideration for the metal. So, there are RFID tags that will work when attached to metal. But, I don't think the RFID tags can be read if they are inside a metal tool box. I imagine tool tracking is a common request, so the experts should be able to advise you.
Here are the articles I came across...
http://www.usingrfid.com/features/read.asp?id=24
http://www.zebra.com/id/zebra/na/en/index/rfid/faqs/tag_application_performance_different_products_surfaces.html
http://www.rfidnews.org/weblog/2006/10/27/savr-partners-with-holt-cat-rfid-for-tools-in-the-game-plan /
Joe Dunfee
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On Jan 24, 12:47am, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

You are right. RFID is not a complete solution for theft prevention because it can be defeated by a Faraday Cage.
The metal toolbox that you are talking about is a Faraday Cage.
At the least, we can use the RFID to do basic tool tracking and cataloging.
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Here are a few more thoughts, but they are untested;
RFID could still be a good way to hunt for a missing tool. There are RFID keychain finders available now that have a reasonable range. (many RFID systems work in the range of a few inches). The long range ones normally require a battery in the tag. If I recall, the battery in the key chain tag lasted about 3 mos, but more industrial versions last over a year. Sorry, I can't find the article about the key-chain finder. but I just Googled and found this article;
http://www.engadget.com/2005/06/14/rfid-prevents-power-tool-theft /
I wonder if weight would be a good way to track tools. If they are on rolling boxes, then rolling it over a scale should give you an indication of if something were missing.
A way to visually track if a tool is missing is to make a mark where they go. for example on a peg-board, with the tool in place, trace around the tool with a marker. Then you can easily see where it goes, or if something is missing. Of course, you need to keep it updated... the problem is how to erase the mark for a tool you no longer have.
Perhaps an easier way is to glue hangers for each tool, and mark the name of the tool with a sticker on top of the hook. Then an empty hanger indicates a missing tool.
For tools that can't be hung, or in drawers in a tool box, place a sheet of foam in the drawer. Lay the tools in an orderly way on the foam, and trace around them. Then cut out the foam to form a place to hold the tool. Remove the foam and glue a sheet of cardboard to form a bottom to the pocket, so that small tools don't slide underneath the foam.
I must be in the mood to ramble. Anyway, let everyone know your solution.
Joe Dunfee
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I found the key-chain finder I was refering to;
http://www.loc8tor.com
The "lite" version is $80, 400ft range. Comes with two tags, and can register up to 4 tags.
The next step up is $100 and has 600ft range, two tags, can register up to 7 tags.
Extra tags are $45 for two.
I am puzzled why the units are so limited in the number of tags they can register. They should be able to handle hundreds! The tags need button batteries, which can last 9mos if the tracker is used once a day. They measure about 3/4"x1 1/4"x1/4".
For tool theft, the thief can just remove the tag, but it might be viable to put the tags inside some tools like cordless drills. But that would make battery replacement a problem. Maybe you can hack it by putting in a much larger battery, such as 2 AAA's and wiring them to the tag.
Joe Dunfee
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On Wed, 30 Jan 2008 17:20:38 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

For cordless tools, you could perhaps setup the system so the tag is powered both from an internal rechargable batter, and the tool's battery (which also recharges the tag's battery). That way you'd probalby never need to replace the battery, and the tools battery would have to have been removed for a long time beofre the tag stopped functioning.
As to the limits on the number of tags, I'd say contact the seller and tell them what you need, I'm sure they'll have a system that works for you.

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I thought of something like that, but the electronics would not be simple. Just adding a resistor to step the voltage down would not do the trick on such a low-current device. Still, if two button batteries last for 9mos, two AAA's should last for years.
Regarding the number of tags. I just realized that you could just purchase more readers. The system is designed so that one owner's tag will not be picked up by another's reader. So, you could use one tracker for remotes 1 to 8, and another for numbers 9-16.
Joe Dunfee
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On Thu, 31 Jan 2008 06:33:18 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I'm an EE, and certainly it would work just that way. Say a 18.0 volt tool, and the RFID tag takes 1.5 volts (single non-lithium cell) then two resistors, in series between the 18.0 volts and ground on the battery. Choose resistor values of, say, 9.1K connected to the +18V connected to a 820 ohm then to ground. From the junction of the 9.1K and the 820 ohm resistors, to ground yuo will have about 1.5 volts. If you are going to charge a rechargable battery, you'd need more than 1.5 volts ideally, but I think you get the idea. Battery drain on the main battery would be nominal. If you use both the rechargable tool's battery, and the battery in the device, an isolation diode would be needed to prevent the RFID's battery from draining through the 820 ohm resistor. I low forward voltage diode would work, as would adjusting the value of the 820 ohm resistor up slightly to comphensate.
Lithium cells, and double buttons would be about 3 volts, so the resistor values would again need slight adjusting. The adjustment is linear, reduce the 9.1K by about 820 ohms, and increase the 820 by the same amount would double the voltage.

Been there, done that... (Used AA's not AAAs, but the same difference) It's been about six or seven years now. I think they are starting to get weak, but they still work! <bg> If you have room for the batteries this is a viable way, but don't forget you'll need a battery holder, mounting, etc, while the resistors won't need nearly as much to hold them in.

I'm not sure I"d want to be carrying around a bunch of readers however... But that depends on how many tags you need to read.
Also you should institute a death penalty on those who lift tools... That will cut down on losses too. (before I get flamed too much, that death penalty is: "I see that tool in your trunk is not yours, please put it back, go to the manager's office and get your pay, and don't come back." (The job is dead!)

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Wouldn't these two resistors continuously drain the battery? Perhaps you mean that the power is only applied to these resistors when the switch is pulled. Then the series resistors charge the transponder battery? Is this right?
Joe Dunfee
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On Thu, 31 Jan 2008 19:45:31 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

The drain is very small, much less than the self-discharge rate of a NI-CAD battery for exmaple. The battery would go dead on its own long before the resistors drained it.

No, though you could do that, you are probably makeing it more complex than it needs to be.

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PeterD wrote:
...

Self-discharge is <<2 mA??? (Just asking, seems high ottomh....)
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dpb wrote: ...

That of course should have been >>2 mA for self-discharge to be faster than the load current...
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one of these days, take a moderately good nicad and put a 2 mA load on it, and see what I get for lifespan versus lifespan without any load. Long term test, this would take weeks to perform.
(wouldn't it be funny to find that the loaded test had a greater life?)
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Self-discharge varys a *lot* with respect to the quality of the battery, so I'd be reluctant to quote hard numbers. I don't count on a NICAD holding a charge for more than a few weeks generally. 2 mA isn't much current, but it would probably be quite possible to increase the resistance by an order of magnitude (say to 100K from 10K) and that would cut the parasitic current drain by 10 as well.
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On Jan 26, 8:28am, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

We have decided to use bar coded stickers to track the tools. RFID tags for a metal tool cost $2 each compared to a bar code that costs 1.4 cents per sticker. For 8,000+ tools, the cost savings is significant and a potential theif can peel off a RFID tag as easily as a bar code.
A funny story: Our project has purchased a lot of beefy golf carts to drive arround the project. They have transponders in them. A few months ago, the police recovered a few of them in the back of a trailer headed to California. I wish I could do that for every tool!
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rob had written this in response to http://www.thestuccocompany.com/construction/Tool-tracking-12380-.htm : I have a fe friends who own construction companies and they use Checkmate by Dynamic Systems. They like that program becasue the company has been selling barcode systems for 25 years and understand construction.I think they are in Redmond WA. Rob ------------------------------------- Matt M. wrote:

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