Radio Frequency Tagging (Archived)

RT-151 Topic Summary
RT 151


Radio frequency identification (RFID) involves the use of tags, or transponders, that collect data and manage it in a portable, changeable database; communicate routing instructions and other control requirements to equipment; and withstand harsh environments. RFID technology is currently being utilized in numerous industries but few applications have been developed that are related to the construction and facilities operations environment.

The purpose of this research was to disseminate information regarding RFID to owner and contractor organizations, enabling them to take advantage of this emerging technology as it becomes commercially available. The research report provides RFID manufacturers with relevant information regarding the needs of the construction industry, so that future RFID products better address the industry’s needs.

RT-151 organized a construction industry-RFID supplier workshop to foster an exchange of ideas about this technology. As a result, five potential application areas related to construction engineering and design, material management, maintenance, and field operations were identified and pilot tests were conducted to learn more about RFID and its applicability to the construction industry. One contractor application, related to receiving pipe supports on a jobsite, was explored. Three owner applications related to 1) tracking smart instruments, 2) maintenance of pressure relief valves, and 3) operator rounds and mechanical integrity inspections were tested on existing plant facilities.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology also conducted an experiment using RFID to track steel components on a job site.

The research report also investigates ways to integrate RFID technology throughout the project life cycle, improving productivity, cost, schedule, quality, and safety. The primary areas are related to construction and owner operations.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : RFID Provides Time Savings

The five pilot tests showed RFID can potentially reduce costs for both owners and contractors. The contractor pilot showed that RFID tags provided a time savings, particularly when downloading data into a company’s procurement tracking system and when “flagging” an item to prevent duplicate entries. For the owner applications, there were lower rework costs, reduced inventory shrinkage, reduced start-up times, and positive material identification. (RS151-1, p. 14)
Reference: (RS151-1)

2 : Asset Management

From an owner’s perspective, the area of asset management could benefit the most from RFID technology. If manufacturers were required to encode RFID tags with standard information at the point of manufacture and to place the encoded tags upon components, the contractor could, upon receipt of the components, use the tags for inventory control at the job site, including preventive maintenance requirements that would apply throughout the life of the component during the project’s storage and installation cycles. When the asset was turned over to the owner, the information stored on the RFID tag could be used to track the life of the asset during its maintenance and operation period. (RS151-1, p. 22)
Reference: (RS151-1)

3 : Owner & Contractor Roles

Both owners and contractors need to investigate processes where other identification technologies are being used (e.g., bar codes) and determine if RFID is a better fit due to the inherent limitations of other technologies. Owners may need to take an active role in implementing RFID on construction projects because contractors may be unable or unwilling to cover additional costs involved due to their tight budget constraints. (RS151-1, p. 23)
Reference: (RS151-1)

4 : RFID Benefits

The primary benefits of using RFID technology are its ability to store data and retrieve it at a later time. In addition, it is more robust than bar code labels because RFID tags are not damaged as easily, can be easily read in sunlight, and survive harsh conditions. (IR151-2, p. 23)
Reference: (IR151-2)

5 : Implementation Tool #1

IR151-2, Radio Frequency Identification Tagging: Applications for the Construction Industry

This implementation guide provides construction industry owners and contractors with practical information related to implementing radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. The guide is intended to help owners and contractors better understand RFID technology and to assist them during the implementation process.
Reference: (IR151-2)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved quality (reduced errors & omissions), Improved craft productivity, Improved safety

Research Publications

Radio Frequency Identification Tagging: Applications for the Construction Industry - IR151-2

Publication Date: 08/2001 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 40 Status: Archived Tool

Radio Frequency Identification Tagging - RS151-1

Publication Date: 03/2001 Type: Research Summary Pages: 26 Status: Archived Supporting Product

Radio Frequency Identification Tagging: Applications for the Construction Industry - RR151-11

Publication Date: 12/2000 Type: Research Report Pages: 115 Status: Archived Reference

Presentations from CII Events

Plenary Session - RFID Applications for Owners and Contractors

Publication Date: 07/2000 Presenter: Carl Lake Number of Slides: 23 Event Code: AC00