Passive RFID in Construction

RFID in the industrial construction space is no longer a new concept. It’s outlived any technology “fad” status. It’s tried and true. More companies are adopting RFID every day and realizing the benefits of material traceability throughout their supply chains. For years, the primary form of technology utilized in typical track and trace applications has been active RFID. Active RFID tags are battery-powered and used in combination with mobile devices to track large, pre-fabricated pipe spools and structural steel. An active tag’s impressive read range and rugged exterior lends itself perfectly to those types of materials and tough construction environments. Active RFID tags provide incredible value to a construction Project; however, that durability and battery-driven technology comes at a price. In some cases, the price of active RFID tags is cost-prohibitive for further upstream implementation with Suppliers and Fabricators, thereby keeping a Project from having complete visibility of its supply chain.

This is where passive RFID comes in. With a typical read range of 10 meters, passive RFID tags are still a very reliable tagging option but far less expensive than their active RFID counterparts. Why? It all comes down to how the tag is read. An active RFID tag’s battery allows it to serve as a beacon that “pings” at consistent intervals, revealing its location to nearby RFID readers. In contrast, passive RFID tags don’t rely on an internal power source at all but rather an inlaid antenna that receives “pings” from an RFID reader within range.

Differences between active and passive RFID

The elimination of the battery lowers the cost of each passive RFID tag and allows for many different form factors. From small and flexible to rugged and durable, passive RFID tags are available in many different shapes and sizes. With the variety of passive tags available, your range of options include everything from single-use, disposable tags to reusable tags that can last a very long time.

Passive RFID Tag Collection Jovix

(From left to right, front row: The Omni-ID IQ 1200P and Exo 800, a roll of S+P Graphiplast Tags; back row: William Frick & Company’s Smartmark-17)

The lower cost of passive RFID also makes it feasible to tag every item on your Site and all materials produced upstream. Passive RFID tags, in combination with our powerful Jovix software, provide you with real-time access into the status of not only large assets, but also crates packed with small, ship-loose materials like valves, instrumentation, etc. Once that asset or crate is delivered through the Project’s entrance, their respective passive RFID tags are recognized by a fixed Gate Reader. When the Receiving team opens the crate and performs a quick sweep of the contents with a handheld RFID reader, a Receiving report is automatically populated. Future sweeps by a Vehicle-Mounted or Drone-Mounted RFID Reader automatically keep track of your tagged inventory.

Associating passive RFID tags to materials before they are shipped gives you complete, real-time supply chain visibility. That visibility leads to improved scheduling, more time on tools, and, as a result, big cost savings for your Project. To learn more about how Passive RFID might benefit your Project, contact us here.


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