The benefits of using rfid and barcodes to track tools and equipment


Modern job sites require a fast and reliable way to track the location and status of valuable tools and equipment.

With a sophisticated inventory database system, your business can enjoy the flexibility of quickly recording tool transfers between job sites to boost productivity and efficiency.

Depending on the quantity and different types of inventory maintained by your business, there are advantages to both RFID and barcode (or UPC) tracking. The SmartX HUB Platform has a tremendous wealth of experience and exemplary track record in helping companies select one or a combination of these methods to custom fit their needs. These methods will be used with comprehensive and easy-to-use software that can effectively track inventory items from any location.

New technologies, including barcoding and radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking, are now widely used to aid this effort. But how can you determine which data input system is best suited to keep pace with the location and status of your specific items?

The answer may depend on a range of factors, including how you use your tools, the operational conditions in which your teams work, and where and how you store your equipment.

Using Barcodes to Track Inexpensive Tools and Equipment

One of the most widely used methods of tool tracking in today’s market, barcoding, is well suited for keeping an accurate inventory of:
● Inexpensive, commonly used items
● equipment that is housed in a secure, protected location away from the elements
● Items that are easily accessible from a shelf-based storage system
● Tools that are large enough to affix a barcode
Despite these advantages, using a barcode to track tools and equipment needed at multiple job sites or operating under rugged conditions may not be ideal. The elements can wear down barcode labels to the point where they are unreadable. Also, tools and equipment that do most of their work in harsh environments could easily see a barcode covered with dirt and grime. If this scenario describes your current working conditions, consider incorporating or switching to RFID tag tracking.

Which Tracking Method Is Best Suited to Your Needs?

Although each method offers unique advantages, the optimal solution, in many cases, calls for a combination of barcoding and RFID. Businesses can achieve greater inventory accuracy and improve operational efficiency by upgrading to a solution that combines the two tracking systems.

SmartX HUB Kiosk Tool Inventory Control Software

Working with RFID, SmarTX HUB is a fully automated tool inventory tracking software, enabling workers to quickly get and return the tools and equipment they require without a tool attendant – while still keeping the employee accountable for them. With SmartX HUB, workers can check out and return their tools using a simple-to-use touch screen computer integrated with the RFID reader. The worker scans their RFID badge to start the process and then chooses whether they are checking out or returning tool inventory.

The RFID reader will then scan the worker's items and display them on the computer screen. The worker confirms that the list matches their tool inventory and proceeds to their workspace or the crib to return their tools.

Using SmartX HUB tool inventory software, site managers will have accurate, up-to-date inventories of their tools and equipment, which could significantly reduce the volume of tools and equipment lost, hoarded, or removed from the work site.

Experience Automated and Rapid Tracking with RFID

While using RFID tags to maintain a database of your tools and equipment can deliver a more durable option than barcoding, its main advantages are automation and speed. Using an RFID tracking method helps automate the tool and equipment check-in, check-out process and can reduce the number of personnel you have dedicated to keeping track of inventory.

Also, using an advanced RFID tracking application, such as SmartX HUB, gives you a flexible self-service tool crib that can improve worksite efficiency and give you a one-stop shop for your inventory needs.

RFID tool tracking is becoming more and more popular as RFID tag prices drop and reliability increases. The tags have a number of advantages over bar codes when it comes to tool tracking:

-RFID tags do not need a line of sight so they can be placed inside tools.

-Multiple RFID tags can be read at the same time to speed processing

-The tags are rugged and generally last longer than bar code labels, making them perfect for construction inventory management

However, we also believe that there is a need for both RFID tags and bar code labels, as there are some disadvantages to RFID tool tracking:

-RFID tags are often more expensive than bar code labels, so they’re not always practical for inexpensive items

-They are difficult to read through metal and in liquid environments without special tags

We offer the best of both worlds. SmartX HUB’s asset tracking system provides mobile computers that offer RFID capability and can also read bar codes for ultimate flexibility.


The following video illustrates this shared, increase accuracy and efficiency of the tools cycle count process.

Benefits of RFID in Tool Management Process

The read-write capability of SmartX HUB RFID technology enables the automation of record-keeping for asset maintenance. This, in turn, ensures the highly accurate and complete maintenance records required to best adhere to maintenance schedules and optimize an asset’s performance.

As a technician completes service, critical maintenance data can be associated to the asset tag — such as service date and time, technician, service performed, and next inspection date. An asset’s complete history is always available to the technician with a quick read of the asset’s RFID tag. And in addition, the information can also be sent automatically to the SmartX HUB EAM module, ensuring the timely scheduling of future maintenance required to maximize equipment uptime.

SmartX HUB includes pre-configured reports that allow organizations to more effectively manage their asset inventory and utilization. The SmartX HUB software application includes several reports that are based on information that is, by default, refreshed hourly in the solution. 

Every business has a unique inventory situation requiring a carefully customized tracking solution. This solution is achieved by a thorough evaluation of the different inventory types in your arsenal and an evaluation of which type of tracking label is best suited for optimal workflow, safety, and budgetary concerns.

Here are some of the clearest benefits of  SmartX HUB RFID Maintenance management at a job site:

The SmartX HUB RFID-IoT system allows workers to locate tools quickly and easily, preventing the need to stop the assembly line and search for a misplaced tool. It can also help provide insight into how often certain equipment is used, allowing you to better control the depreciation of high-value assets.

You can use SmartX HUB Tool tracking software to send notifications and alerts to an inventory manager’s mobile device when stock levels are running low. Your central asset register can also provide the inventory manager with the supplier’s details so they can efficiently replenish stock.

Using a centralized tool tracking solution that integrates with your existing systems enables you to create and build a fixed register of all of the assets that are tied to your business. That allows you and your asset management team to access real-time data on demand, whether it’s maintenance plans, current location, utilization rates, or depreciation value. That register is stored in the cloud, so you can access it anytime and from anywhere while removing the need for time-consuming and error-prone spreadsheets.
Tool tracking software can help you improve the accuracy and efficiency of your asset maintenance by providing insights about usage in real time. Asset utilization metrics such as engine hours and downtime can help you decide when to perform preventive maintenance and routine fixes so you can keep your assets running efficiently. You can also set up alerts for when parts need replacing so you can avoid costly breakdowns.

Gain item-level data about every asset to ensure important tools and equipment don’t get lost, misplaced, or stolen. By keeping up-to-date on your tools' whereabouts, you can reduce overall inventory levels while ensuring adequate supplies across all locations.


SmartX HUB Solution helps you obtain a more efficient workflow by improving your control over your project, enhancing safety on your jobsite, reducing equipment downtime, minimizing safety hazards, increasing life expectancy of equipment, and reducing repair costs. It provides you with the necessary means to stay on schedule, stay on budget and work consistently to keep your overall project on the right track.

A traditional inventory management system typically manages tool inventory with bar codes and requires a tool crib attendant to handle tool issues and returns. With the introduction of technologies like radio frequency identification (RFID), new efficiencies in tool tracking solutions have been developed.

These solutions, like SmartX HUB’s RFID, are fully automated, enabling workers to quickly get and return the tools they require without a tool attendant while still keeping the employee accountable for them.

SmartX HUB's RFID tool tracking also provides real-time tool visibility with a completely automated self-service kiosk and inventory management tool.

By automating your processes with SmartX HUB RFID-IoT technology you can cut daily operational costs by significantly reducing labor and error costs through process automation. SmartX HUB offers a scalable platform that’s customizable and simple to use, easily fitting into your unique business process. To make it even easier, SmartX HUB runs on any web browser as well as any Windows, iOS or Android device.

SmartX HUB’s global presence, coupled with its deep industry and business transformation expertise, has proven that the methodologies and experience gained from thousands of worldwide engagements help clients achieve real business results and innovation quickly and cost-effectively.

To get more information on how we can help you overcome the challenges to your construction business or to check out a free demo, contact us.


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Contact us at the SmartX office nearest to you or submit a business inquiry online.

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