Executive Briefings

RFID Alternative Helps Consortium Keep Up With Steel Plates Used at Construction Sites

Approximately one million steel plates are rented out for construction projects each year in the Netherlands, and keeping tabs on them is made easier by an alternative to RFID technology.

The plates are used for temporary roads, as well as trench covers, or to prevent soil erosion where buildings, roads or other infrastructure are being built. The plates, which weigh half a ton to one ton apiece, are provided by more than 30 different plate-rental companies within the country, and are billed on a monthly basis. Tracking the sheets of steel is often complex, and has caused numerous challenges to the plates' owners and their customers, who could be renting them from multiple companies.

To resolve these challenges, a consortium of the rental companies has created a business known as Eagle Eye Innovation BV (EEI) to manage the plates for all of these firms, as well as rent them to customers and track them via RuBee readers and battery-powered tags provided by a New Hampshire company called Visible Assets. While RuBee works at a frequency of 131 kHz, a RuBee reader or tag emits virtually no RF power, according to Visible Assets, and instead relies on magnetic waves to communicate with a RuBee tag, using a protocol complying with the IEEE 1902.1 standard. The company describes RuBee as an alternative to RFID technology that works in places where RFID cannot operate reliably. That includes sites at which transmissions must pass through steel, mud and water.

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The plates are used for temporary roads, as well as trench covers, or to prevent soil erosion where buildings, roads or other infrastructure are being built. The plates, which weigh half a ton to one ton apiece, are provided by more than 30 different plate-rental companies within the country, and are billed on a monthly basis. Tracking the sheets of steel is often complex, and has caused numerous challenges to the plates' owners and their customers, who could be renting them from multiple companies.

To resolve these challenges, a consortium of the rental companies has created a business known as Eagle Eye Innovation BV (EEI) to manage the plates for all of these firms, as well as rent them to customers and track them via RuBee readers and battery-powered tags provided by a New Hampshire company called Visible Assets. While RuBee works at a frequency of 131 kHz, a RuBee reader or tag emits virtually no RF power, according to Visible Assets, and instead relies on magnetic waves to communicate with a RuBee tag, using a protocol complying with the IEEE 1902.1 standard. The company describes RuBee as an alternative to RFID technology that works in places where RFID cannot operate reliably. That includes sites at which transmissions must pass through steel, mud and water.

Read Full Article