Most businesses are trying different ways to create and add value for their customers. Ford is not any different. You have probably seen the Ford commercial where Dennis Leary does a voiceover about how other truck companies talk about big engines, towing capacity, and other features to show their truck’s brute strength, but Ford now offers a truck that is strong and smart. One of the smart truck features is Tool Link, an RFID asset tracking system that can keep track of tools.
The tools are tagged with passive second generation RFID tags. There are two RFID antennas mounted inside of the bed of the pickup truck. When the truck is turned on, those antennas scan the inside of the bed for items on a pre-programmed inventory list. The data is transmitted to a reader mounted inside the cab and displayed on the in-dash computer screen, alerting the driver if any inventoried tools are not loaded on the truck.
This helps to save time since you know you’re going to a job with all the necessary tools. It also helps save money as you won’t accidentally leave an expensive tool behind at a jobsite. Ford was able to do this with the help of DeWALT and ThingMagic, a manufacturer of RFID equipment. Tool Link and the in-dash computer are available for the Ford Super Duty trucks at a cost of about $2500. It’s nice to see a large corporation like Ford pay attention to the needs and pains of small business owners and the self-employed.
Now, if you aren’t in the market for a new $30,000 pickup truck, there are other asset management solutions that you can use to track your tools. You can use a handheld mobile computer that will run asset management software and store your database of assets. Instead of using RFID tags, you would put a durable, synthetic or metal barcode label on your tools, which you would scan with the integrated barcode scanner in the mobile computer. Before going on a job or leaving the jobsite, you would scan the tools as you loaded them into your truck to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
This takes a little more time and effort than simply tossing the tools into the bed of truck, but it is a good deal cheaper and the asset tracking software has additional features, like tracking the maintenance and depreciation for each item. The asset tracking software will also allow you to track equipment in multiple locations or vehicles and to check out, or assign, tools to other employees. Plus, the software isn’t locked in a computer mounted in your truck. It runs on a mobile computer, which can audit any and all of your vehicles, and a desktop PC, so that you can import and export data and reports.