Like many other industries, construction is starting to turn to RFID to monitor assets and increase efficiency. Some contractors are using the technology to create automated inventory systems for hand tools, while others are using it monitor the location of large equipment like excavators and forklifts.

Some companies, however, are finding the real efficiency gains can come from monitoring their most valuable assets—their workers. Two construction companies in Texas, for example, just installed an RFID workforce monitor service that keeps tabs on workers as they enter and exit the jobsite. Holder Construction www.holderconstruction.com, Dallas, Texas, installed an RFID system at construction site in San Antonio, and WS Bellows Construction, www.wsbellows.com, Houston, Texas, installed the same solution at a site in Houston.

The system, created by ADR Software LLC, www.softwareadr.com, Reston, Va., uses RFID tags affixed to hard hats and ID badges to monitor workforce traffic. Both Holder and WS Bellows plan to use the service to gain automated, realtime workforce monitoring, documentation, and analysis. Potential benefits include increased productivity, worker accountability, and eliminating unnecessary overtime.

Bruce Labovitz, president and co-founder, ADR, says Holder and WS Bellows are the company’s first customers in Texas, but says his system is now tracking more than 20,000 resources a day. As more contractors start using the solution, he expects that number to only increase. He says, “As we continue to grow and penetrate new markets, the value of the data we are collecting increases exponentially to our customers, their subcontractors, project owners and industry analysts.”

The whole system is quite simple and only requires installation of a portal, which is essentially a metal, tunnel-like structure that workers walk through. The portal is modular and operates independent of wired Internet connectivity or permanent electricity. Small RFID-enabled stickers with unique serial numbers are affixed to hard harts and ID badges and then read by the portal. There is also a mobile monitoring option that uses handheld RFID scanners.

The system’s software is Web-based, so users need nothing more than an Internet connection and a browser to monitor the manpower hours being logged at a site. Contractors can also use any Web-based device to see who is on site and how many hours have been logged for any given time period. According to ADR, the subscription-based system can be provisioned and operational in as little as 72 hours from order.

ADR’s workforce tracking system is just another example of how RFID technology is helping managers make more informed decisions about vital assets. In this case, those assets just happen to be workers. Although employee tagging might not be suitable for every application, it certainly makes sense on a jobsite. Knowing where workers are and how long it takes them to complete a task is critical for contractors that want to keep their job sites running safe and on time.