In our previous blog, we discussed the high-level benefits of employing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solution in a make ready or one-touch make ready (OTMR) environment. Having all the pole and attachment information stored in a database and tagged with an RFID chip allows for people (or robots) in the field to quickly assess the poles’ information and receive detailed instructions for make ready construction. This same process can be applied across many aspects of the network build and management cycle, making it more efficient and accurate. Who doesn’t want that?
It is relatively standard to have a generous “adder” applied to the volume of materials during the procurement process to account for loss and damages during the construction phase. Poor inventory management often results in construction sites lacking crucial materials or having excessive materials that are being unnecessarily exposed to damage or possible loss. Implementing an RFID solution from the beginning can mitigate this issue and allow for a procurement volume more consistent with the engineered design. Ideally, our industry can begin working with the manufacturers to include RFID tags embedded in network-crucial products as a standard service. Their sizes, shapes, and implementations are boundless, and all because someone found a unique and compact way to marry a microchip to an antenna.
Once a tag has been added to an asset, many opportunities to improve the infrastructure management process from start to finish come into play. Consider smart warehouse management, for example. There is already a plethora of RFID warehouse management software. Using this solution, a company can instantly track what comes in and out of its construction yards, as well as where that inventory is located within the yard. Having RFID-equipped inventory and scanner-equipped trucks also allows for individual assets to be assigned to a specific construction site, truck or person. Another example is as-built surveying. Wheeled vehicles or drones can be equipped with high-power RFID scanners (similar to toll road scanners) to verify that the installed network matches the as-built designs before releasing full payment.
RFID, drones, and unmanned wheeled vehicles are everywhere now and being used in many industries. Many of them have human operators, but moving from semi-autonomous solutions would be a very quick step in future applications. Eventually utilizing these vehicles in functional “swarms” could make the OTMR process even more efficient. You could even create a custom OTMR solution for each pole owner, ensuring that the preferred firm for OTMR always has the most updated information and instructions. This could speed up the make ready construction process, while also updating pole information.
The possibilities in this technology are vast, as are its potential impacts on the future. While we’ve focused on RFID technology in relation to the OTMR process, other uses currently being explored include an autonomous workforce, farther reaching and more sophisticated tasks for the collectors, and real-time monitoring of utility resources. As our industry continues to embrace and refine these solutions, you can bet we’ll be back to discuss!
About Foresite Group
Foresite Group is a multidisciplinary engineering, planning, and consulting firm providing services to public and private sector clients nationwide. Our team’s collaborative process results in creative products and services that help our clients achieve their goals. Our team takes pride in enhancing and developing the cities and communities where we live, work, and raise our families.