Tracking the location of materials on construction projects

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Song, Jongchul

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Of the elements that comprise the constructed facility, construction materials account for 50-60% of the total cost of a construction project and most directly represent project progress. Tracking the location of construction materials automatically should both improve project performance and enable effortless derivation of performance indicators. With recent advances in automated data collection (ADC) technologies, tracking the delivery/receipt and the location of materials on site has become more viable. However, the ability to track the delivery/receipt of materials from longer distances with minimal human efforts has yet to be studied. Furthermore, the existing approaches to tracking the location of materials on site imply economically prohibitive deployment of ADC technologies. The research presented in this dissertation examines the feasibility of applications of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to automating the tracking of materials and components on construction projects, with an overarching goal of automated project performance monitoring and control. First, based on field tests, it presents on the ability to effectively and simultaneously read RFID tags installed in pipe spools from longer distances, with minimal human efforts, and in moving platforms under realistic shipping conditions. Second, it presents an approach by which a combination of RFID and GPS technologies may offer the opportunity to densely deploy extremely low cost RFID tags with a few mobile RFID readers equipped with GPS to form the backbone of a construction materials’ tracking system. It then reports on field experiments based on the developed framework and algorithms. The solution presented here is intended to extend the use of current RFID technology to tracking the precise movement and location of materials on site, without modifications to current hardware and at a magnitude less cost than pure GPS or other existing approaches.




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