Near field communication (NFC) tags are gaining popularity due to improved on-site information and data capture, says Matt Ryan in this primer article.
With ‘big data’ capture now firmly on the agenda for many organisations, digital tools such as NFC tags offer a way to record detailed information accurately and efficiently – especially when accuracy of location is important.
But what are NFC tags?
Near field communication is nothing new. It is a subset of the RFID technology behind contactless bank cards, and is essentially a type of communication technology that allows the secure transfer of information between two chips.
The tech, which uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects, allows information to be stored in a specific location. Once near the tag, users then download a wealth of data in an instant by placing a phone or tablet near the device.
So how can NFCs help FMs?
Ultra-precise locating: NFC tags can be placed around a site to track location-specific issues or assets. This is an effective way to ensure the regular maintenance of projects, or where attendance sheets or proof of activity needs to take place – anything from health and safety checks on specific equipment to logging employee attendance.
“Off the grid” zones: NFC tags can function in areas where Wi-Fi or mobile signal isn’t available. Unlike QR codes, which are often used for similar kinds of data collection, tags in unconnected areas can still store important data for collection at a later point, whether they are underground, in a remote location, or have other restrictions in place due to the nature of the facility.
Security: NFC tags can hold sensitive information yet remain incredibly safe and secure. Only users with the correct app and permissions settings can gain access to data.
With legislation changes on the horizon as a result of the Building Safety Bill, including the new Building Safety Regulator, the onus will fall on facilities managers to ensure standards are met and that buildings remain compliant at all times.
Watertight audit trails that can be delivered almost instantaneously will be hugely beneficial to facilities managers, especially when faced with long to-do lists. Harnessing the power of digital tools such as NFC tags can streamline processes, allowing users to collect and collate information more efficiently.
Joining the dots
NFC technology can be particularly effective when used with digital project management tools. These tools use information provided by the NFC tag to produce detailed reports.
Easily downloaded as an app onto a handheld device, these platforms ensure that entered information remains accurate, avoiding misinterpretation of handwritten notes. Digital replicas of worksheets can also be completed in-app, creating a time-saving solution to the arduous task of manually filling in spreadsheets.