Ford truck with RFID tool tracker

Fordworksolutions Truck Rfid
Ford is announcing an RFID system for their big trucks to help track tools. (Click image to see the details.) Developed with DeWalt and ThingMagic, the Tool Link system comes with a bunch of wireless RFID tags that you attach to your gear. An in-dash display will then show what's in your truck so you can tell right away if someone snagged your hammer, or, hopefully, you just left it at the job site. Link to press release (Thanks, Steve King!)


  1. On the surface, this appears to be a great idea, but I wonder how many guys in construction are knowledgeable about the security risks of RFID? I bet a lot of guys have a box lid for their trucks that locks and leave their tools in it, so they don’t have to load and unload their tools everyday. As people can’t see what’s inside, they probably have few break-ins. But now someone with a RFID reader could scan a bunch of trucks, find the ones with the most valuable tools, and break in.

  2. This is great! Even more SPYCHIPS in my life.

    Now the government ( and retailers of course) will be able to track everything i buy, where i use it, when it was used.

    On Star will give them the location,

    My passport and DL will give them my identity

    The RFID chip in the tool will let them know what i used while there and of course it’s all time stamped.

    Now the radio station can directly target me with their ads as I drive by.

    If we switch to giant LCD screens for billboards then they can use them as well.

    And of course all the targeted mailings in my mailbox.

    An interesting concept – but i’ll keep my privacy.

  3. Great – now thieves can wardrive around, looking for trucks with lots of tagged gear to break into!

  4. I’m all for this–as long as Home Despot and Lowes tracks who buys the tools so that next time a construction worker loses their ladder, bucket, whateva road hazard on the freeway, CHP will know who to fine.

  5. how big are these particular tags? Foil “booster bags” should work. Maybe they can be zapped or cooked as well.

  6. My dad used a 15-passenger van with no seats instead of truck. Easier to secure, far more usable cargo space, better protection from the weather, but somehow decidedly less “manly”.

  7. Perhaps it’d be entertaining to wardrive around to job sites until locating one that has multiple such vehicle/tool combinations, and randomly shuffle the tagged tools between them.

  8. By my reading of it, the tags are assigned to tools by the user. Meaning someone “wardriving” would only get a bunch of tag numbers, not a listing of specific tools. It’s hard to decide if #A6F9001625 is more valuable than #A6F8876334.

  9. Now if they could put a GPS type tracing program with it … would that be cool to find your stolen tools. I am tired of replacing stuff that disappears off of job sites.

  10. I can’t decide if the “oh no, spychips”-crowd is serious on this one, or just being sarcastic.

    Some are starting to sound like the “barcodes are the mark of the beast” crowd in the 80’s.

  11. I’m waiting for the homing beacon with a display mounted in the dash. That’s what Jimmy Bond would have in his pickup. And rockets behind the headlights – gotta have those for when you get to the tool thief.

  12. I don’t lose things on the road nearly as often as I lose them in my own shop. Help me find that dang left-handed framistat when I leave it under the right-rear fender of the Throckmorton Thunderpup and I’ll be a happy camper.

  13. now there’s a gadget! RFID finder tags. Your exclusive number on all of them, your reader/direction finder/locater to use to find tagged stuff in your messy shop.

  14. I could use this to tag the assets I have at the trade shows I manage. If one of my tools or other stuff leaves the booth, I can throw a stress ball at them!

  15. “Finish Work job tools not”? FAIL!

    The window even says “ToolLinkForm”.. yay for Visual Basic!

  16. @cynics above

    There is NO security threat to RFID stuff like this. No thieves, no spies, no little green/grey men to worry about.

    The anti-RFID lobby uses a lot of FUD and speculation to scare people into ignoring the basic laws of physics and the universe. You also need to basically abandon all common sense in order to ignore the popular criticisms of the anti-rfid movement.

    RFID tags are incredibly tempermental and sensitive to distance – you don’t just wave a magic wand and say “Discover!”

    Tags respond to different frequencies, and the antennae powered ones have exceedingly short ranges – millimeters to *maybe* 2 feet if you’re lucky.

    In order to test for a particular tag, you’ll need to know what you’re reading – which means knowing what to look for, and having the appropriate scanning hardware. On the bright side, that means you know what the max-range is for a response. On the downside, if you need another tag scanned… Get a new antennae and hardware assembly. ‘Special’ readers can read more than 1 ‘major’ tag… there’s no standard though and everyone is pushing for their own to be adopted, so they’re pretty meaningless.

    The tags themselves contain a VERY limited amount of information… usually just a MFG id and a serial number. The real data is in a database.

    So really what you want to do is hack every car / house with a computer , find one that has an RFID tag database, find out which ones have valuable stuff, then get the right hardware to try and play ‘metal detector’ and find the damn things. Range will be a huge issue, so you’ll likely be resorting to a flashlight and your eyes.

    With all that said, this means that the old standby on thievery holds true – if you see a fancy car or house, then you’ll probably steal better things out of it. RFID isn’t going to make it easier, and isn’t going to give people the chance to spy. The only thing it will do, it make it easier for you to identify your personally-tagged tools in a truck filled with RFID sensors.

    How do I know all this? I developed RFID prototypes from ’01 to ’05. I helped build the first in-store RFID wall that was put in WalMart stores, a GPS enabled RFID truck for WalMart & Department of Homeland Security that basically did the Ford offering above, and a massive RFID enabled factory @ an IP paper mill. ( We covered the entire supply chain mfg->transit->instore ) One of the last RFID projects I worked on was a ‘home’ kit that would let people tag their own stuff ( we did boxes of electronics parts and tools), store it, then use a ‘magic wand’ to try and find it in the right bins. I’m 3yrs out of the industry, but I’ll still say that I have a very good understanding of this.

  17. Of course, it’s Windows-based so you know it’ll be 100% accurate and never crash on you … yea, this will end well.

  18. @19 Don’t you go bringing that logic and reason into the old-fashioned pitchfork mob that’s going on.

    Now, if only my pitchfork hadn’t been stolen from my truck.

  19. LOL – Ford should market this RFID truck to do more than just track tools! “Cooler-hopping” (i.e., swiping beers from unsuspecting trucks parked outside of honky tonks) was a popular and risky pastime for high school students when I was growing up in Texas…

  20. Between this and SYNC, Microsoft and Ford really seem to have gotten into bed with each other. How’d they market that deal?

    “The innovation of Microsoft and the reliability of Ford…no wait…the innovation of Ford and the reliability of Microsoft…uhm that won’t work either…

  21. First generation RFID: the reader query the chip, the chip broadcast its ID number in reply

    Second generation RFID: when you get the chip, you program it with a secret key, when the reader query the chip, the chip waits for this “secret” key as well before replying. Strangers who don’t know the secret key cannot get your RFID chip to reply. If we make the “secret” key long enough, they wouldn’t be able to just try the keys one after another. But the “secret” key is not secret as it’s broadcasted by the reader.

    Third generation RFID: challenge-response mechanism obviates the need for the reader to broadcast the secret key, but this will need more processing power in the RFID chips.

    When wil we get there?

  22. @25…

    For this type of thing, hopefully never. Why? Because we shouldn’t have to pay for the complexity. There is no security risk in being able to remotely read a number off somebody’s tools. The reader won’t know that it’s a tool, won’t know what kind of tool it is, etc… Without the associated database, the RFIDs provide essentially meaningless data to any “attacker”. Encrypt your database and you’re safe. The *best* part about this particular system is that since the database is held by the user, and not some third-party, there isn’t even a privacy concern here. This is the kind of stuff that RFID *should* be used for.

  23. And the presence of RFID tags will eventually be meaningless; there will be so many that ‘wardriving’ looking for a collection of tags will be as exciting and profitable as hunting for bar codes is right now.

  24. Honestly, the day I can tag all my stuff so I can figure out if I left the house with something and THEN lost it, or just lost it inside my house? The day I’m a very happy camper.

    I’ve got (very) mild brain damage that gives me a bit of a short term memory problem, AND also “debuffs” my ability to perform basic visual closure.

    In laymans terms, I rarely know where I put something down, and when I look at it sitting on the counter/desk/shelf at a funny angle, I don’t get that moment of recognition that tells you you’ve found it.

    Being able to wand-over my counter-top and know that stupid book/keyring/mug/whatever is on it SOMEWHERE would make my day.

  25. if by responding you mean showing people how to do it for almost free or free, sure. What cuts into their sales more? Deletion or unbeatable competition?

  26. oh, I got my first 419 letter email in a long time (SA iso Nigeria this time) It was so nostalgic I forwarded it to all my friends.

  27. I got one last week that came with a response receipt in Outlook. They’re getting more annoying.

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