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FOD sucks. (That’s Foreign Object Damage, or what happens when you leave something behind when you’re working on something critical like an airplane or a race car. Wrenches, you know, can really muck up operating jet engines.) For years, shops that work on such sensitive gear have gone to great lengths to assure that every tool that leaves the toolbox makes it back home. When I was a kid and I’d visit my dad at work (he worked in aircraft maintenance), I’d see lots of tool silhouettes –pegboards with tool shapes painted on them in bright colors so you’d see color only when the tool normally stored there was missing.

Well, technology marches on. CribMaster, a company that sells all sorts of automated inventory management products, teamed up with Proto to offer professional-quality tools with integrated RFID tags. By mounting tag readers at various choke points (like the door to a hangar, for example) computer systems can automatically read the passage of the tools and mark them in the system as checked out or checked back in. The new brand: ProtoID.

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