It's no secret that for some remodelers, jobsite theft is a very real concern. Now, thanks to a partnership between DeWalt and Ford Motor Co., there's a way for remodelers to fight back.

Coming this fall, Ford will offer DeWalt's Tool Link — a product with the capability to take inventory of all materials in a truck before and after you've visited a jobsite — as an upgrade in all of its F-Series trucks and E-Series vans.

Using RFID technology and an in-dash computer, DeWalt's Tool Link allows users to take inventory of their tools automatically, alerting them if any items are missing.

Using RFID technology and an in-dash computer, DeWalt's Tool Link allows users to take inventory of their tools automatically, alerting them if any items are missing.
Using RFID technology and an in-dash computer, DeWalt's Tool Link allows users to take inventory of their tools automatically, alerting them if any items are missing.

“We noticed remodelers complaining that a lot of their assets go missing,” says Chris Allen, vice president of security at DeWalt. “And it's not always a matter of theft. Tools are often misplaced as well.” The partnership between the companies makes sense, he says, because “unsurprisingly, a lot of Ford customers are DeWalt customers, too.” TAG IT The product uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to take inventory of tools and materials in the truck. An 8-inch square “reader” box is installed under the truck bed, and paper-thin, weatherproof RFID tags are placed on all tools and materials that users wish to track. Each time the truck's engine starts, the individual tags for all materials are identified using antennae in the “reader” box.

Central to the system is an in-dash touch-screen computer that uses a Windows-based operating system and high-speed Internet powered by Sprint.

“When the engine starts, the system does an immediate scan [of inventory] and the computer tells you what's missing,” Allen says. Users then have the option to either accept the scan or to attempt to retrieve missing materials before leaving the jobsite.

WEB AND MORE In addition to its uses with Tool Link, the in-dash computer is also fully Web-capable, so that users can access Web sites or print invoices and other job documents using a wireless printer.

The computer doubles as a GPS navigation device as well, complete with real-time traffic alerts and gas price updates, eliminating the need for a stand-alone (and pricey) GPS device.

Tool Link will be offered in F-Series trucks beginning in September 2008, and in E-Series vans next spring, but the product can also be retrofitted in trucks dating back to 2004. Though prices haven't yet been made available, users will pay a one-time fee to purchase the product and a monthly fee for Internet service.