Management of engineered-to-order (ETO) components and their related information is a challenging task due to the complexity of information and its flow. Different information items are generated, accessed and exchanged between different organizations and they must continually flow through design, production, construction, and operations and maintenance. Current manual and labor-intensive methods are inefficient; as a result, information is frequently incomplete, inaccurate or unavailable during the life-cycle of a facility. This paper provides a vision of intelligent components, which know their identities, locations and history, and communicate this information to their environments. It proposes streamlining information flow through supply chains by utilizing radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. To explore the technical feasibility of intelligent components, component-related information flow patterns in ETO supply chains were identified and analyzed. Requirements analysis and corresponding technology deployment and testing were performed for three types of ETO components through different life-cycle phases. These experiments demonstrated that it is technically feasible to have intelligent components in construction supply chains by using RFID technology; that status information can be collected automatically; and that maintenance information can be stored and retrieved during the service life of a facility. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.