Australian Oil Refinery Construction Site Tries Out RFID
A global energy company hopes to use the technology to track the locations of hundreds of thousands of assets, to ensure that none are lost and work is not delayed.
The system currently being tested consists of Intelleflex long-range ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags and readers, as well as Industrial Automation Group's software to manage data culled from the interrogators. The company will soon attach Intelleflex SMT 8100 battery-assisted passive RFID tags to pipes, assemblies and other instruments that will be part of the refinery construction. Kevin Payne, Intelleflex's senior director of marketing, expects hundreds of thousands of tags will be deployed during the refinery's construction.
The site measures 1 kilometer by 2 kilometers (0.6 mile to 1.2 miles). Approximately 240 Intelleflex FMR-6000 fixed readers, installed within explosion-proof enclosures, would need to be installed on metal poles, so that the reader would cover an area measuring 100 meters by 100 meters (328 feet by 328 feet).
As an item arrives at the construction site, readers in the vicinity would awaken the tag, causing it to transmit its ID number and other data. Eight pairs of antennas would be wired to each interrogator, in order to provide angle-of-arrival data regarding tag transmission. The construction site will be equipped with a Wi-Fi network, enabling the readers to send the information to the oil company's back-end system via a Wi-Fi connection. That data would be received by the Industrial Automation Group software, which would determine the tag's location to within about 5 meters (16.4 feet), and forward that information to the company's SAP system.
Industrial Automation Group has already tested the technology at an area on the site measuring 25 meters by 25 meters (82 feet by 82 feet), de Graaf says, where a single reader with eight antennas was installed. "More testing needs to be done," he notes, in order to ensure that tags can be interrogated as the items to which they are attached are moved around the site, along with multiple other objects that could obstruct transmissions. Specific details about the number of readers to be used for this testing, however, have yet to be finalized.
Ultimately, de Graaf says, once the system is in place, management would be able to log into the SAP system and watch construction underway, simply by knowing the location of the subassemblies and other materials, and by viewing them on a map of the site as icons linked to each tag's RFID number, as well as details about the item to which that tag is attached. If a specific asset could be located, staff members on site, or at the remote office, would be able to simply access the SAP system and identify that item's location to within 5 meters (16.4 feet).
By reducing the risk of losing equipment on the construction site, de Graaf says, the technology could pay for itself within a few days, by ensuring that work is never halted due to a missing item, and that no asset is unnecessarily replaced.
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