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DPR Construction Uses RFID Building-Security Solution

The system, provided by Trimble and ThingMagic, enables the general contractor to automate safety and access management during construction at the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 27, 2013By employing an RFID-based solution, general contractor DPR Construction has found a new way to manage building safety and access at the construction site for the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center at Mission Bay. The solution, provided by Trimble's ThingMagic division, enables the general contractor to ensure that all individuals are safely evacuated during an emergency, prevent site access by unauthorized personnel, and control access to clean or completed spaces on the project. DPR is using ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID readers and ID cards, as well as and Trimble’s cloud-based server integrated with BIM software to better manage security-sensitive work areas, workforce logistics and project planning.

Many commercial construction projects require that hundreds of workers be onsite from a variety of contracting and subcontracting companies, making it difficult to identify which employees have entered or exited at any given time. For DPR, safety issues related to confusion about onsite personnel are of paramount concern. For instance, if staff members need to be evacuated in a hurry, it is not always possible to know how many workers are onsite.

To enter the construction site, workers must first pass through RFID-enabled turnstiles.

In August 2012, DPR installed the Trimble-ThingMagic solution at the UCSF construction project, where as many as a thousand workers enter and exit the 900,000-square-foot site daily, says Osman Chao, DPR Construction's project executive. Some are authorized to enter only certain zones, based on their safety training. A majority of those onsite are not DPR employees, but rather electricians; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) specialists; plumbers; and other workers employed by subcontractors.

When construction on a new building commences, Chao explains, the management of worker egress is not as imperative, or sometimes even possible, since work is performed within an open area without walls. Once the shell is completed and employees begin working inside the building, however, that changes. Some workers have specific protocol training to ensure that they do nothing that could, for example, contaminate the area for future inhabitants (medical personnel and patients), such as bringing food onsite. Other individuals, however, should not be in those restricted "clean room" areas. The system is not meant to track worker’s exact locations and does not have the ability to do so, says Chao. Rather, it is designed to automate data collection for operational improvements and to reduce costs where possible.

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