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Westar Energy Tracks Power Poles, Transformers With RFID
The Kansas utility company uses the technology to automatically identify when each pole and transformer is removed from storage yards, by whom, and when unused items are returned.
Aug 21, 2015—
For utility companies, the management of assets like wooden poles, transformers and wire is complex and labor-intensive. The movement of these large, high-value items can take place at all hours, often involving multiple employees and contractors. During storms and resulting clean-up work, the tracking of inventory can become even more challenging, but it's also more important, since knowing how many of the items are on hand is critical to restoring power.
Westar Energy, in Kansas, has adopted an automated system that employs radio frequency identification technology to track its pole and transformer inventory. The company's suppliers attach passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to all poles and transformers that they ship to three storage yards, where RFID readers are installed at the gates. Contractors' and Westar's vehicles that come and go from the yards have passive EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tags attached to them as well, so that Westar Energy knows who takes which pole or transformer, when this occurs and when any items are returned. This data, along with daily inventory counts conducted by means of a handheld reader in each yard, ensures that the firm knows what assets it has on hand at any given time, as well as when reordering is necessary. It also saves labor time that workers previously spent manually counting assets within each yard, or making phone calls trying to locate specific items.American RFID Solutions.
At any time of the day or night, workers may have to collect poles or transformers for repair work on power lines. Prior to the RFID system's installation, Westar's only process for tracking these assets was to have workers fill out a form as they left the yard, indicating who they were and what they took. If they returned something that wasn't used, they had to fill out another form.
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