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Chinese Nuclear Plant Tracks Workers With RFID
The UHF RFID system, from Sun International, allows the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant to confirm that all workers have left an area during an emergency, or identify any who still remain, as well as know if someone enters an unauthorized area.
Nov 23, 2015—
The Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, part of the China National Nuclear Corp. , has deployed a system that employs passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags and readers to identify the locations of thousands of workers, according to zone, as well as help locate individuals in the event of an emergency and prevent anyone from entering unauthorized areas. Since installing the solution last year, the company has also been able to use it to verify workers' hours, according to Sun International, the system's provider.
Qinshan, located approximately 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) southwest of Shanghai, is one of the largest nuclear power plants in the world, with nine reactors spread across a 10-square-kilometer (3.9-square-mile) area. On a typical day, about 7,000 workers and contractors are onsite at any given time.National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), require that nuclear facilities be able to monitor the locations of individuals at their site during an evacuation. This typically has been accomplished using a manual paper-and-pen process. Hundreds of workers serve as emergency managers, each assigned to oversee a particular assembly point. At each assembly point, area workers gather to be accounted for and escorted off the premises aboard buses. The emergency manager writes down each individual's name, or checks it off a list. This process is slow, however, and vulnerable to errors since it doesn't list anyone who might have come onsite that day but failed to report to the assembly point.
Sun International, a Georgia-based company with offices in Washington, D.C., and Wuxi, China, was founded 20 years ago to provide telecommunications-related software, but in 2009 it introduced radio frequency identification technology to its solutions. The firm was especially focused on smart nuclear power plant solutions, says Yaojun Sun, Sun International's founder and CEO.
The company researched and developed the solution for several years in-house, before conducting some testing at the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant in mid-2013. The site has four separate power plants, and the system was permanently deployed at one of those locations in October 2014, and has since been expanded to all four plants.
Every plant contains four to five zones, each measuring up to 1 square kilometer (0.39 mile) in size. For the initial deployment within the first plant, Sun International installed 30 Impinj R420 readers at key locations, such as zone entrances and emergency areas, as well as 100 antennas to ensure that tag ID numbers were captured.
In designing the system, Sun International knew that if workers were issued RFID badges made with passive UHF tags, reading those tags would pose several challenges: For example, large numbers of people could pass a reader simultaneously, and each person's tag would need to be interrogated, even if the RF transmission was obstructed by other individuals. In addition, Qinshan needed to read the tags of those not only on foot but in vehicles, since staff members are escorted off the premises in buses during an evacuation. Therefore, Sun International needed the system to be able to read tags inside a moving vehicle.
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