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Stainless Steel NFC Tag Tracks Safety Device Maintenance

Process Systems Engineering released a new NFC-enabled product this year that is helping its customers track the maintenance and inspections of safety equipment in industrial, oil and gas, and chemical environments, to ensure that every item is maintained and tested.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 06, 2016

Engineering company Process Systems Engineering (PSE) is marketing a Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID label it developed this year that will identify safety-instrumented system devices at industrial locations, as well as track each device's maintenance and calibration history. The tags, in addition to the devices to which they are attached, are being installed under some of the most hazardous industrial conditions—at oil and gas companies, petrochemical refineries and chemical manufacturing sites. By using RFID labels, businesses can automate the collection of each safety device's maintenance history, as well as ensure that all devices are being maintained, and that none end up missing.

PSE is a full-service engineering consulting firm that specializes in process control, industrial automation, process safety and safety instrumentation. Its customers are in the chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and oil and gas industries, according to Richard Pranke, PSE's principal.

A TAG-TITE securely fastens a SIS-TAG to a maintenance device.
PSE's customers tend to have hazardous materials on their premises that must be closely monitored as they are stored, to prevent any incidents such as leakage of a gas or liquid. Therefore, the companies use safety-instrumented system devices connected to tanks or vessels that might, for instance, track pressure and display an alert in the event that the device detects a problem. On a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, the companies send maintenance workers or inspectors around their facilities to ensure the devices are working properly, by performing procedures such as stroking (opening and closing) the valve.

Maintenance workers manually record what they do on paper, since hazardous environments prevent companies from allowing any laptop or other computer device into the area. In that way, employees cannot simply input data into a laptop or standard tablet.

SIS-TAGs offer high visibility and RFID identification under extreme conditions.
For the past two years, PSE has been offering a bar-code label known as SIS-TAG, which is attached to safety devices via a tamper-evident, stainless steel fastener known as the TAG-TITE. "Our customers wanted the ability to track and maintain devices with the use of bar codes," Pranke says, to make identifying each device easier. In 2015, the firm was selling the SIS-TAG label to a petrochemical company that has asked to remain unnamed, and that requested an RFID-enabled version.

In general, Pranke says, chemical, oil and gas, and other industrial companies have been moving toward using RFID to manage their processing equipment maintenance histories. The PSE petrochemical customer is one of those companies that has already been attaching RFID tags to some of its equipment, and has equipped its maintenance personnel with intrinsically safe RFID handheld readers to capture tag data and update each item's history as they inspect or maintain it. Therefore, Pranke explains, the company approached PSE in 2015 seeking an RFID-enabled version of the SIS-TAG so that safety device testing could also be part of its RFID-enabled equipment-management system.

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