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Ultra-Wideband RFID Tracks Nuclear Power Plant Workers

Radiation measurements, combined with real-time location information, enable managers to track workers and assess safety based on radiation exposure.
By Jill Gambon
Mar 08, 2007Ubisense, a supplier of ultra-wideband (UWB) real-time location systems (RTLS) in Cambridge, England, has partnered with BIL Solutions to provide location information and radiation detection for nuclear power plant workers.

Based in Warrington, England, BIL Solutions offers monitoring, measurement and detection technology and services to the defense, nuclear power and other industries. The company is using Ubisense's tags in conjunction with Automess radiation dosimeters to provide real-time location information regarding employees involved in decommissioning and clean-up efforts at the Sellafield nuclear power facility, one of 20 aging U.K. nuclear facilities being decommissioned. Located in Cumbria, on the northwest coast of England, Sellafield is home to one of the world's oldest commercial nuclear power plants. Cleanup of contaminated materials is also underway at Sellafield, due to a nuclear waste leak discovered in 2005.


The power plant is using Ubisense Ubitags (left) and Automess Automess radiation dosimeters (right) in its clean-up efforts.
Employees carrying out work assignments at the power plant wear both Ubisense active tags (Ubitags) and Automess 6150 AD dosimeters, which measure radiation exposure. The radiation measurements, combined with the real-time location information, enable managers to track workers and assess their safety based on radiation exposure. Managers overseeing nuclear clean-up and decommissioning work can use the location and radiation detection information to plan work assignments, says Ubisense CEO Richard Green. If the data shows high levels of radiation in one particular area, Green notes, workers can be instructed to move to another area with lower radiation levels.

Ubisense's software provides three-dimensional views of the facility, with radiation levels depicted in different colors. Ubisense's standard platform application programming interfaces (APIs), designed to allow integration of third-party data, combine location data from the tags with the radiation readings. Workers' dose histories are created and archived to maintain a record of radiation exposure.

BIL Solutions and Ubisense began working together a little more than a year ago, taking the Sellafield project live in December 2006. This is the first time Ubisense's products have been used in a nuclear power plant, and BIL Solutions hopes to use it at other nuclear sites as well, according to Karl Hughes, a technical specialist with the company.

BIL Solutions chose Ubisense's technology, Hughes explains, because there were no competing products offering comparable features. He says his company wanted a location system with "real-time capability that did not require perfect line of sight, but that could offer a 3-D spatial accuracy approaching 15 cm in each dimension."

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