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Bechtel Tracks Man-Hours at Copper Mine
The company's timekeepers will employ EPC Gen 2 RFID readers to capture the identities of construction workers, and to clock their hours at a Chilean mining site run by Anglo American.
Jul 21, 2008—Construction company Bechtel is initiating an RFID system designed by RFID Chile to track contracted workers as they construct a new mine at Los Bronces, in the Andes Mountains. Once fully deployed, in September of this year, the RFID system will enable the company to track thousands of workers as they clear the site and then build the copper mine, owned by Anglo American. That, says Jaime Ramirez, Bechtel's information sciences and technology (IS&T) field manager for the Los Bronces project, will allow his company to track thousands of man-hours on the site in less time, with fewer errors.
Bechtel tracks workers not only at Los Bronces, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of Santiago, but also at the Las Tortolas ore-processing plant, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Los Bronces. At present, the sites have a total of 500 construction workers, supplied by a variety of independent contracting companies. Los Bronces is where most of the construction work is currently underway. Once winter passes in Chile, around September, Bechtel plans to fully deploy an RFID system that will track approximately 6,000 workers at Los Bronces on a daily basis for the entire three-year project.
While contractors punch in at time clocks upon arriving at and leaving the site, it is the records kept by timekeepers that list which crew, foremen and supervisors are located on the site, and where they are working. At the office at the end of the day, those handwritten names, locations and hours are input into the back-end ERP system by the office staff. The names are often difficult to decipher, mistakes can be made in the process of transposing them, and there is a delay between when the names are written on the job site and when they are input into the computer system.
The company had considered using a bar-code solution, since contracted workers already wear an ID badge on site that includes a bar code and is used to purchase food in the Anglo American cafeteria. But such a solution would require the timekeeper to maintain a clear a line of sight with the badge's bar-coded number, and the construction worker would typically have to stop his work and hand the badge to the timekeeper for scanning. In addition, the bar codes often become dirty or faded.
With the system designed by RFID Chile, the company claims, the timekeeper's job is made easier. As a matter of fact, Bechtel hopes its timekeepers will be able to sweep through the construction site twice daily to track man-hours, both in the morning and in the afternoon, using Motorola handheld RFID interrogators.
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