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Malaysian Oil Rig Deploys RFID for Man-Down Monitoring

Axcess International developed the system, which features personnel badges containing active RFID tags and motion sensors to detect if a worker stops moving.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 28, 2010An oil company that asked to remain unnamed has begun installing an RFID-based "Man-Down" monitoring and locating system on an oil-drilling platform in Malaysia. The firm plans to soon begin providing badges to its dozens of high-risk workers for each shift on the platform, to track when they become inactive, possibly indicating injury. Axcess International Inc. developed the system specifically for this customer, based on its own existing DotWireless technology, but is now offering it to other oil companies, as well as those in other industries, such as mining, says Axcess' CEO, Allan Griebenow.

Axcess International offers wireless credential solutions to oil companies and other customers, and provides badges that employees can wear, as well as interrogators and software to interpret data from those badges, thereby allowing management to better track workers' locations as they come and go during their shifts. Users can install portal readers, or use handheld interrogators, at such locations as mustering areas, in the event of a drill or emergency. In that way, companies can track when staff members arrive, where they are working, and when they report to a mustering area. In 2009, one of Axcess' customers—the oil company with a platform in Malaysia—requested a better solution to track the status of its workers in high-risk jobs, thus allowing it to receive an automatic alert if an individual seems to have been injured.

Axcess' MicroWireless Credential contains an active 433 MHz RFID tag and a motion sensor.

The solution is what Axcess International calls the "Man-Down Monitoring and Locating" system, which combines a motion sensor with an active RFID tag to create a "MicroWireless Credential." The security badge, which can clamp onto an item of clothing, stores a unique ID number linked to a staff member's name, job title and other related data in a back-end software system provided by Axcess International. The tag can transmit at either 315 MHz or 433 MHz, and uses a proprietary air-interface protocol. To conserve battery power, Griebenow says, the badge remains dormant until it is activated by a 132 kHz signal from an exciter.

Griebenow declines to explain exactly how the oil company is using the system, but there are several options available. The software can instruct a tag to begin transmitting when a worker logs into the system, indicating he has arrived for his shift. It would then instruct the tag to go dormant when that person signs out at the end of that work period. A time clock could be input into the software, indicating when each staff member is working, and the tag could be activated at that time by an exciter installed at the employee's work area. In another scenario, an exciter deployed at the entrance to a section of the platform, for example, could activate the tag of person as he reports to work, and the tag would then transmit until the end of the shift, when that individual again passes the exciter, which instructs the tag to cease transmitting.

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