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V. M. Salgaocar & Bro. Mines Automation From NFC-based Process

The Indian mining company has deployed a Near-Field Communication system to simplify the tracking of trucks from its iron mines to weigh stations, and through its processing plant.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jun 29, 2011V. M. Salgaocar & Bro., an Indian mining firm that sells iron ore to some of the world's largest steel mills, has deployed a Near-Field Communication (NFC) solution designed to simplify the tracking of trucks from the company's iron mines to various weigh stations, as well as through the firm's processing plant.

In 2009, V. M. Salgaocar parterned with Infotek Software & Systems (i-TEK) to develop and implement the system. The solution, which has been deployed to date at three iron mines in Goa, India, eliminates the need for manual, paper-based documentation, the company reports.


The supervisor's NFC phone contains RFID application software known as 4r Mines.
"A lot of discussions and brainstorming happened during the technology-selection process," says Ashim Patil, i-TEK's CEO. "The major decision to be taken was between short-range and long-range RFID. Long-range has its own benefits, where the truck gets identified over a few meters, and it apparently would result in faster throughput."

But the team was concerned that the trucks and other metallic materials within the vicinity might interfere with the RF transmission between passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags and readers. Moreover, Patil says, high-memory tags were deemed important, since the company wanted to write each truck's identification number, tare weight, gross weight, ore type and route information to the tag, along with a time stamp showing when that tag was interrogated.

Ultimately, i-TEK developed a solution based on the ISO 14443-A standard, using high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags and readers, as well as Nokia 6212 cell phones containing NFC modules. NFC, an RFID communication protocol based on the ISO 14443 standard, was developed for use in mobile devices, such as cell phones.

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