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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
When a truck is loaded with material at the mine, its driver hands a supervisor a plastic RFID card, which identifies that individual and his or her vehicle. Loaded onto the supervisor's NFC phone is the RFID application software that i-TEK developed specifically for this system, known as 4r Mines (which stands for "read, record, report, real-time"). The supervisor can navigate the software to pinpoint the "read truck card" command, and then hold the card up to the phone. The NFC module within the phone collects the card's tag ID, and the supervisor can then input his or her decision regarding whether the load contains material of an acceptable grade. If that supervisor deems it unacceptable, he or she can direct the driver to another area within the mine, where the load will then be rejected.

If the load passes inspection, the driver is directed to a weighbridge. In either case, the software transmits the data, which contains the truck's ID and destination, along with the date and time, to both the card's memory (via RFID) and to the main 4r Mines server (via GPRS), where it is stored in a database.

If the truck is sent to the weighbridge—located at the mine exit—the driver holds his or her RFID card up to a fixed reader positioned on the bridge (and within reach, so he or she need not leave the vehicle). The reader collects the tag data, as well as the truck's weight; transmits that information to the i-TEK server, via GPRS; and writes the weight to the tag's memory.

Once the truck reaches the processing plant, the driver again enters a weighbridge and repeats the process of holding his or her RFID card up to a fixed-position reader, which weighs the load and transmits that data to the server, as well as to the tag's memory. The driver is then either directed to a barge, where the cargo is unloaded and exported, or into the plant.

If the vehicle is directed into the plant, another supervisor determines whether the load should be stockpiled or processed, depending on the factory's needs. The supervisor can use the Nokia phone to read the driver's card, and to input his or her decision into the i-TEK software, which again transmits this data to the tag's memory and to the server, via GPRS. If the load is to be processed, the driver brings the truck to yet another weighbridge, where he or she again presents the card to a reader, and the data is collected and transmitted.

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