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Honeywell's Safety Products Division Helps Automate Inspections, Equipment Tracking

The company's Enabled Safety Products solution uses EPC Gen 2 RFID readers and tags to track the assignment and servicing of equipment at worksites.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 20, 2012Customers of Honeywell Safety Products, a division of consumer products company Honeywell are field-testing the firm's new RFID-enabled safety gear tracking and management solution, known as Enabled Safety Products (ESP). The system is designed to enhance safety for equipment users, by enabling them to collect and store every item's inspections records, as well as details regarding where and how each piece of equipment is being used, and by whom. By reading passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags attached to equipment, a user can know, for example, at which site that equipment is located, as well as its condition and the employee assigned to it.

By utilizing the ESP system, a safety equipment user—such as a construction, oil and gas, or utility company—can maintain an electronic record of the history of its equipment, and thereby improve safety by ensuring that no asset misses inspection or is assigned to the wrong individual, says John Roth, Honeywell Safety Products' senior product marketing manager. "It provides a safer work environment."

Honeywell is now attaching tags to many of the safety products that it manufactures, including fall-protection equipment and eyewash cartridges. Users can also track their older Honeywell products, or those produced by other manufacturers, Roth says, by simply attaching an RFID tag and then entering that tag's unique ID number into a secure, centralized, Web-based hosted database.

Most businesses that use safety equipment, such as construction or utility companies, generally document their equipment, and its inspections, on paper, and manually input those records into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The ESP system, however, is designed to automate that process, by storing data linked to a unique ID number on an item's tag.

When Honeywell Safety Products manufactures an item to be tagged, such as a safety harness, the tag is attached at the point of manufacture. At its factory, its staff can then interrogate the tag using an RFID reader, linking the ID number to the product's date of manufacture, serial number and description. Enabled Safety Products can then allow the customer to use that information to manage the product's lifecycle. In this way, not only can a customer better manage equipment safety on a work site, but in the event of an audit, that user can then show an electronic record of the equipment's manufacturing and inspection histories.

Once a company purchases the product—which typically occurs through a distributor—that customer can opt to enroll in the ESP system for an annual fee, based on the number of items to be tracked. To enroll, a user would visit the ESP Web site, select the login prompt and set up an account. The customer would employ a handheld mobile reader, or a tethered reader that can be supplied by Honeywell—the make and model would vary—as well as a PC or a laptop, in order to read the tag's unique ID and press the "register" prompt. Honeywell Safety Products has designed the enrollment process so that it can be completed within five minutes, the company reports. Because Honeywell Safety Products commissioned the tag at the point of a product's manufacture, the user will automatically see the item's history, such as its manufacturing date and description, on that user's Web-based account, or on a Wi-Fi- or cellular-enabled handheld reader, upon reading the tag.

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