May 05, 2014Last week, we announced that RFID Journal will host its first RFID in Energy, Mining and Construction conference and exhibition in Perth, Australia, on Aug. 12-13 (see RFID Journal to Hold Inaugural RFID Event in Australia Focused on Energy, Mining and Construction). The event will be co-located with the 4th LCI Australia Lean Construction Conference. The goal is to educate companies in these sectors about the benefits that radio frequency identification can deliver—and the benefits are substantial.
The sheer size and magnitude of many energy, mining and construction projects brings with them enormous complexity. BP is constructing a giant oil platform in South Korea, which will be used in the North Sea (see RFID, GPS Bring Visibility to Construction of BP Oil Platform). Parts are being manufactured worldwide and shipped to Korea for final assembly. The parts are being RFID-tagged so BP has visibility into their location, and so that timing can be coordinated to ensure maximum efficiency during the construction project.
This year's RFID Journal Award co-winner for Best RFID Implementation was Bechtel, which is using 60,000 active RFID tags to manage the construction of three large liquid natural gas facilities on an island off the coast of Western Australia (see RFID Journal Announces Winners of Its Eighth Annual Awards). Managing this megaproject without RFID would be extraordinarily difficult, due to the volume of materials that must be tracked to ensure they reach the correct site at the proper time.
The event will present case studies of upstream, midstream and downstream applications in construction, energy and mining. Many companies are currently benefiting from RFID, so attendees will gain insights into how and where the technology can deliver value to their operations today.
I am a firm believer that RFID can transform these complex operations and deliver incredible value. But it won't happen unless the businesses in these sectors agree on how to use RFID across the industry. If tags are placed on parts when an oilrig is constructed and the rig's operator cannot use the same tags, then the full value of the investment in RFID is not being realized.
Manufacturers of oil pipes and other components will not place tags in their products while making them if some companies want to use high-frequency (HF) tags to track pipes while others want to use ultrahigh-frequency (UHF). No one type of RFID system—passive or active—will work for all applications. But the industry must agree on how to use RFID for different applications, so that it does not end up with a hodgepodge of technologies that deliver a fraction of the benefits they could offer.
BP, Petrobras, Shell, Total and Woodside realized this and, in May 2013, came together to form the Global RFID Committee for Oil & Gas. The committee's mission is to promote the standardization of RFID and other automatic identification and data-capture (AIDC) technologies within the oil and gas sector (see Energy Industry Leaders Promote RFID Adoption).
The group plans to hold a standards workshop on Aug. 14, immediately following our event. The aim is to set up subcommittees to begin working toward a standardized way of implementing RFID across the energy sector. The group held a pre-meeting at our RFID Journal LIVE! 2014 conference and exhibition, on Apr. 9, to solicit input from energy companies and solution providers. This input will help guide the efforts of the working groups that will be set up in Perth.
RFID can be used internally to benefit any large company with many assets to track and manage. But the benefits expand dramatically when entire industries use the same technologies, because that drives down costs and allows supply chain partners to use the same tags for internal benefits. If you work in energy, mining or construction, I hope you will join us for the conference and exhibition in Australia, and participate in the standards workshop.
Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.