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CCC Expands RFID Pilot Projects

Consolidated Contractors Co., which is employing radio frequency identification to manage personnel using a combination of passive and active RFID badges, plans to launch new deployments to track pipe spools at industrial construction sites.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 13, 2013

Computers & Communication Technology (CCT), a Beirut-based developer of business process management (BPM), enterprise content management (ECM) and 3D-based project-control solutions, is overseeing a variety of pilot projects involving the use of passive and active RFID tags to manage construction sites operated by global construction firm Consolidated Contractors Co. (CCC).

Computers & Communication Technology, a subsidiary of CCC, provides integrated automatic data acquisition software using mobile technologies. The company is currently testing a combination of passive and active RFID tags in an application for managing the movement of CCC's personnel onto and off of its sites within the United Arab Emirates (UAE), while also monitoring the locations of pipe spools—fabricated sections of piping—at an oil and gas construction site in Qatar. In addition, CCC launched a pilot in Oman earlier this year that utilizes passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to track personnel, and it intends to track thousands of spools at a site in Siberia by this summer. CCT also provides RFID consultancy and systems integration services to other companies.

At each entrance gate to its construction site in Abu Dhabi, CCC installed two RFID readers—one for passive UHF tags attached to vehicles, the other for battery-powered 2.4 GHz tags worn by personnel.

Headquartered in Greece, CCC operates construction sites throughout the world. The company currently has approximately 22 projects underway, including new oil fields, airports, sewage systems and electrical grids. In 2004, the firm began seeking ways in which to increase efficiency, by automating the capture of data regarding the arrivals and departures of personnel onsite, as well as the locations of pipe spools and other materials received (and, in some cases, painted or sanded), and then used on a worksite.

In the UAE, CCC is employing passive EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tags attached to vehicles, in addition to proprietary active 2.4 GHz RFID tags embedded in personnel badges, in order to monitor who enters and exits CCC's construction site in Abu Dhabi, according to Khaled Al Shami, CCC's RFID deployments project manager and CCT's software development project manager. CCT began by testing passive UHF RFID tags on the badges of personnel passing through an entrance gate, then battery-assisted passive (BAP) tags and finally active tags to track the movements of individuals and goods at a series of sites. CCT, he says, has employed a variety of RFID hardware vendors for the CCC deployments, and continues to experiment. By tracking who comes and goes from the site, the firm is able to reduce the amount of time consumed at entry gates, as well as calculate payroll and ensure that everyone has been evacuated from the site in the event of an emergency. At this point in the project, however, the company is still testing technology to simply ensure that tags can be read as people come and go, and that CCC's software can store that data.

Every worker at the UAE site wears a badge containing an active RFID tag that transmits a unique ID number linked to that individual's identity in the back-end software. A total of 500 people are carrying the badges as they arrive and leave through a gate, in both cases riding in an enclosed vehicle. Although the company tested passive and BAP tags, it found that only active tags provided the read reliability required for an individual moving through a portal while in a truck or other vehicle. There are six gates in use—three at the construction site and three at the workers' camp—each about 15 meters (49 feet) wide. At every gate, CCC installed two RFID readers, powered by a solar panel and featuring 3G communication technology to transmit data to the back-end system. "There are no wires at all," Al Shami explains. Passive UHF EPC Gen 2 tags are also applied to the exterior of some vehicles, and the gate readers capture each vehicle tag's ID number, which is linked to information about that vehicle's operator.

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