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Woodside Tests New Passive-Active RFID Tag

The Australian oil and gas company is trialing Omni-ID's Power 400 RFID tag, branded as the Woodside Smart Tag (or W-Tag), at its LNG operation site.
By Claire Swedberg

During the first quarter of this year, Woodside installed several RFID reading stations, including a variety of fixed, portable and handheld devices, to serve as real-time locations systems (RTLS), and to read tagged components at the North West Shelf Project's Karratha Gas Plant. The Karratha facility is undergoing continuous maintenance and refurbishment campaigns, Woodside reports, making it a suitable playground to test the new tool. The system allows local and global read-write functionality on the W-Tags' memory, so contractors can update status and direct traffic from anywhere in the world. The collected read data is being transmitted back to Woodside's server via a Wi-Fi connection, though Project Echo is investigating other methods of data transmission as well, such as fog computing.

Trials to date have included successful accuracy tests under both fixed and roving conditions, to determine the accuracy of RTLS technology in laydown yards.

The W-tag, a variant of Omni-ID's Power 400 RFID tag, is being attached to valves, spool pieces, equipment and vehicles. Each comes with a 433 MHz active tag, as well as an EPC Gen 2 passive UHF RFID inlay designed to transmit when interrogated throughout an asset's lifetime, says Kevin Cohen, the CEO of Ramp RFID Solutions, an Australian company involved in the W-tag's testing (see Woodside Unveils LNG Smart Tag). During the fabrication of materials, new tags are initiated and attached to a piece of equipment by means of plastic or metal ties. Users can capture or write data to the active tag using its long read range capability, since an interrogator can read an active tag at a distance of up to 400 meters (1,312 feet).

Once the equipment is moved into lifecycle maintenance, a short read range is necessary to conserve battery life. During that phase, the passive tag can be interrogated when the reader is near the tag.

The W-tag is suitable for rugged environments, with a molded inner case of a polycarbonate and molded cover composed of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE). It can sustain a 4-foot drop to concrete, Cohen says, as well as withstand vibration. The tag opens up unique possibilities, he reports, because of the IECEX intrinsically safe certification for hazardous areas, particularly for the oil, gas and LNG industry.

Subject to the trial's successful completion in Karratha, which is expected to occur sometime after July 2014, Woodside hopes to use RFID to improve productivity through more accurate and faster materials and asset maintenance, as well as by verifying lifting equipment certificates, managing quality inspections, tracking the movements of vehicles around a construction site, monitoring rented equipment and preventing safety incidents.

Woodside is a cornerstone sponsor of the world's first RFID for Energy, Mining and Construction conference and exhibition, being held in Perth on Aug. 12-13, 2014 (see RFID Journal to Hold Inaugural RFID Event in Australia Focused on Energy, Mining and Construction). At the event, Robert Edwardes, Woodside's executive VP of development, is scheduled to discuss the need to use RFID and other innovative technologies to boost productivity and improve efficiency in the oil and gas sector.

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