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Iron Mine Uses RFID to Locate and Control Equipment

Precyse Technologies' Smart Agent active tags enable the mining company to know where its generators, welding equipment and mobile lighting are located, as well as switch the lighting on and off.
By Claire Swedberg

The mobile light towers that the mine employs are similar to those set up for night road construction projects—only much larger—and they must be moved around the facility as projects change. In this case, the company needs to know where they are located so that they can be moved to the proper area each night. What's more, the firm needs to be able to turn those lights on when required. Therefore, each light's power generator has a wired connection to a Smart Agent tag, enabling it to receive instructions via RFID in order to turn the generator on or off.

The RFID system, which was taken live in August, is already helping the mine to reduce the labor hours employees spend searching for equipment. Moreover, it helps the company to prevent any delays in production that might result if a necessary tool or piece of equipment cannot be located when needed.

"The system has only just gone operational, but one of the first benefits identified was the ability to remotely turn off the diesel-powered lighting towers in areas of the mine with restricted access," Bassan says. "This will immediately improve safety (by not requiring personnel to access those areas), extend the period the lights can run without refueling, and also reduce unnecessary diesel usage."

According to Bassan, the mine has also experienced loss of rental equipment, and will now be fitting the Precyse tracking tags to future rental equipment as each asset arrives onsite. "This will allow them to pinpoint the exact location, provide warnings before the equipment leaves site, and help to avoid hefty penalty fees to the hire companies for missing equipment," he states.

In the future, the mining company plans to use the RFID tags not only to turn its lights on and off, but also to transmit other data, such as the fuel level for each of the lights' power generators, and to synchronize clocks in the lighting units. The firm is currently in discussions with CSC and Precyse to deploy a similar system at an adjacent mine.

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