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Italian Construction Firm Deploys RFID to Track Offshore Equipment
Saipem attaches Omni-ID EPC Gen 2 passive tags to cranes, drilling rigs and thousands of other items, to improve safety and reduce wastage and delays.
Mar 02, 2010—Saipem, an Italian engineering and construction company for subsea oil and gas production, has been tracking its large equipment on production sites. The system went live in November 2009, with the intention of tracking 20,000 items, including offshore vessels (used to access oil drilling site), as well as cranes, drilling rigs, steel pipe, slings, shackles and buoys. Approximately 1,000 items have been tagged to date.
Saipem expects the RFID system to reduce the practice of acquiring excess inventory due to items ending up missing. The company also expects the system will decrease the amount of waste it generates. Without an RFID-based tracking system, assets often had to be scrapped, because it was impossible to trace how old they were, or when they had been inspected and certified. "In addition," says Gianni Franzoni, Saipem's operation department logistics coordinator, "the system will provide employees with easy access to what material is on hand, and reduce errors" related to misunderstandings regarding which equipment is actually delivered to a drill site.
Saipem uses these assets at offshore sites around the world, in a harsh environment that contains saltwater and experiences vast temperature fluctuations. Such equipment was typically tracked manually, via pen and paper, and required phone calls to learn what had arrived or been shipped, as well as scrambling onto piles of pipes and other equipment to ascertain serial numbers. If a piece of equipment was missing, Franzoni says, the drilling operations could be delayed.
Saipem began seeking a solution to reduce labor hours spent searching for missing items, as well as to decrease the incidence of delays caused by equipment not arriving at the correct location at the proper time, or going missing entirely. The other challenge Saipem wanted to address was safety. The company wanted to find a system that would eliminate the need for field operators to climb onto equipment in order to visually locate a serial number on an item, which they would then have to manually record.
The firm chose an RFID solution that would enable its management to know the location of equipment on offshore sites throughout the world, as well as allow employees to safely identify equipment. The solution, installed by Milan systems integrator ACM-e, includes passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 tags provided by Omni-ID, which can be read from a distance of 8 meters (26 feet) or more. The tags needed to be tough, so that they could not only be read in the presence of steel and water, but also withstand temperatures ranging from -60 degrees to +50 degrees Celsius (-76 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit). Therefore, the tags were enclosed in an impact- and crush-resistant proprietary material specifically chosen for this application, says Chris Hood, Omni-ID's channel sales manager.
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