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RFID Tracks the Shipment of Entire Gold-Processing Plant

The plant was disassembled in Australia, and its components were shipped to Argentina, where it was then reassembled—all with the help of active tags and readers.
By Dave Friedlos
Mar 09, 2010Freight and logistics firm Townley Group International has employed radio frequency identification to track the components of an entire gold-processing plant, as it was transported from Australia to Argentina. Troy Resources, a gold producer based in Perth, commissioned Townley Group to transfer the gold factory from its original location in Cobar, New South Wales, to a new site located near San Juan, Argentina.

The transfer, which took 18 weeks, included inventorying 1,000 parts (of which 790 were then loaded into 40-foot cargo containers) and transporting them by land to Newcastle, 676 kilometers (420 miles) to the east, where they were loaded onto a ship, followed by a journey by sea to Zarate, in Argentina, and by rail and truck through Argentina's Cordillera De Lipez mountain range, to the Casposo mining site, located approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of San Juan. The components left Australia in November 2009 and arrived at their new destination on Dec. 20, after traveling a total of 12,000 kilometers (7,456 miles).

Tagged containers were used to transport smaller components.
Peter Townley, Townley Group's managing director, says Wavetrend tags were attached to 40 cargo containers and 110 sections of mill that were too large to fit in a container. A total of 7,900 tonnes (8,690 short tons) of cargo were transported, with the largest piece, the mill shell, weighing 65 tonnes (70 short tons).

"This was critical, as there were so many parts to the plant," Townley says. "Cargo containers were tracked from loading to delivery on to the vessel, and the vessel was monitored throughout its journey. On arrival in Argentina, the cargo was again logged via the scanning system and dispatched to San Juan, some 1,200 kilometers [746 miles] away. This gave our client a clear view of the cargo in transit, and we trialed the technology, as we see it as the way of the future for all cargo shipments."

Townley adds, "There were many challenges, as the cargo was not your traditional cargo."

Warren Scott, Wavetrend's product marketing manager, says his company was approached in October 2009, with deployment expected the following month.

"Due to the short timescale involved, we offered Townley Group a solution that was largely ready for implementation, with all the required hardware at hand and the capability to address changes," Scott explains. "Some adjustments were required to accommodate Townley Group's specific data-capture and recording requirements, with design, implementation and testing completed in-house in early November. Final approval testing occurred the week prior to system deployment."

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