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Malaysian Oil Rig Deploys RFID for Man-Down Monitoring

Axcess International developed the system, which features personnel badges containing active RFID tags and motion sensors to detect if a worker stops moving.
By Claire Swedberg
While on the job site, the tag would beacon at regular intervals. The tag also receives information from the motion sensor, and determines whether that data should be filtered out if, for instance, the sensor's data does not fall within parameters established to indicate a man is down. If the sensor data meets the criteria for a man-down alert, the tag sends that information with its transmission. Readers deployed around the platform receive the tag's transmission, including the ID number and any data from the motion sensor, and forward that information to the back-end software via a cabled connection.

That software then translates the raw tag data into the worker's identity and status, and also determines the badge's general location, based on the reader's location and the tag signal strength, as well as whether the employee's status requires a response. The software can be programmed to issue an alert, for example, if the badge has remained motionless for a specified amount of time, such as five minutes. That alert can then be sent to company management via e-mail or text message.

Axcess International software also stores information for business reports, Griebenow says. For example, if an accident report is filed, the tag's motion data can be accessed and printed to accompany that report. Axcess' DotWireless system can be used in other ways as well, he notes, such as on assets. The tags can be programmed to detect either a lack of motion, as in the case described previously, or the presence of motion, such as the movement of a tag attached to an item that should not typically be moved. In addition, the tag can be provided with other sensors—such as temperature sensors and, in the future, shock sensors—which could help management determine how bad a fall was, based on the amount of impact.

"The system runs in the background," Griebenow says. "There's no labor required." What's more, it is designed not to require any effort on the part of badge-wearing staff members or management. "It's an exception-based system," he says, explaining that it remains in the background until detecting a problem. The system can be programmed to match the type of work being performed, so that those with very active and high-risk work, for instance, could have the system issue an alert if personnel remained motionless for a very short span of time.

The oil company adopting the system will soon provide the tags to employees, Griebenow says, and if all goes well, the firm intends to expand the system to additional oil platforms. In the meantime, he says, Axcess International has been speaking with some of its other oil-drilling clients about installing the man-down system on their offshore platforms. The system would also work well in mines, he indicates.

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