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Pantex Nuclear Weapons Plant Adopts RuBee RFID to Track Tools, Chemicals

The plant is also using the technology for tracking weapons in its armory, while beginning to install it at its health-care center.
By Claire Swedberg
Pantex has already been using Visible Assets' RuBee weapons tracking system in all its armories for "many months," Steven says. The exact number of armories and weapons within those armories cannot be named, says Stevens. Although Stevens declined to describe the specific deployment at Pantex, he says that the system installed there is similar to the installations Visible Assets provides in multiple other locations, including those run by the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and special forces in the Middle East. Visible Assets provides a three-layer approach to protecting weapons as well as assets for armories, using reader portals in doorways and a weapon rack reader system. One layer is managing the storage of weapons, the second layer manages the hand-off of a weapon to an officer, and the third oversees the movement of weapons and people through the exit.

For the racks, Visible Assets has partnered with Canadian weapons storage racks maker DDS to embed readers in the racks on which weapons are typically stored. The readers receive transmission from the active tags on the weapons that are stored in the racks. As readers captured the unique ID being transmitted by the tag, that identifier is sent to the Visible Assets Armory 20/20 software running on back-end system via a cabled connection. If the weapon is removed from the rack, the reader ceases to receive transmission from that tag and a status update is sent to the Visible Assets 20/20 software, which determines that the weapon has been removed from the shelf. The weapon is then handed to the appropriate officer at the armory counter, where a reader is also installed. The reader captures the unique identifier of the officer's Visible Assets badge as well as on the weapons tag and the data is linked together in the software. When the officer then walks through the armory exit, a RuBee portal captures the unique ID of the weapon tag as well as the ID of the individual’s badge, again, indicating the weapon has been removed. In this way he does not need to fill out forms to check the weapon out of the armory.

Pantex is also in the process of installing the system at its medical center, where officers are treated for any health-related concerns as well as examined periodically to ensure their good physical condition. RuBee readers will be installed in multiple locations within the facility, and tags will be carried by staff, as well as attached to some medical equipment for asset management. The badges worn by officers can be read by readers installed in the medical center to create a history of when he arrived and left the facility, as well as send an alert, if necessary, to authorized personnel if the officer leaves prematurely.

Visible Assets licenses its technology to about half a dozen companies so that they can make tags or RuBee products. These companies, Stevens says, include National Oilwell Varco, Seiko Epson, Laser Devices Inc., SMi Group, Dasco Data, Husky Plastics, Remington and Sig Sauer (see Gunning for Change). Visible Assets supplies tag chips to many of these company, Stevens says, and the company is in discussions with many others, including tag production facilities.

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