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At Edmonton's Aggregate-Recycling Facilities, RFID Provides an Extra Eye

The system alerts drivers in the event that an accident may be imminent, based on data from tags worn by personnel walking in the area, as well as readers installed on trucks.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 20, 2012Workers at the aggregate-recycling facilities in Edmonton, Alberta, are wearing RFID-enabled vests and helmets that make it possible for heavy-equipment operators to be alerted about the presence of other personnel before an accident can occur. The solution, installed on six vehicles late last month, enables drivers to know when they may be in danger of backing into someone. The technology was provided by Scan-Link.

The city of Edmonton's aggregate-recycling facilities receive rubble material from construction sites, and create material used for road construction within the city. The facilities received 5,000 metric tons of material in 1978, when the program began, and have since processed 4.5 billion metric tons of asphalt and concrete, thereby saving the city $7 million to $9 million annually, by reducing its use of landfill and creating new material for road construction.

On the rear of its vehicles, Edmonton's aggregate-recycling program installed Scan-Link's RFID reader and integrated antenna array.

Edmonton operates two aggregate-recycling sites, says Blair Buchholtz, the program's general supervisor, who adds that the work itself can be dangerous. A combination of contract loaders and city-owned loaders and skid-steers move around each facility, while 10 to 50 tractor-trailers deliver material on a daily basis. "The primary risk on our site is from traffic," Buchholtz explains. Heavy equipment can provide a driver with limited visibility behind it while backing up. Therefore, the city has mounted a camera on the back of each vehicle, with a video monitor installed in its cab to afford the driver a rearward view. Operators do not always look at that screen, however, and might be glancing away at the moment that an individual steps into harm's way.

Scan-Link's RFID solution, known as Armour, consists of an integrated reader and antenna array installed at the back of the vehicle, as well as a display unit mounted in the cab. Workers are provided with RFID-enabled helmets or vests. If the reader detects an RFID tag within the vicinity, it transmits that information to the display unit, which then emits an audible sound and flashes a row of red lights.

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