Is radio frequency identification a technology that would be useful to the cement industry?
Very useful. The process of registering drivers arriving to pick up cement loads for large construction projects is usually accomplished manually, with clipboards, paper and pencil, which can be labor-intensive and prone to mistakes. A cement factory in southern Turkey has deployed an RFID-based system to speed the weighing and loading of hundreds of trucks per day (see Cimko Cement Plant Loads Up on RFID.)
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) pioneered a system for tracking concrete poured for new or repaired roads. Concrete typically hardens fully within 28 hours, but depending on the temperature and volume of the concrete being poured, it can cure much faster than that. By determining the poured concrete's maturity as quickly as possible, construction crews can shave hours of waiting time off each day's workload, thus enabling them to complete projects days, or even weeks, ahead of schedule. Since curing concrete gives off heat as it cures, a temperature sensor that can be read remotely is an ideal solution (see RFID Cures Concrete).
Cement companies can employ RFID to track both raw materials and finished products. Phoenix Precast is utilizing the technology to track precast concrete tructures. The system has enabled it to gain certification from the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA), which means it can now supply projects that require such certification from precast concrete manufacturers (see Precast Concrete Manufacturers Use RFID).
RFID can also play a role in ensuring the integrity of concrete structures. A Singapore company known as BuildNow developed a system back in 2002 that enabled inspectors to track sample cubes of concrete that are taken from loads and tested to ensure they meet strength requirements (see Tracking Concrete Cubes for QA).
And Japan's Oki Electric Industry Co. and Taiheiyo Cement Corp. developed the Strain Sensing System, which includes sensor-integrated steel—basically, standard commercial-grade steel with sensors attached—that can be embedded within concrete. The system enables inspectors to better determine a structure's integrity (see If Bridges Could Talk).
There are, no doubt, other uses of RFID to manage workflows as well, whether at a manufacturing plant or on a job site.
—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal
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