Word War II Technology Boosts Industrial Safety Today
February 21, 2020
Safety doesn’t come by accident. More than a century of technological development and dedication to innovation and science laid the foundation of OHS today. Businesses can now automate maintenance and inspection, reduce the errors caused by paper-based systems, drive higher operation performances, and simplify and safeguard safety practices.
Connected software solutions play a key role in streamlining the collection of business-critical data. They integrate plant, edge devices, and personnel information, to offer unprecedented control and visibility.
At the core of connectivity lies RFID technology.
What is RFID?
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses radio waves to tag and track any item equipped with a wireless antenna. After the tag is scanned, the reader automatically receives information about the item by comparing its ID with data stored in a database.
Compared to bar code labeling, RFID technology offers several benefits, such as remote scannability. Thus, workers can scan items even if they don’t have access to an item’s bar code label or are not in the object’s proximity. A fixed RFID reader doesn’t involve the workers at all. Articles are automatically scanned when entering or leaving locations when they pass through portals equipped with a fixed reader. Think about office buildings that scan employee badges at the entrance.
How does RFID work?
The three critical components of an RFID system are:
1. An RFID tag (smart label).
2. An RFID reader.
3. An antenna.
An RFID tag or smart label has an integrated circuit and an antenna that will send data to the RFID reader (interrogator). The reader converts the radio waves and transfers it through an interface to a host computer system, where the data can be stored in and analyzed whenever needed.
Although RFID technology has been in use since World War II, RFID equipment is currently being introduced in the industrial environment and the demand is increasing rapidly. Applications that presently use barcode technology are good candidates for upgrading to a system that uses RFID. Especially since RFID tag can hold much more data about an item than a barcode. Moreover, RFID tags are not susceptible to ripping and smearing damages, like bare code labels.
RFID and asset management
RFID tracking is an excellent method for enterprise asset management. It helps track expensive equipment and prevent theft, automatically monitoring any asset as it enters or leaves the building. The person managing it will receive automatic alerts and emails whenever a tagged item is taken away from the facility or moved to an unauthorized area. Thus, it will save hours wasted on searching for things, also minimizing costs related to buying duplicate equipment. Additionally, with RFID technology, assets can be moved and used by several teams.
It also helps maintain and track fleets of devices, so they’re always up to date and ready to protect workers and assets. RFID technology reduces the burden of administration, eliminates IT headaches, and simplifies compliance with technology that ensures data is encrypted and privacy threats reduced.
Connecting workers to safety
RFID tags are also widely used to track the movements of workers in hazardous areas, offering the possibility to check their location in case of an emergency. RFID tags can be attached to personal protective equipment (PPE), and, as workers pass through portals equipped with RFID readers, their location and activity will be automatically tracked in a secure database.
RFID tags can also be used to enforce restrictions and to monitor movement is restricted or hazardous areas. These wearable devices can make the difference between life and death in the event of an emergency, as they supply the latest RFID tracking data to check the current location of all your workers, instantly allowing you to account for all personnel, enabling safe evacuations.
RFID and industrial applications
RFID applications are available for a wide variety of industries, supporting businesses to reduce expenses by protecting enterprise assets and saving lives.
RFID is used in different ways in the healthcare industry, mostly for applications involving tracking staff and patients, identifying problems in workflow and moving patients in and out quicker and more efficiently. Moreover, RFID tags embedded in devices for replacement surgeries, such as those involving hips and knees, can reduce the potential for infection. Wrist bracelets utilizing RFID tags connect newborn infants with their parents. The technology also prevents patients from coming into contact with someone who is contagiously ill.
Construction companies fully benefit from RFID technology advantages, too. On large construction sites, tools and equipment often get lost. RFID technology enables workers to know where assets are located at any time, thereby reducing the expenses of having to buy or rent new tools. RFID is also used for the management of material. and This helps prevent shortages, delays in supplies, damage, and wastage of materials, or lack of storage space.
RFID technology is used in the oil and gas industry in various ways. RFID tracking for tools, materials, and workers is already a common practice among big companies is also used for tracking hazardous materials such as drill pipes, assets, and tools, thus improving safety.
RFID technology offers real-time alerts in the event of abnormal conditions. Tracking barrels containing sensitive nuclear materials within storage facilities, for instance. Tracking mooring, surface, and subsea assets is easier, too. Monitoring drill pipes shipped to offshore oil rigs using RFID technology ensures that the correct tubes are being provided, inspected and maintained.
Simplifying safety management tasks
Honeywell connects existing inventory of PPE – such as hard hats, fall protection gear, gloves, ladders, and fire extinguishers – using cloud-based software (Safety Suite) and ultrahigh RFID tags.
The tags are designed to withstand harsh conditions and can be scanned directly into the software, so that equipment can be tracked for usage, maintenance and training.
The Connected Worker system offers three types of tags: one that adheres to flat, nonmetallic surfaces, one that can be mounted to metallic surfaces and a sealed, rigid tag that can be attached to devices with irregular or odd-sized surfaces.
The method helps you upgrade the capabilities of your plant safety program by managing PPE, training, and worker compliance from one open interface. When you can see worker compliance status and required PPE by task in one view, you can improve outcomes by quickly assigning qualified workers to the right jobs with the right tools.