Explosive tracking system

Advanced RFID technology is allowing companies to keep their eye on the prize. Jessica Darnbrough writes.

The term ‘intelligent software’ has long been bandied about all too frequently to describe the latest gadgets and software advancements.

The last 10 years have seen technological improvements in everything from automation in drill rigs, to self diagnostic systems in minesite vehicles.

Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) technology has also undergone an overhaul in recent years. The rapid progression in this area has some using the term once more, however, this time it might just be warranted.

Using RFID tags, mining companies can keep their eye firmly locked on the prize, tracking the progress of explosives from ordering through delivery and onto final detonation.

By using RFID technology, mining companies can provide safe storage, security, tracking and regularity compliance in the use of explosives.

RFID tags are Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) devices with the capacity for safe, fast and robust reading/writing, storage and remote retrieval of data via radio waves.

RFID can integrate an Explosive Tracking Code (ETC) into current inventory systems, improve security and accountability of explosives between manufacturing and field application and even improve tracking of explosives and detonators in the field for better post-blast analysis.

Global Tracking Solutions (GTS) implementation and development manager Jim Cash told Australian Mining that RFID tags can now supply users with information on where their explosives have come from.

“RFID tags are read/write, so it is possible to add information to a basic tag, providing the owner with information on where it was manufactured, its life, where it has been stored, and the last user,” Cash said.

“Major advances in RFID technology have allowed the tags to be used safely in conjunction with explosives.”

According to Cash, GTS has developed ETC protocols for the layout of an RFID tag that all explosives manufacturers can adopt as industry standard.

The key advantage to users is that current barcode information can be embedded into the RFID tag without the redesign of existing inventory management systems. The RFID-ETC protocol meets the requirements of Electronic Product Code tag (EPC) Gen 2 and ISO standards and is being reviewed by the Australian ISO working group.

This protocol surpasses the minimum criteria for data accountability and recording requirements, and can be used virtually indefinitely in both civilian and military applications.

In May 2008, Johnex explosives implemented the solution at their Kalgoorlie mine in WA.

An RFID tag added to all boxes allowed for individual box tracking and could be upgraded to individual explosives unit level, in a controlled manner.

The site implemented the 13.56 Mhz read/write RFID tags which met all the safety considerations because the RFID tags were below the power required to reach the minimum no fire zone for an electric detonator.

Construction and destruction

According to Cash, RFID can provide the magazine keeper with new resources to perform key tasks better and achieve higher work efficiency while meeting all new and future regulations.

For the first time, both stock management and risk reporting can be generated in both paper-based and electronic formats.

The continuity of smarter explosives tracking between manufacturing and field application is provided by the company’s MAGsafe system. The system is said to ensure the security and accountability of explosives in the form of bio-reader access controls, electronic and paper-based reporting systems and stock management at a unit level across the range of tagged products.

While the build in 5×5 risk matrix provides an independent red flag risk reporting system, IEtracker field application systems allow live electronic data capture.

“Paper-based systems provide a lack of traceability once the explosive leaves the box, restricting personnel from fully understanding what is being loaded into each blast hole,” Cash said.

“An RFID-ETC device will collect electronic data on hole by hole explosives usage as well as general blast patterns, enabling manufacturers and consumers to pinpoint faulty units or the source of misfires. The blast engineer can upload each hole’s data back into his mining/blasting software and review a range of options for continual process improvement to maintain high quality and safety standards.”

Jim Cash

Implementation and Development Manager

GTS

08 9470 2264

jcash@globaltracking.com.au

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