Screening and vibrating equipment solutions and services provider Aury Africa has introduced a radio-frequency identification (RFID) audit and inspection solution that is ideal for mining applications. These include inspecting plant equipment, mining machines, pumps, valves and pipes – in fact, most items of equipment that may require regular inspection and, in some cases, regulatory requirements.
RFID tags use an electromagnetic field to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects and equipment. This aids in flow-process inspection and maintenance, and ensures compliance with all regulatory reporting requirements. The microchips used in the tags can be embedded into different types of attachments, including cable ties, bands, buckles, and bolts. The flexibility of these attachments enables them to be welded, glued, or tied onto the required application.
“Aury Africa is currently integrating the RFID solution with our equipment through the assistance of our technical partner Thembekile Asset Management Solutions, which has many years’ experience in digitising workflow processes. This ensures that customers have access to real-time information, and also cuts down on unnecessary paperwork,” Aury Africa Director Sydney Parkhouse explains.
RFID tags each have their own unique identifier to ensure they can never be duplicated. The system requires a proof of presence, as the person undertaking the inspection has to be within proximity range of the tag with the scanning device to communicate the information securely.
These RFID mobile devices are fit-for-purpose, with apps available for iOS or Android operating systems. One of key features of the system is that the tag and the scanner do not have to be in direct line of sight for the transfer of communication to occur.
Through the use of the specialised mobile scanning device, one can identify and perform inspections on equipment and conduct in-field certifications. The mobile device has additional features that enable users to capture GPS coordinates of assets, and keep track of where they have been previously deployed.
In addition, fixed readers can be used to create ‘gateways’ whereby tagged equipment passing through the gateway can be read automatically. Typical uses of this functionality would be, for example, the transfer of equipment from one location to another.
Digital images of failures, hazards, and processes can be captured using the device’s digital camera. This allows mines to keep a record of the status of the equipment, while the device allows users to access documentation and equipment manuals easily to ensure that the correct asset is being inspected, and that maintenance work is undertaken correctly. Upon completion of the inspection, the results are synchronised automatically to the cloud for secure capture.
The RFID cloud software enables companies to develop an asset register of its equipment, capture standard specifications for asset categories, view the dates and times of inspections, and even monitor who undertook these.
Thembekile Business Development Director Dean Parkhouse explains that individual items can be accessed to view the actual asset and all related details. The information contained in the cloud includes images and diagrams. The RFID cloud software system can be integrated into most Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems such as SAP, Oracle, SAGE, and Microsoft Dynamics.
Reporting is carried out in real-time. Standard reports are available, while customised reports can be generated upon request. The reports can be e-mailed, and even delivered according to a defined schedule. Exception reporting functionality is also available. The reports can also be printed out if required, in addition to being stored safely in the cloud. The system generates a summary report that can be sent out after the inspection, or at the end of the shift.
The benefits of the system include that it provides for an effective asset management register, ensures compliance with inspection requirements, and enables skills transfer, while allowing mines to develop both a digital and hard-copy logbook. “Aury Africa has several RFID implementation proposals from mines belonging to Anglo American, Lonmin, and Seriti at present,” Parkhouse concludes.