Remote mining operation environments add to the challenge when it comes to managing sophisticated assets such as high-frequency screens, feeders, and centrifuges. Here the key issue is to identify equipment operating at mining sites, and improve flow-process inspection and maintenance, thereby assisting in delivering operational excellence to clients.

The perfect answer to this challenge is Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, according to Aury Africa director Sydney Parkhouse. “In the mining and minerals-processing sector, RFID technology is ideal for inspecting plant equipment, mining machines, pumps, valves, and pipes, among many others,” he explains.

In order to capitalise on this potential market, Aury Africa enlisted RFID specialist Thembekile Asset Management Solutions (TAMS) to develop a solution specific to the requirements of the mining industry. TAMS had already achieved considerable success in this regard in the oil and gas, manufacturing, and healthcare industries.

This is also in line with Aury Africa’s vision of keeping up to date with such trends as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. “Our capability of integrating RFID technology into applicable solutions complement Aury Africa’s desire to revolutionise existing operations,” TAMS Business Development Director Dean Parkhouse explains.

The search for RFID technology applicable to the mining industry focused on factors such as vibration, high operating temperatures and pressures encountered. “Tag selection is imperative. Not only do we have to consider the environment and working conditions that these tags would have to endure, we also need to look at mounting options and the working surfaces available,” Dean adds.

In the end, Xerafy’s Roswell UHF RFID tags were selected as the ideal solution. These offer a variety of attachment options suited to mining equipment, enabling real-time tracking and asset-management applications. In addition, the tags also allow for comprehensive reporting on planned maintenance inspections, for example.

RFID tags use an electromagnetic field to identify and track tags attached to objects and equipment. This aids in flow-process inspection and maintenance, and enables compliance with all regulatory reporting requirements. The microchips in the tags can be embedded into different types of attachments, including cable ties, bands, buckles, and bolts. They can be welded, glued, or tied onto the required application.

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. “Aury Africa has several RFID implementation proposals from mines belonging to Anglo American, Lonmin, and Seriti at present,” Dean concludes.

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