When a global mining company wanted to increase productivity at its remote Canadian operations, it looked at how to automate tracking of maintenance tools in use round the clock.
Situated in Canada's far-flung Northwest Territories, the site is spread across an area of nearly two square miles (over 5 square kilometers). The mining operations take place mostly underground, with many shafts drilled under a lake. In operation 24 hours a day, the company maintains a maintenance team onsite 24/7 to ensure round-the-clock availability of the drilling, collection, and transportation equipment.
All these mining operations conditions present unique challenges. The specialized onsite equipment requires particular maintenance tools such as specialized wrenches, drills, and saws, making visibility into their location and availability a critical requirement. The remote location and challenging environment drastically limit access to offsite spares and tools, increasing the value of the onsite tool inventory. Manual tracking has been in place, with the tool crib manned by a maintenance technician to oversee an inventory of over 1,000 items. However, record lapses would still happen regularly while providing no visibility into onsite tool availability.
To identify each tool and equipment in the inventory, the solution selected Xerafy Nano X-II On-Metal RFID tags for their field-proven robustness and opted for mounting using adhesive.
“Tracking metal tools that are typically covered in dirt requires quick and reliable RFID technology, particularly when there is no tool attendant on-site to verify the check-out process,” said Dean Perry, president of ToolHound
With its easy-to-use touch screen kiosk, maintenance technicians scan their badges to access the automated tool room. They then choose whether they are checking out or returning inventory. Doorways fitted with an Impinj reader scan the items and displays them on the computer screen. The operator confirms that the list matches its inventory to ensure accountability.
The solution warns when an item is overdue for return. Moreover, it enables full visibility as to which maintenance technician has which tools at any given time. And by making comprehensive data available, the solution provides an unbiased insight into inventory usage.
As a result, the mining company leveraged the ToolHound RFID tool tracking solution to increase staff accountability and overall productivity while reducing equipment budgets.