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New Innovations in RFID Tracking for Mining Equipment Hit the Market

Apr 30, 2021

One of Northern Ontario’s most long-standing industrial manufacturers has used the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to innovate and bring new solutions to Canadian industry.

At a time when diverse industries are experiencing an accelerated pace of digital adoption, Thunder Bay Hydraulics is pursuing new digital innovations for the industrial manufacturing world.

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Thunder Bay Hydraulics in partnership with Titan Worldwide, has developed the RFID Tracking System at its operations in Thunder Bay with plans to expand the program at various mining operations across Canada in 2021. An industry disruptor that imbeds UHF chips into both manufactured and repaired products for digital part identification, history analysis and replacement orders.
  The mining industry has witnessed significant developments in RFID tracking over the past decade but the majority of systems have been limited to personnel and large asset tracking. For example, many international mining companies have implemented RFID tracking systems as a safety application to help monitor the whereabouts of underground miners at work.  The 2006 MINER Act called for electronic tracking specifically for coal mines but the technology has been adopted across many other mining environments. The application at the Stobie Mine was a notable case which saw RFID used for tracking ore samples as they travelled underground through the crusher and into processing. Newmont Mining uses a custom RFID system to track specific mining vehicles as well as miners working onsite. This is a world-class example of technology supporting improved operations and safety practices.
  New technology has made RFID chips increasingly smaller, more robust and cheaper, creating expansion and growth across healthcare, automated manufacturing facilities, warehousing and retail sectors. RFID tracking systems are a widely used in larger commercial and retail operations for theft prevention and automated checkout systems.
  When we look around the world at diverse industries and sectors, it’s easy to see the valuable contributions of RFID tracking systems. One of the more exciting trends has been the use of RFID chips in tracking components on mining equipment. Often times, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual components on any piece of mobile mining equipment. From a small CME exploration drill rig, or a Komatsu Jumbo Drill, to a Dyna Bolter - the list of individual and unique components never seems to end. This is where RFID can be a real game changer.
  In the age of digital data tracking and management, a piece of mobile equipment can be difficult to track within a mine’s asset list but even more tough to track in terms of the equipment’s extensive list of parts, sub-components and serial numbers. The question then becomes how can a mine and its partners in equipment repair effectively track a piece of equipment and its sub-components? What’s the most efficient way to track repairs on pumps and cylinders? Is there a simpler way to track wear parts to ensure accountability to the mine, reduce downtime and ensure maintenance schedules are met?
  The RFID Tracking System has been designed with the answers to these questions in mind. This state-of-the-art system works for both equipment or part identification, and for a mine’s vendors to improve transparency and accountability when conducting equipment repairs. The software side of the system produces trackable repair and inspection reports for each sub-component, which can be exported for maintenance records and ongoing monitoring.
  The RFID Tracking System can be implemented on a wide variety of equipment, parts and components including hydraulic cylinders, pneumatic cylinders, actuators, hydraulic pumps, grease pumps, air motors, and many other pieces of mining equipment. The small RFID chip is permanently imbedded into the piece of equipment for easy scanning using a UHF reader or a smartphone with a free downloadable RFID scanner.
    The component with an RFID chip can be scanned and identified much easier than any manual or scanning through an online forum. This unique RFID code not only identifies the part but also identifies that particular component, its repair history and a list of easily purchasable wear parts. It also identifies vendors where the component was purchased as well as options for replacement and repairs.

For any questions about the RFID Tracking System, please contact Jamie Crozier at:


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