September 6, 2023

RFID Technology Evolution: Food vs Mining

Durban, South Africa — RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology has found a valuable niche in the mining industry. It is changing how operations are managed and improving mineral recovery.

Lise Oertel
 Communications Specialist

RFID Technology Evolution: Food vs Mining

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology has found a valuable niche in the mining industry. It is changing how operations are managed while enhancing safety measures for everyone involved.

Although powerful, RFID technology is relatively unobtrusive. It uses radio waves to identify and track objects, delivering real-time insights and information that can lead to better decisions.

The applications of RFID are diverse. The mining industry has expanded the initial approach from food and hospitality to provide effective asset management. Mines are sprawling environments with numerous items that need swift and accurate tracking.

With RFID tags, equipment is utilised optimally, reducing downtime and improving operational efficiency.

RFID Technology Shows You How Your Ore Behaves

The concepts of mineral processing seem simple enough, right? The tough part is selecting the best combination of processes and making them work harmoniously to produce optimal recovery, with minimal product in waste. That's why RFID technology is now used to provide real-time process control, every step of the way.

The RFID tracers resemble the characteristics of the ore simulating the material flow path to correct classification size and density. By sending a handful through a plant, you'll gain valuable insight and be able to optimise existing plants to work more efficiently and increase yield. Not only that, but you’ll be able to:

  • Introduce commodity-specific particle size and density RFID tracers.
  • Monitor your plant’s performance by determining what goes into your process vs what comes out.
  • Act timeously on your intel.
  • Be assured of optimal metallurgical performance 24/7.
  • Increase your plant's efficiency by optimising the process.
  • Reduce down-time by improving plant maintenance scheduling.
  • Save on operational costs.

When expertly integrated into your plant, RFID technology lets you track and monitor ore and waste from blasting and hauling, all the way through the mineral processing plant. Through realistic simulation, you’ll gain deep understanding of particle residence time and flow, you’ll reduce ore loss and waste to ore, and you’ll achieve improved overall yield by effectively controlling the ROM feed.

RFID Technology Delivers Several Safety Improvements

Miners often work in challenging conditions, and their well-being is paramount. RFID-enabled identification badges allow for the precise monitoring of each workplace environment.

If an emergency occurs, locating each worker or initiating an evacuation plan becomes easier. That means lives can be saved with this technology’s evolution from the food vs mining industries.

  • Gas sensors integrated with RFID technology can alert miners to dangerous levels, preventing accidents.
  • RFID-equipped wearable devices can notify miners when they enter danger zones, promoting adherence to safety protocols.
  • They also enable ventilation-on-demand (VOD), that means that only areas with detected personnel are ventilated, which will drastically reduce power consumption.
  • Today’s tags are robust, withstanding extreme conditions to deliver real-time data assets.

When monitoring the environment, it is essential to remember that mines can have ecological impacts. Mitigating them is a priority of the industry. RFID sensors with strategic placement can collect information on various metrics to ensure regulatory compliance, create safety improvements, or take timely actions.

Some common environmental factors that RFID technology can track include air composition and water quality. With this data, mining companies are empowered to take timely actions that reduce their overall environmental footprint.

RFID Improves the Supply Chain in the Mining Industry

Radio-Frequency identification technology improves the supply chain within modern mining operations. As raw materials are extracted and processed, RFID tags on shipments help track their journey. That allows for more transparency while reducing theft, facilitating smooth logistical operations.

The food industry approached RFID technology to enable real-time asset tracking through extended supply chains. This added visibility delivers accurate location data and status updates for materials, equipment, and products.

For the mining industry, a similar benefit occurs. Companies can monitor the movement of resources from extraction to processing, which improves coordination and planning.

Lots of information must get tracked to manage an entire supply chain. RFID reduces human errors by automating data capture. Traditional manual data entry can lead to mistakes, especially in challenging mining environments. This technology eliminates these mistakes, ensuring accurate inventory records and preventing loss due to incorrect shipments.

A few extra benefits have developed with the mining industry’s adoption of RFID technology in recent years.

  • Anti-Theft Measures. Mining sites are often vulnerable to thieves and unauthorised access. RFID tags deter theft and aid in asset recovery. An alarm can be triggered to prevent loss if a designated item moves beyond its allowable area.
  • Compliance and Traceability. This technology’s ability to track items at a granular level enhances traceability. In the mining industry, regulatory compliance is crucial. RFID helps prove the origin and quality of raw materials, which is valuable for minerals from conflict zones.
  • Resource Use Improvements. With RFID, mining companies can better allocate resources. They can identify underused equipment, improve maintenance schedules, and make informed decisions about equipment upgrades or replacements.

Potential Challenges with RFID Technology and Mining

Although numerous benefits come with RFID technology, there are some challenges to consider before implementing new routines or processes.

  • Integrating RFID technology with existing software systems and processes can be complex.
  • While RFID can significantly reduce errors, it's not immune to inaccuracies. Tag collisions or misreads still happen, leading to inaccurate information.
  • Compatibility issues between various RFID systems can hinder seamless communication and data sharing.
  • Mining locations can be expansive, so a scalable system is necessary to avoid sacrificing accuracy or performance.

With proactive efforts, these challenges can be addressed quickly and efficiently when working with an experienced provider.

RFID Technology: Food vs Mining

Although RFID tags and technologies were primarily used by the food industry in the past, it is now an essential asset for mining companies. The benefits it offers while working to improve operations create a more profitable environment while protecting the environment and employee safety.

RFID fosters better collaboration among different departments and stakeholders. Everyone involved can access accurate, up-to-date information, enabling smoother communication and coordination.

Stark Resources is a leading provider of RFID technology opportunities to the mining industry. If you’re looking for next-generation solutions around ore sorting, there is a solution available to consider.

Through mining applications, the untapped potential of RFID has finally arrived. Now, it is up to each company to create opportunities from the available data.

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