Italian specialist RFID company Eximia, has been awarded the RFID Award 2010 for Innovation, for its Meerkat personnel safety monitoring system. Meerkat is based on the award-winning Ubisense solution. "The Meerkat product has been developed to closely monitor and ensure access for authorised personnel in hazardous environments such as refineries, power plants, mines, shipyards, inland terminals and airports," said Dariush Behboudi, CTO of Eximia, "The system ensures personnel can only gain access to areas for which they have the proper work permit. The system also records all activity, both in terms of position and video. Meerkat includes an alarm system, which is triggered if there is any deviation from standard operational procedure."
Meerkat is currently being used to monitor activities within a very large maintenance hangar of a major Italian airline. The introduction of the system has allowed the hanger access policies to be constantly reviewed: each employee wears an ultra-wideband (UWB) Ubisense Tag, which is encased in a leather wallet bearing the company badge, and must always be exposed to view. The Ubisense system identifies the location of the individual at around 50cm accuracy in 3D within a 100m x 100m hangar. The Meerkat system integrates optical and thermal imaging cameras for video surveillance, motion detection and pattern recognition, measuring temperature, pressure and the unique ID of each badge.
"Meerkat manages and integrates information from different technologies," continues Behboudi, "such as DCS, SCADA, PLC, ERP systems, supervision and control, video surveillance platforms and utliises localisation platforms such as Ubisense UWB and GPS to provide real-time positioning. The dashboard allows Meerkat to display spatial information alongside summary tables."
In addition to improving overall process monitoring and quality assurance, the system decreases the overall risk to passengers and crew, and a number of other advantages have also been noted such as increasing security at work, more efficient risk management and a proven audit system which can be used in any potential reconstruction during risk investigations.
Finally, complete visibility of the hangar and all personnel provides additional security in the event of an accident. The system is now in daily operation and it is expected that Meerkat will be extended to the airline's other hangars in the near term.