This spotlight on SAT's IntelaTrac 2000 was written to accompany the feature story, "RFIDs: More Versaltile Than Bar Codes," in the July 2001 issue of Field Force Automation magazine.
SAT (Systems Automation Technology) Corp., established in 1995, initially focused on RFID but has expanded its offering to include mobile operations and maintenance applications, focusing on adaptive procedure and process management utilizing wireless handheld technology.
SAT's customers hail from the petrochemical marketplace, including seven of the top 10 companies in its industry including Exxon Mobile, Chevron, Phillips, Shell and BP. SAT offers its clients asset management or what it likes to call "operational excellence." Says Mark Zelenak, SAT's vice president of sales and marketing, "Our systems ensure that a person is at the right location with the right asset--whether that's to take a reading or perform a repair--plus that they have the ability to update data or take directed action as necessary,"
Both SAT and Telxon developed the Safetrak handheld to read RFID tags plus incorporate other peripheral equipment for different types of readings. SAT also created an application to take users through the walk-through procedures ("rounds") they need to do every day. The users scan a tag to identify and confirm the asset, which then walks them through the associated questions they need to answer. If the answers, or data, input by the operator is out of the normal range, users can be prompted by the system to collect additional information, notify someone or perform a directed action. That information is then uploaded to the systems that run the plant or manage the maintenance activity.
Prior to the use of RFIDs, Zelenak says, "we had to rely on the operator to tell us that they were at the right asset. They'd do this by looking at the serial number or by guessing. There was no proof, just their years of experience. Still, from time to time a worker would repair the wrong pump," wasting valuable parts and time.
Although many sources complain that the cost of RFIDs is hampering their acceptance, SAT thinks that it was limited interest and applications that have held back their popularity until now. Zelenak says that once you're dealing with RFID chips in volume numbers that "the actual cost isn't much more than bar codes when your consider the cost to maintain and replace damaged barcodes." He also points out RFIDs durability, lack of orientation requirements, and ability to update data that will stay with the asset are key benefits and cost differentiators.
SAT's IntelaTrac 2000 enables data to be collected using pen-based handheld computers that send the info over a wireless RF network to corporate networks and databases. IntelaTrac supports many portable add-on devices to aid in data collection, including temperature probes, vibration guns and calibration devices.
For more information on SAT Corp. or IntelaTrac 2000, go to www.sat-corp.com.