Helping Limit Exposure to Vibration
Reactec Ltd is a leader in combating noise and vibration in the workplace, reducing heath risks and saving time lost through industrial injuries and sickness. With clients in the construction, automotive marine engineering industries and energy industries and utilities, Reactec wanted to develop a new solution for monitoring the exposure of power tool users to vibration. To support that development they turned to CoreRFID.
CoreRFID & The Reactec Vibration Monitoring System
Around 2 million UK workers are exposed to levels of vibration in the workplace that could pose a risk of them developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), related diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome and “vibration white finger” or the back-pain associated with whole body vibration. Each year British industry is faced with over 3000 claims for industrial injury disablement benefit as a result of vibration related diseases.
Vibration can cause permanent damage but its effects are preventable. Employers are obliged to ensure that workers are not exposed to limits greater than those laid down in the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 administered by the Health and Safety Executive. Reactec Ltd has created the HAVmeter solution to help employers to meet their obligations and reduce the costs associated with vibration related industrial diseases. At the heart of the HAVmeter system is tool tagging technology designed and supplied by CoreRFID in a project which involved solving the problems of deploying radio frequency identification in environments which challenged reception and transmission reliability with standard tags because of vibration, magnetic fields, electrical interference, moisture and temperature changes.
The HAVmeter System
Users of the Reactec system attach colour coded tags to tools used in the workplace. These rugged tags carry data about the tool, its make and model, a unique tool number, and an average tool vibration value. Each day, workers collect an i-pod sized, portable device (the “HAVmeter”); signing it out with a personal swipe card that carries details of their allowed levels of vibration. The technology used is simple and robust, allowing it to be deployed in factory environments or on construction sites.
The HAVmeter is attached magnetically to any tool used during the day. Tool tags are coded red, yellow or green to give a visual warning of the vibration caused by a particular tool and the HAVmeter displays their total vibration dosage helping workers to manage their own exposure. The HAVmeter records the vibration exposure by collecting data from the tool tags, storing details of tools used and the time that the tool was operated for.
The HAVmeter detects the actual levels of vibration experienced with its on-board accelerometers. At the end of the day the HAVmeter is returned to its docking station to be recharged for the following day and to allow the data collected to be uploaded. Software analyses the data from the system to show the vibration experienced by each operator, converting the time the tool was used for and the vibration level into a points score using the Health & Safety Executive’s system. Software can also track if a particular tool is emitting higher levels of vibration than is expected, pointing to a need for maintenance. It can show the times that tools are run for, highlighting the need for changes in working practices or for staff training.
How CoreRFID Helped
CoreRFID worked closely with Reactec on the design and development of the system. They provided Reactec with guidance on technology choices for the tool tags. The CoreRFID design involved the development of a custom tag with a larger than standard antenna in order to cope with the specialised transmission / reception problems found when the HAVmeter is magnetically attached to a tag on a vibrating, electrical tool. CoreRFID sourced and arranged production of the custom tag ready for embedding in the Reactec housing.
In addition CoreRFID created the software that writes data to the tags in a complex way using bit rather than byte format. This saves space in the limited data capacity of the tags, using encryption / decryption techniques to store the data. The CoreRFID software converts data from a standard .csv file, allowing the Reactec system to be as simple as possible and insulated from the technical requirements of writing data to and reading data from the tag. CoreRFID provides all the hardware components needed for the RFID tags used by the HAVmeter system.
Reactec & CoreRFID
The development and delivery of the HAVmeter system demanded a close working relationship between Reactec and CoreRFID. Reactec selected CoreRFID as their technology partner for the project because of CoreRFID’s ability to meet Reactec price targets for their tool tags; because of CoreRFID’s track record in successful RFID implementations and their ability to provide a custom solution that the demanding nature of the HAVmeter operational environment.