RFID Success at Xstrata

VRT recently completed the commissioning of RFID readers on the second and final cathode stripping machine in Xstrata's Townsville Copper Refinery. Expansion of the RFID system was undertaken after a six month trial of the technology which demonstrated 100% read reliability for tags mounted in steel plates. Each plate is fitted with a single RFID tag, mounted in such a way that it can be scanned from either side of the plate with the same reliability, without the need for redundant readers or antennas.

Plants using Xstrata Technology's "ISA Process" Copper refining process use tens of thousands of reusable stainless steel cathode plates that are immersed in electrolytic cells. These plates and the tags attached to them are exposed to harsh environmental and operating conditions through their service life, such as high levels of electromagnetic interference, corrosive chemicals and extremes in temperature. The plates require ongoing monitoring and servicing to maintain optimal levels of performance.

Plants that utilise re-usable cathode plates make a significant investment in their plate asset, and so the ability to reliably identify and track plates through their operating life offers significant benefits in asset management. Xstrata Technology's reusable cathode plate technology is used in over 30% of the world's copper refining capacity and is widely regarded as the leading copper refining process technology. VRT are proud to partner with Xstrata in the ongoing refinement of RFID technology, and the development of a comprehensive plate asset management system for electro-refining and electro-winning industries.