Australian access control system wins global acceptance

Monday, 24 November, 2014

An innovative Australian access control system is winning the support of leading companies around the world. The inexpensive, easy-to-use AccessPack technology significantly reduces both OHS and business risk associated with industrial equipment use.

First aimed at high-risk equipment, it is now being installed on a variety of equipment across a range of industries around the world due to its simplicity and versatility. Major existing users of AccessPack include companies such as Schlumberger, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, FMG, Weatherford, UGL, Komatsu, Hitachi, Disney, Rolls Royce and the Whiting Corporation.

AccessPack, from Western Australian company CASWA, uses smart card technology to prevent unauthorised operators from using high-risk or critical equipment. This improves OSH outcomes by requiring users to have current and appropriate ‘tickets’ including qualifications, accreditation, training or inductions in order to operate the equipment. It records who uses the equipment, which creates and maintains a culture of operator accountability and typically improves availability as authorised users instinctively take greater care, says CASWA. It also provides HSE staff with access to information required for effective incident investigation and proactive training needs analysis.

AccessPack is radically different from typical access control systems that are designed to prohibit use by merely restricting perimeter access. Not only do these systems need expensive communications infrastructure to work (between the control point and a backend computer), once people have passed security, there is typically nothing to actually stop them from operating any individual machine they can get their hands on.

“AccessPack, however, is fitted to the actual device you want to manage. So it will only operate for individual persons that have been authorised to do so, and only for the period that this authority is valid. Machines will simply not start for anyone else,” says the technology’s developer, Paul Kelly, managing director of CASWA.

“Most importantly, however, our hardware is simple and hassle-free to use. After you fit an AccessPack to a machine, the operator just replaces pressing a start-switch with swiping a card. Thus we don’t get much push back from users," says Kelly. The system also prevents unqualified personnel from being pressured into using hazardous equipment by overeager or time-stressed supervisors. “So it’s win-win for everyone.”

Other features of AccessPack include the ability to track when maintenance or servicing is due, thus keeping equipment in good working condition and further ensuring operators’ safety. Equipment can also be tagged out if this is required for any reason, or if mandatory maintenance intervals are not done in the required period. In this mode, no operator, certified or otherwise, can physically use the equipment until it is safe to do so.

Administration is just as simple. A secure web interface enables access rights to be granted or changed using a few drag and drop actions.

Recently, CASWA signed a licence agreement with the Whiting Corporation, a major manufacturer of overhead cranes, foundry equipment and rail maintenance lifting equipment in the US, for distribution throughout North America.

Whiting Corporation Product Director Joel Phelps said: “The technology is brilliant. It is simple to install and use and is already proven in service in some of the most challenging markets and physically challenging locations on earth.”

The system consists of a ‘control puck’ (sensor assembly containing an RFID reader and other smart electronics) fitted to the machine and programmed with relevant information about the machine and its location. Machines will work only when the user swipes the puck with a valid RFID card. As soon as the logged-in user finishes using the equipment, smart sensors and electronics within the AccessPack detect this event and they are automatically logged out to prevent usage by unauthorised personnel.

RFID cards are programmed with ‘tokens’ for each respective piece/type of equipment that a particular operator can use, based on the person’s inductions, training, certifications and associated expiry dates.

Unlike traditional access control hardware that relies on communication between the access control point and a central management computer running a database of permissions, AccessPack is a standalone system with all the information required to grant/deny access being contained on the user’s RFID card. This is the key to its wide applicability and cheap installation.

A wide range of applications kits has been developed so AccessPack is currently able to be fitted to any equipment powered from 2 to 415 V, AC or DC.

Related Articles

AI and data science will lead the next Industrial Revolution

Are we there already? Or is AI just another buzzword that will soon pass?

AMW2024 comes to Darling Harbour

AMW2024 is on at ICC Sydney, in Darling Harbour, 17–19 April 2024.

Tiny sensor sniffs out toxic ammonia gas

Exposure to high levels of ammonia can lead to chronic lung conditions and irreversible organ...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd