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SUJATHA BODAPATI: Tracking water supply chain with active RFID

Nov. 4, 2008 - We asked Sujatha Bodapati, founder of Asset Pulse, if what we heard was true: that her company is involved with an RFID water tracking project. We were close.

I hear that you have been using RFID with water facilities. It sounds so incongruous, could you tell us about that?

BODAPATI: Sure. There is a water company that we are working with in California.

Is this municipal water?

BODAPATI: They are the company that supplies water to residents of a particular city in California. They have a few pump stations and a main office. They need to be able to track their employees entering and exiting all their pumping stations: when they enter, how long they are there at the pump station and when they exit.

So these would be facilities that are spread out over a geographical area?

BODAPATI: Exactly. And typically these facilities don't have anybody there, just a building with a pump inside and a lock on the door and the cage.

So there is no one there to track who comes in and how long they are there. Now they are able to record, if you will, when someone comes in, how long they were there at the pump station and when they left.

Security is one aspect that they are looking at, right?

BODAPATI: Yes.

What other types of data do they collect? Is there anything else that improves their efficiency besides security aspect?

BODAPATI: Yes. Sometimes they have contract labor they are required to pay by hour. This way they are also able to track time and attendance and pay based on work that was done.

Now, are these personnel badges essentially that they are using?

BODAPATI: Yes. Badges that they hang either on their neck or somewhere on them.

At what frequency are they working?

BODAPATI: This is active RFID, 433 MHz.

Why did they choose active for this project?

BODAPATI: Because they needed to track people over a larger distance. You have your pump station and then they have an area around the pump station that is all enclosed within a fence and a gate.

They want to know if anyone is within the fence, even if they are outside the building. So we can manage it with just one reader. Otherwise you would have had to have more readers.

I see. And do they actually do any, like sub-tracking of when someone would be working on a particular pump? I don't know much about water facilities.

BODAPATI: Actually it becomes a little tricky to be able to compartmentalize the area, if you will. So, it is just are they are on the facility or not.

Since your client has been using this technology, have they found anything that surprised them?

BODAPATI: It gives them a lot more visibility into what is happening at the pump station. Otherwise there is none, because no one is there. They don’t know who walks in and walks out.

This has been great for them from a visibility standpoint. And now they have taken the same technology and started tracking some of the meters that they take to the residencies to record.

Sure.

BODAPATI: So those meters in their office are being tracked.

So they would be tagging the meters as well?

BODAPATI: Yes.

And does this help them satisfy any kind of government regulations or monitoring that they must go through?

BODAPATI: Right. They actually started looking at this technology to meet some compliance regulations. And then they have kind of taken it and moved it around and they saw the value in it and have now started using it for other purposes.

For the future, do you see other municipal facilities like this having an interest from people you have spoken to?

BODAPATI: Absolutely. And so that is interestingly they are watching how this deployment goes before it becomes something that they will start thinking about.

Click here to view the original article posted at RFIDswitchboard.

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