AN AUSTRALIA made access control system is being installed on a variety of equipment across the world due to its simplicity and versatility, its manufacturers say.

The AccessPack technology, developed by Western Australian company CASWA, uses smart card technology to prevent unauthorised operators from using high risk or critical equipment.

This reduces both the occupational health and safety and business risk associated with industrial equipment by requiring users to have current and appropriate ‘tickets’ including qualifications, accreditation, training and/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.

CASWA managing director Paul Kelly said the AccessPack package differed from most access control systems, which are designed to prohibit use by merely restricting perimeter access.

“AccessPack however, is fitted to the actual device you want to manage,” he said.

“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,” he said.

There is also no limitation to the number of units or different equipment types on a site.

Installations can be a single machine on one site, a type of machine across multiple sites, or a total enterprise solution for all types of critical or hazardous equipment. It is infinitely scalable without incurring any sunk cost along the way.

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.

The system consists of a ‘control puck’ – a sensor assembly fitted to the machine containing an RFID reader and other smart electronics – which is 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, tagged with tokens for each piece of equipment a particular operator can use based on their training.

As soon as the logged-in user finishes using the equipment, smart sensors and electronics within the AccessPack detect this event and he/she is automatically logged out to prevent usage by unauthorised personnel.

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