NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is implementing an extensive wireless, sensor-based system aimed at improving the management of hazardous materials to enhance security and safety, while significantly reducing ongoing supply chain costs.

The ChemSecure pilot program integrates Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and sensor-based technology with the Department of Defense’s existing web-based Hazardous Materials Management System (HMMS) database to automate the real-time management of hazardous materials including usage, shipment, tracking and storage. The first project of its kind, NASA Dryden developed ChemSecure in close partnership with the Department of Defense and leading private sector companies, including Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores, Calif.; Intermec Technologies Corporation, headquartered in Everett, Wash.; EnvironMax, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah; and Patlite (USA) Corporation of Torrance, Calif.

“The ChemSecure program is a testament to NASA’s commitment to using advanced technology and business processes to create safer, more secure management systems for hazardous material movement and storage,” said Ralph Anton, chemical program manager at NASA Dryden. “ChemSecure’s guiding business processes and technology foundation are not limited to the hazardous materials environment – we see numerous applications for tracking of a variety of materials, in the public and private sectors, and plan to help agencies and organizations take advantage of the system.”

ChemSecure places RFID tags on hazardous material containers and uses Oracle Sensor-Based Services to capture, manage, analyze and respond to any movement or other change of the chemicals. NASA Dryden applies the real-time information in the HMMS database to make informed decisions about the transportation and storage of hazardous materials, and provides automatic alerts – text messaging, voice alerts and e-mails – to professionals in security, safety, health and environment to warn them of any changes with the chemicals.

ChemSecure utilizes data captured by Intermec 750 mobile computers, IP3 RFID mobile readers and fixed RFID readers, temperature sensors, and Patlite visual response devices to ensure that managers always have access to critical chemical information. For example, security professionals are notified if unauthorized access attempts are made to obtain highly hazardous materials, and environmental professionals are alerted when the storage limit of a hazardous chemical locker is close to exceeding capacity.

In addition to helping organizations significantly reduce hazardous materials management costs and errors, the ChemSecure program includes many additional capabilities that enhance safety and security measures such as:

Supplying critical data to first responders and decision makers so they are equipped to make timely decisions for the safety, security and protection of people as well as the physical assets in the environment during an emergency evacuation involving a chemical spill;

Monitoring personnel when they handle hazardous containers and providing accountability by crosschecking personnel information with container information to reduce theft, error and fraud;

Providing end-to-end visibility of the hazardous materials transportation and storage life cycle for improved decision making and auditing;

Ensuring chemicals are placed in appropriate and safe locations to avoid adverse reactions with other chemicals; and

Making sure personnel are properly authorized and trained to work with the chemicals to reduce human error.

“The ChemSecure pilot is a great example of how organizations can leverage connecting the physical world to the information world to improve operations, enhance business processes and reduce costs,” said Allyson Fryhoff, vice president of Oracle Sensor-Based Services. “RFID and other sensor-based technologies can present many new challenges regarding information management. It’s imperative that organizations have the appropriate information infrastructure in place to meet these demands.”

NASA Dryden is planning a second phase of the ChemSecure project that will provide enhanced features for scrutinizing all vehicles entering and leaving unguarded access points and for maintaining full inventory management throughout the facility, extending the homeland security element of this project. Additionally, the sensor-based technology will track all climate-controlled chemicals in restricted environments.