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Case study

Traka key management solution improves industrial plant vehicle safety at Slane Quarry In Ireland
The key management system is configured initially through Traka32 software running on a PC
Traka key management ensures all keys and access to plant vehicles are readily available 24/7  


Spanning a site of 192 acres, industrial plant vehicles such as Volvo Shovels, Caterpillar Dumpers and Fork Trucks, which enable the quarry to function effectively, are widely dispersed. All are needed to keep the continuous stream of lorries, up to 150 per day, moving. Transporting in the region of 7,000 tonnes of aggregate daily, Slane is one of the biggest quarries in Ireland. Rock excavation is big business; the aggregates produced at Slane are used to support the substantial road building and house building projects undertaken throughout Ireland.

Roadstone, part of the worldwide CRH Group, recognised issues it needed to address and, in a recent interview, the Manager explained why it adopted a vehicle key solution from Traka. “There were two primary issues we needed to tackle: security of vehicles and Health & Safety compliance. By its very nature, the site is a large and dangerous place. Dangerous both in the sense of what it does and also in the machinery and equipment used. The machinery is heavy duty, as are the vehicles, and all tend to be widely dispersed about the site.”

“Naturally, trained operatives use the vehicles, it is part of their job, but they are regularly climbing on and off to perform other tasks,” it was explained. Historically the key for a vehicle, once signed out on a paper-based log system at the start of a day, would get left in a vehicle for convenience – partly so it didn’t get dropped from a pocket and lost, and partly so anyone else needing to use that vehicle didn’t have to track down the previous driver, who might have moved elsewhere on site. Or worse still, they might have finished their shift and accidentally taken the key home with them. All are full time employees but, even so, paper logs didn’t always get completed very accurately and it became a real problem when vehicles couldn’t be used because keys were missing.

Coping with missing keys was just one side of the problem because, by leaving the key in a vehicle during the day, another potentially much more serious situation was created. With visiting drivers and subcontractors on site every day, often having to wait their turn, they rely totally on the quarry staff to load or move the various substances. Subcontractors, working against the clock, became pretty quick at spotting a Dumper or Shovel with a key left in it, and although not qualified (and without permission), many would readily start to use a vehicle if they could, whilst quarry staff were away or on a break.

The Manager explained, “Such a situation was totally unacceptable. These vehicles are huge and can cost in excess of 200,000 Euro each. The damage they could cause in the wrong hands is unimaginable. In complying with Health & Safety legislation, we have a responsibility to ensure that no unauthorised or unqualified people can access any equipment whereby they could harm, or endanger, themselves or others. Under no circumstances can we permit subcontractors (or even our own staff, if not appropriately trained and competent) to use these vehicles. We had to find an acceptable solution – and that was Traka!”

At Slane Quarry, Traka iFobs are configured in ‘iFob per Person’ mode for the plant vehicles
Roadstone uses Traka iFobs to lock into ports within key management cabinet

Key control is now fully managed by Traka

“Traka provides us with just such a solution: it ensures that all keys and access to plant vehicles are readily available 24/7 to those who are authorised but it stops access by anyone who is unauthorised – our key control is now fully managed by Traka.”

Traka systems provide key management for both conventional keys (to buildings and equipment such as conveyers and power washers) and for keys to industrial plant vehicles. In both cases, this is achieved by using iFobs (metal bullet shaped key fobs, with inbuilt electronic intelligence) which lock into designated ports on receptor strips, housed within a Traka key management cabinet. Conventional keys are attached to the iFobs with security seals so they can’t be separated. The key management system is configured initially through the Traka32 software running on a PC. It defines the keys held by the system and a profile of the various users authorised to access them.

There are many permutations that can be configured. A site manager may perhaps be able to access all keys, whilst a driver would be restricted to the vehicle types that he/she is authorised to drive. If desired, licence expiry dates can be included so, when expired, even an authorised driver would be locked out until after the necessary refresher training had been completed. In the future Slane Quarry is looking to use a facility for recording non critical faults or equipment damage when a key is returned. And for keys to highly dangerous or secure areas, multi-level verification can be stipulated; whereby a valid key user can’t gain access until his/her supervisor has dual authorised the key release.

Users at Slane Quarry initially have to identify themselves to the Traka cabinet using a 4 digit PIN number and by swiping their ID card. Only if authorised will the cabinet open and, even then, that user will only have access to the keys that they are authorised to take.

Traka provides a full audit of key transactions. All key holders can be traced. At the cabinet, it is possible to immediately identify who has a particular key in their possession, and through the software look at the entire key history; who used each key and when they returned it. Further, contact information associated with the users can be stored in the software so, for example, if a user is identified as currently holding a key but that key is needed by someone else, their mobile phone number can be quickly accessed via Traka. Conventional keys don’t get taken home now, not since Traka was introduced – guys know that they are both traceable and fully accountable.

Plant vehicle key management

Of course, controlling access to conventional keys is a huge improvement over the previous paper log system, but it still didn’t address the implications of leaving keys unattended in the plant vehicles. However, with Traka it is possible to go one stage further.

“Traka provides us with just such a solution: it ensures that all keys and access to plant vehicles are readily available 24/7 to those who are authorised but it stops access by anyone who is unauthorised – our key control is now fully managed by Traka”, said Slane Quarry Manager

The iFob itself is now being used as the key; it replaces the conventional key and is inserted into a receptor socket fitted to the vehicle dashboard. The receptor socket is wired to a Data Logger, which is also connected to an Acceptance Button. To use the vehicle, a driver firstly has to insert the metal iFob and then conduct the pre-operational safety checks. If the vehicle is safe, the driver presses the Acceptance Button which writes a token to the iFob, which records that the checks have been successfully completed. In such cases, the vehicle is then ready for normal operations and when the driver returns his/her iFob at the end of duty, the pre-operational check information is automatically downloaded by the Traka software and stored in the database for future reference. However, should a critical fault be detected by the driver, he/she would hold down the Acceptance Button for more than 5 seconds. The vehicle would then become immobilised and, when the driver returns the iFob to the Traka cabinet, the vehicle is recorded as VOR (Vehicle off road). Only a special ‘service iFob’ can now restart the vehicle in order to move it off for repair. All clever stuff!

So, how do vehicle iFobs, which replace conventional keys, actually help?

At Slane Quarry, Traka iFobs are configured in ‘iFob per Person’ mode for the plant vehicles. This means that, whilst the iFob is resident and locked in the Traka cabinet, it has no real value as it has no assignments. But when a user accesses the Traka system, his/her identity is known and, at the instant they go to take a vehicle iFob, their unique profile of permissions is written to that iFob. Padraic Smith, Manager of Traka KMS (Ireland) explains what this means, “the IFob is now the ‘intelligent key’. It holds information about all the vehicles that particular user is permitted to drive. It becomes the drivers’ unique key for his/her shift or period of duty and it is their responsibility. They take it from vehicle to vehicle and it starts everything that they have authorisation to use. This means that there is no longer any need to leave a key in a vehicle – any user who is competent to use it will have that vehicle included in their unique user profile. It also means drivers don’t need to return to the site office to pick up another key for a different vehicle that they might need later in the day. And finally, if lost (or stolen), the iFob has no real value because the user profiles have a set expiry time and, what’s more, it can’t be copied like a conventional key.”

Benefits – yes, there are many

  • Keys are not left in vehicles
  • Keys are not lost or taken home
  • Unauthorised people can’t get access to keys
  • There is no need to return to the site office to pick up a key for another vehicle
  • Keys for high security areas need supervisory authorisation in order for them to be released
  • Unauthorised users can’t get access to industrial plant vehicles
  • Improved security and Health & Safety compliance
  • Reduced administration time
  • Improved operational efficiency and less downtime

When installed, what did the users think?

“Not an issue!” It was explained, “the regular drivers take pride in their machines, keeping them clean and ensuring they don’t get damaged. It was the occasional driver who would ‘trash it’. When keys were left in vehicles, we didn’t know who had hopped on during a lunch break - now we can ensure that no unauthorised person can access any vehicle. More than this, we have a full audit record of every driver accessing every vehicle. All this information, including the pre-operational safety checks, is recorded in the Traka database for management inspection, and is downloaded automatically every time an iFob is returned to the Traka cabinet. Our Health & Safety compliance is hugely improved and we have saved significant amounts of administration time,” (Slane Quarry Manager).

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