SAIT Researcher Recognized for Innovative Cattle-Tracking System


GlenKathler_ASTechAwardSAIT Polytechnic researchers took the top award for Innovation in Agricultural Science at the 2015 ASTech Awards this weekend.

Glen Kathler, applied research chair of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Application Development Lab(RADLab) at SAIT, was recognized for his team’s work on a four-year, $1-million research project with Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA).

“If we can find ways, with technology, to improve a business and improve the return on investment for everyone — from a producer on the ranch all the way up the supply chain – that is a definite win. It makes that industry more sustainable,” says Kathler. “In the RADLab, if someone has an idea for a technology that can help them do something better, but they can’t find it on the shelf, we build it.”

The award-winning applied-research project involved the design, development, and field testing of an ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID cattle-tracking system. With novel SAIT-made software and hardware, the RADLab’s solution can read hundreds of cattle tags simultaneously and record and store animal-specific data linked to individual tags. The system improves on current cattle-industry standards for tracking animals from “farm to fork.”

“The new UHF-RFID tag/readers system developed and field tested by RADLab researchers will be a fraction of the cost of the old technology, more reliable, more compatible with producers’ computer systems, and more efficient,” says Gordon Cove, president and CEO of ALMA.

One of seven sponsored innovation-and-technology awards given out at the 15th annual ASTech Foundation event, the Innovation in Agricultural Science award includes a cash price of $10,000. The ceremony rotates between Calgary and Edmonton, and was held at TELUS Spark in Calgary Nov. 6.

Kathler and his team are already looking ahead, with a newly developed UHF-RFID asset-management solution already hitting the market that tracks and locates rig mats in remote work sites.

“This technology has applications across many sectors; the energy industry, health-care sector and others are approaching us to develop UHF-RFID systems specific to those environments,” says Kathler.