Posted on : Tuesday 3rd March 2020 06:26 PM
The “most popular” annual lists don’t regularly come-out till the end of the year, but it is worth talking about now three applications that have gained tremendous momentum this year. With the Smart Factory concept being powered throughout the world, RFID has appeared from the shadows and taken its place in the spotlight. The demand for a much larger amount of data, more security, and increased visibility into the production process has created RFID into a top role with regards to automation.
Machine Access Control
When considering RFID being utilized for access control, people think of readers located close to doorways either outside the building or within the plant. While those readers operate exactly like the industrial readers, they mostly cannot communicate over an industrial communication protocol like Ethernet/IP, Profinet, or IO-Link. With an industrial access control reader one can control access to HMIs, PLCs, and various control systems by verifying the user and generating access to the appropriate controls. This extra layer of security also ensures operator accountability by identifying the user.
Machine Tool ID
RFID has been used in machining centers for decades. However, it was used mostly in heavier scale operations where there were acres of machines and hundreds of tools. At present it’s being used in shops with as few as one machine. The ROI is dependent on the number of tool changes in a shift; not really just the number of machines and the number of tools in the building. The greater the number of tool changes, the greater the risk of data input errors, tool breakage, and even a crash.
Since RFID is ideal for reading through cardboard and plastic, it is commonly used to verify the contents of a container. Tags are fixed to the key items in the box, like a battery pack or bag of hardware, and passed through a reader to verify their presence. If, in this case, two tags are not read at the last station then the box can be opened and furnished with the missing part before it ships. This prevents an overload on aftersales support and ensures customers get what they ordered.
While RFID is still frequently used to address Work in Process (WIP), asset tracking, and logistics applications, the number of alternative applications involving RFID has skyrocketed because of an increase in demand for actionable data. Manufacturing organizations throughout the globe have standardized on RFID as a solution in cases where accountability, reliability and quality are critical.