RFID boosts PCB production

09 February 2018

The PCB industry is faced with multi-layered challenges in the areas of continuous improvement of production processes and the optimisation of quality. Gavin Stoppel, product manager at HARTING, believes that UHF RFID can provide the solution.

UHF RFID-supported PCB routing is already close to achieving the quest for the printed circuit board that can control the entire manufacturing process. The board practically has its own memory and can provide data. However, it can now also store current states and information alongside this information. If the UHF RFID chip is directly embedded in the bare circuit board, it provides internal memory that offers benefits over the board’s entire life cycle.

The UHF RFID chip can also be mounted on the circuit board as a surface-mount component during the placement process. Only minimal space – less than 1cm2 – is needed for the antenna structure traces, in addition to the board’s ground layer.

To achieve this HARTING teamed up with muRata to develop the concept of improved transparency and traceability of circuit boards during the production process and beyond. HARTING acts as a supplier of UHF RFID antennas, readers and software while muRata acts as an industry expert and supplier of printed circuit board transponders.

By enhancing users’ processes with RFID technology, HARTING makes it possible to implement solutions that deliver real profitability gains without the need for re-engineering proven, stable manufacturing processes. For example, RFID sensor networks can be used to collect manufacturing data which is then ‘operationalised’, allowing production lines to be adjusted, maintained, or re-tooled, based on live information. The ability to use this manufacturing data rapidly to inform IoT systems can provide users with a competitive advantage in a complex market.

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