RFID system for manufacturing and process applications

13 September 2011

A new RFID technology, based on Ethernet/IP and open standards, delivers flexibility and ruggedness to demanding industrial applications.

Rockwell Automation has introduced a new line of Allen-Bradley Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) products designed specifically for industrial applications. The 56RF system – based on the open 13,56MHz I-Code standard – delivers a rugged plant floor RFID solution for tracking and real-time localised data storage, with seamless data communication from shop floor to enterprise systems. Its use of an open standard is said to provide more flexibility for expansion and integration.

Manufacturers today are being challenged to reduce costs and improve quality to stay competitive. At the same time, new regulations that impact business procedures – especially in the plant floor or process environment – must be factored into those efforts. In some cases the tracking of product genealogy and history may also be required to meet evolving regulations.

Industrial RFID systems have emerged as a way to track and document products as they move through the manufacturing process. Unlike barcode industrial RFID systems are designed to withstand harsh environments. Plus, reusable read/write tags allow for flexibility in information and application.

Designed to address these needs, the modular 56RF system comprises Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock interfaces, transceivers (read/write heads) in sensor housings and a wide selection of re-usable data carrier tags in different styles for standard and special environments.

“Providing real time asset management information directly to the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture is a growing requirement for customers challenged with mandated process changes or cost reductions," said Udo Füger, european product manager Sensing, RFID & Connectivity, EMEA at Rockwell Automation. "A complete EtherNet/IP line of decentralised ArmorBlock modules offers reliable, easy to implement and cost effective integration of plant floor information from ‘work in process’ or unconnected assets."

Four rugged transceiver styles are available (40x40, 80x90, M12 and M18) designed for industrial locations, all using high-frequency 13,56MHz I-Code to ISO15693 and ISO18000-3 M1. A wide selection of reusable data carriers (Tags) – designed for industrial environments – is also available, from 128Byte up to 2kB; with read/write distances up to 170mm, depending on the tag size.

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