RFID on the Production Line
ny manufacturing environments, such as paint ovens, chemical processing, and meat packing, where barcodes simply won't work,' says Bradley Todd, Escort Memory Systems' (EMS) marketing manager. 'RFID tags can also aid enterprise resource planning (ERP)-level decision-making during production by handing off data to other tags further along in a process. For example, tags used to track cattle in a trial project in Argentina can add data to the facility's ERP system and write information to other c
losed-loop tags or barcodes on the packaging.'

Todd adds that Toyota South Africa recently implemented phase two of its RFID vehicle tracking system (VTS), which added EMS' LRP RFID reader-writer antenna and tags to the facility. System integrator EMS SA set up an RFID system that tracks cars through many production stages and final assembly. EMS reports this was an especially significant RFID application because re-useable and disposable tags were used in the same installation.

The first phase installed reusable, high-temperature HMS150 tags, while the second phase implemented LRP-L4982 label tags, which are lower-cost, credit card-sized, disposable paper tags that still have high memory storage characteristics.

'Because RFID tags can be read and written to after each step, any problems can be captured early in the process, which can save a lot of money and time later,' adds Todd.

Future evolution

By itself, RFID appears to have little to do with traditional control and automation. However, aided by databases and other existing information sources, RFID can genuinely aid control and automation, even if it skins that cat indirectly. In fact, upcoming technical advances, such as energy-harvesting, active RFID tags, will likely settle any present arguments by letting the tags serve as wireless transmitters of analog, digital, Ethernet, and/or Internet-based data. 'In the next two or three years RFID tags will likely be combined with temperatures sensors that will be able to c