Drives and Controls Magazine

Industry finds new uses for RFID

01 June, 2006

Industry finds new uses for RFID

The growing importance of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology in industrial engineering could be seen from several developments on show at the recent Hannover Fair. These included:

An RFID read/write system from ifm electronic that plugs into an AS-i network, allowing ID tags to be read, and written to, with just one device. The system - which ifm claims is a first - uses the AS-i master to control the data. It includes a compact read/write head that can read tags up to 20mm away, moving at to 0.5m/s. Power is provided via the AS-i cable.

An RFID-based key selector switch from Schmersal (above) that can be programmed with up to three different authorisation levels, allowing plant personnel to use different keys with different levels of access. For example, an operator could start a machine at reduced speed when a safety guard is open, while a foreman would be allowed to run the system at a higher speed.

Two communications modules from Siemens for connecting RFID read/write devices to Profinet networks. One connects the devices directly to Profinet; the other establishes a connection via the company`s Simatic ET 200pro distributed I/O device. Read/write devices for any RFID system can be operated via the IP67-protected modules.

In another development, Omron has announced that it is investing $20m in its RFID business over two years, and boosting its production of RFID inlays, initially to 250 million a year, and to more than 350 million within 12 months. The company has also developed a new UHF reader technology that, it claims, will extend RFID reading ranges and improve performance.