Intelligent packaging is on the rise. The implementation of RFID technology in the packaging industry is becoming increasingly important especially in terms of information, identification and security. Although it is easy to identify packages and their contents, read product information and to provide verification and evaluation, things become difficult when various RFID components from different manufacturers are left to communicate with each other. In cases in which these components require further integration with optical identification methods such as barcode reader systems, users are faced with substantial complexity, extensive implementation times and considerable cost.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS has therefore developed the universal RFID-OPC-US-AutoID Server (ROAD-server) software solution. This middleware provides for easy and cost efficient integration of various readers, tags and sensor technology in complex process environments regardless of manufacturer, frequency band, protocol and interface. As the first middleware of its kind, the ROAD-server implements the OPC UA (unified Architecture Open Platform Communication) AutoID companion specification to provide manufacturer-independent communication in automation technology.
Initially used only for RFID components, the Dresden-based research team led by Professor Dr. Dirk Reichelt has now extended the ROAD-server to include the integration of 1- and 2D barcode technologies. When implemented on the OPC-UA interface basis, applications can be further used regardless of changes to the reader- or transponder-population.
Prof. Dr. Reichelt, Fraunhofer IPMS Group Leader for Smart Wireless Production explains, “This is of particularly great interest for the packaging industry. Our software solution enables the easy combination of wireless and optical identification methods. Regardless whether a packet or shipping crate carries a barcode or an RFID-tag, standard reader devices and tags for various frequency ranges can connect and communicate with each other in process constructions over a single standardized interface through the ROAD-server. Integration of further sensor-transponders for reporting physical parameters such as temperature, moisture, light or pressure is also possible.”
Transporting food, medicines or hazardous materials must be rigorously controlled. Moisture and high temperatures inside shipping crates can result in quality deterioration and product decay as well as dangerous situations. Sensor values can be wirelessly read and product characteristics can be examined quickly and safely over integrated RFID-tags without opening the packaging. The integration of additional sensors detecting, for example, limit values is also conceivable.
Fraunhofer IPMS will attend the 2016 FachPack European trade fair for packaging, technology, processing and logistics in Nuremberg from September 27-29, 2016. Visitors can find the ROAD-server exhibition and demonstration at the joint Fraunhofer IPMS / AutoID Industrial Association (AIM) booth 4-327.
Lecture: Integration of Standard RFID AutoID Solutions through OPC UA
In addition, Professor Dr. Reichelt, will explain the contribution of AutoID technology to the automating of business processes en route to Industry 4.0 in a lecture entitled “Cleverly packaged: How to efficiently integrate standard RFID AutoID solutions with OPC UA”. The lecture will be held on Thursday, 29. September from 14:30-15:00 at the Forum PackBox in Hall 3A, Booth 315.