In these times of IoT and Industry 4.0, the concept of „system“ is becoming increasingly important. The demand for a global infrastructure, making it possible to connect physical and virtual objects and facilitate the communication between them, is growing. In order to meet these demands, individual machines as well as whole systems will face new requirements. In the future, data will not only be collected, but rather fed automatically into the web through cloud connectivity. There, data will be processed for real-time monitoring. What on the one hand provides a great opportunity of progress toward the “Smart Factory”, presents the need for new, intelligent solutions for the collecting and processing of data on the other. To tackle this problem, Dr. Andreas Weder and his team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden work to develop special RFID sensor solutions for a wide range of applications.
Wireless RFID technology supplemented by sensor components
Due to Industry 4.0 wanting to capture parameters of physical nature, Weder and his team have extended the “current” RFID technology to include additional dimensions. The research work focuses on RFID circuits which allow for the simple integration of analogue and digital sensors coming from different manufacturing sources. Coupled sensors now make it possible to measure physical parameters such as pressure, humidity, vibration or temperature for proper evaluation. Intelligent software solutions also provide for easy integration into existing environments and the control systems at hand.
Weder explains, “With our RFID expertise encompassing ASIC- and antenna design, sensor tag development, and sensor-, system, and cloud-integration, we can provide customer-specific complete solutions. Our services cover the entire value chain from circuit development to software integration in complete industrial applications, focusing on RFID suppliers, equipment manufacturers and systems integrators.
Applications for RFID sensors
At this point in its RFID sensor development, Fraunhofer IPMS is putting emphasis on passive UHF-RFID-solutions. In comparison with HF or LF, UHF provides higher distance ranges. Battery-free systems require no maintenance or power supply, providing for easy integration in various products, machines and objects and broadly diversified application possibilities.
The Fraunhofer IPMS RFID-based solution can identify potential malfunctions and issues threatening plant failure early to prevent future production loss and safety risks. This capability is especially interesting to those in the field of predictive maintenance, servicing and maintaining the condition of machines and buildings alike.
Wireless transmission of physical measured values such as pressure and temperature can also be applied in the life sciences. When tracing and monitoring food, for example, the continuity of the cooling chain or the integrity of vacuum packaging can be documented. The Fraunhofer IPMS RFID sensor technology now allows for such transmission parameters to be recorded, transmitted and presented without interruption.
Other areas of application include moisture measurement during construction, diverse medical applications and sensor control in logistics.
Fraunhofer IPMS will present its various RFID evaluation kits already equipped with sensors at the 2017 “RFID & Wireless IoT tomorrow” conference and exhibition. The event is to be held from 27. to 28. September in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Visitors are welcome to view the Fraunhofer IPMS exhibition at Booth 17. Within the “Developer Days” framework (Session Wireless IoT, Forum2), Dr. Weder will talk about passive RFID sensor transponders in an informative presentation scheduled for 27. September.