In addition to RFID Auto-ID technology, sensors play a key role in the Industry 4.0 world. Real objects must be clearly identifiable for correlation in the virtual world and sensors must be able to monitor various conditions affecting them. Researchers at Fraunhofer IPMS have combined both, thereby linking the two technologies of automatic object identification and wireless acquisition of temperature, inclination, humidity and other sensor-provide data.
RFID systems often bound to manufacturer
Because some RFID technology currently found in today's industrial processes are often manufacturer-bound, hardware alone cannot solve the problem. Fraunhofer IPMS Head of Wireless Microsystems Frank Deicke explains, “Companies with RFID technologies already integrated in their processes repeatedly face limitations due to being tied to specific manufacturers. Some components are unable to assimilate over diverse frequencies and manufacturers and therefore cannot be connected to the superordinate control system or cloud services without investing strong integration efforts.” RFID middleware based on the OPC UA – Auto-ID companion specification provides a solution for simplified system integration.
According to Dr. Deicke, RFID sensor system applications are typically found in areas relying on wireless measured value acquisition and data transfer. Such areas of application can include monitoring the temperature of goods moving along the logistics chain, the mechanical conditions placed on rotating components of machine tools, or the moisture and temperature levels in hard-to-reach or harsh environments.
Blockchain as data storage concept
Global business and industry demands today exceed simply collecting and processing data. Modern production processes involve numerous manufacturers, logistics companies and other participants. Often, data from manufacturing and delivery processes needs to be shared among partners across the entire supply chain. Blockchain technology offers a transparent and tamper-proof approach currently under research.
Visitors to the Hannover Messe can view both blockchain technology demonstrated through a production process, as well as various RFID sensors and the OPC UA RFID middleware ROAD server at Booth A11 in Hall 9.