Automotive manufacturing has a history of leading factory automation innovation and the recent trend to adopt ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID is the latest example. For decades, factory automation has evolved from straightforward mechanized tasks that were previously done by hand, through the revolutionary phase of robots with highly configurable control systems implemented with computers and programmable industrial controllers (PLC), to the widespread automation of data collection and real time processing needed to implement modern processes like Lean manufacturing or Just in Time manufacturing.
Bar codes have enabled automatic data collection which has led to enormous efficiency gains for both supply chain and assembly line processes; however, bar codes require line of sight, short read distances and they are hard to use on fabricated metal parts. High frequency (HF) RFID also poses limitations of very short read distance which makes it impractical for use on large assemblies and body panels. UHF RFID is currently being adopted by automotive manufacturers in areas where bar codes and HF RFID just don’t work, and other manufacturing segments will likely follow.
UHF RFID Tracks Automotive Body Panels
Recent news coverage noted automotive manufacturing plants in Germany and the USA using UHF RFID on assembly lines for WIP (work in progress) tracking of fabricated metal parts (body panels). SICK readers are used at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Germany and Turck readers are used in USA factories.
Turck promoted the use of UHF RFID to track automotive body panels in their booth at RFID Journal Live in Orlando earlier this month, which is also evidence that UHF RFID is gaining interest in industrial automation. Body panels are usually large in size and subjected to harsh conditions that make it difficult to use bar codes or HF RFID for automatic data collection. Durable UHF tags can operate through acid washes, paint and high temperature baking; these tags can also be read several meters without line of sight, which enables automatic data collection at every process step on a production line. This visibility is critical to “Lean” or “Just in Time” manufacturing processes especially on automotive production lines because of the process complexity and high SKU count. UHF Gen2 RFID is the only practical technology that can provide end-to-end automatic data collection for WIP tracking and real time processing on automotive production lines.
UHF Gen2 RFID is likely to have a long-term home in automotive manufacturing due to the obvious value that the technology is bringing to the industry. The automotive industry has traditionally led in manufacturing innovation, so watch for UHF RFID to quickly expand into other industrial manufacturing sectors.
Come back soon to read more about the rapid adoption of UHF RFID in other areas of automotive manufacturing, particularly in tracking RTI containers (returnable transport items).
We talked with Bob Mills, General Manager of Kirk Rudy, at RFID Journal Live! 2013. Kirk Rudy was founded in 1967 and specializes in encoding and verification systems as well as feeders, transports and conveyors for the printing and packaging industries.
The company demonstrated their high-speed hang tag encoding system which is powered by the Impinj STP 2.0 source tagging platform. Using hang tags provided by FineLine Technologies with SMARTRAC inlays powered by Impinj Monza 5 chips, the machine runs at an impressive 600 feet per minute and is able to encode up to 75,000 Monza-based tags per hour.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about this system.
Imagine being personally greeted by a rock star, seeing a giant encouraging video clip from family members during a marathon or receiving your favorite drink immediately upon entering your regular bar? Businesses are bringing these dreams to reality with the help of RFID. From haunted houses to sports tournaments, the technology is improving many different types of experiences.
How does it work? RFID cards given to guests contain a unique ID number that links to information stored in a database. When a visitor comes in range of an RFID reader, the information is retrieved triggering personalized greetings, messages and videos. Keep reading for some cool examples of companies succeeding with this concept.
RFID Wows Guests with Personalized Videos, Messages
At the New York City Marathon, ASICS took advantage of ChronoTrack’s RFID timing infrastructure and used the technology to display personal messages to runners. Several months before the race, friends and family members could submit encouraging videos to the ASICS Support Your Marathoner service. Messages are linked to each runner and the unique ID contained in the RFID tag. As runners pass certain points along the course, RFID readers register their tag and their personal video is displayed on a 20-foot LED screen.
The Apollo Agency, a Montreal event management firm, is using RFID to spice things up at functions and parties. At one event featuring a local band, guests were personally greeted by the lead singer. Prior to the event, guests registered online and included information such as preferred language. Upon arrival, each person was given an RFID card linked to their registration details in the back-end system. The band’s lead singer prerecorded messages greeting party guests by name in either French or English. Attendees heard their personal greeting when they passed by a designated RFID reader.
The Nest Haunted House takes advantage of RFID to personally spook visitors. If guests opt-in to the system, during the tour they will see a tombstone with their name and birthdate, view projected images of themselves and friends bloodied and zombie-like, and hear their name called out by actors.
Guests Receive Ultimate VIP Treatment with RFID
Manhattan’s 13th Street Entertainment, parent company of a restaurant, a club and a lounge, is testing an RFID system that creates a more personal experience for VIP guests. At the three businesses’ shared building, readers installed at entrances register customers carrying RFID-powered loyalty cards. The card’s unique ID is linked to the individual’s information on the server, such as name, photo, favorite food and reservation information. Staff members with mobile devices are updated when a new VIP guest enters. Staff can greet customers by name, ready their favorite drink and take them to their preferred table. 13th Street Entertainment chose RFID because it is effective and discreet – allowing the company to don personal treatment without disrupting VIP customers with questions.
During a PGA TOUR, RFID was used to improve fan experience. Special entrance tickets given to VIP guests contained RFID tags which, when in range of a reader, activated personal greetings flashed on a big screen.
The examples above show that RFID is sure to bring excitement to a wide variety of events, creating happy customers and happy businesses. Please contact Impinj if you are interested in learning if RFID can improve your guest’s experience.
Solos Identificazione e Protezione is a leading Italian system integrator with solutions for applications including retail, logistics, anti-counterfeit and track and trace. When fashion brand Patrizia Pepe adopted Solos’ Powered by Impinj solution, warehouse processing efficiency doubled. Solos CEO Alessandro Vivarelli joined Impinj for a Q&A.
What are the emerging applications and markets for RFID technology in Italy?
From our standpoint there are three main markets which represent a concrete opportunity for RFID technologies in Italy: logistics, the fashion industry and asset tracking.
Logistics is nothing new. However, RFID has been growing steadily during the last few years and we forecast this trend to continue for the near future.
The fashion industry represents a key asset for the Italian economy and it has been experiencing a deep change recently. The shopping experience is especially affected by this change because of an increasing user-generated demand for in-store technologies. RFID is already involved in it, and can soon have a leading role in this transformation process.
Asset tracking is not easy in Italy for many reasons, including some morphologic aspect of our country and the lack of technological infrastructure in transportation (e.g., railways). This is widely seen as a big issue for the Italian economy. Tracking technologies, RFID included, have already been identified as viable solutions.
What solutions does Solos Identificazione have for these applications?
Our company is considered one of the leading solution providers in all three of those application areas. We have developed over time a solid network of partners through which we are now able to deliver a 360 degree range of solutions not only for the markets mentioned above, but for tracing, counterfeiting and grey market control too, just to name a few. In particular, we have been developing since a long time a unique experience for customers who need to add interactivity and software integration into their retail stores and showrooms.
Can you tell us about a recent deployment?
Our flagship cutting edge RFID solution is with no doubts our order entry showroom’s (in-store) environment. We provide an out-of-the-box solution, which includes RFID enabled labels combined with a wide range of reading devices, such as multitouch tables and tablet computers including the Apple iPad. This allows an unparalleled straightforward shopping experience for a store’s showroom customers. In the same market, we also offer a high-end solution, which allows fashion brands to introduce extended reality interaction during their sales campaign.
What do you want potential customers to know about RFID?
RFID is a mature technology which allows a wide range of businesses to track and control their end-to-end supply chain. It also gives them the chance to feed their CRM and ERP with a massive amount of data with the warranty of a short investment break-even.
Alessandro Vivarelli is the CEO of Solos Identificazione e Protezione. He has worked in the security industry since 1994. Mr. Vivarelli earned a degree from I.T.I.S. Tullio Buzzi in 1986.
Balaji Suresh, the materials manager at the Climate, Controls and Security (CCS) division of United Technologies Corp., was one of many satisfied end users at RFID Journal LIVE! CCS provides heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration technology for residential housing. Named by IndustryWeek as the one of the nation’s top ten manufacturing plants, CCS’ Collierville, Tennessee facility uses RFID to track component assembly and shipment of finished goods in order to improve efficiency, safety and quality of their assembly line and shipping processes.
S3Edge, a leading provider of RFID-based tracking solutions, worked with CCS to provide the RFID solution, and chose to use Microsoft BizTalk RFID middleware. The solution utilized a variety of products including Impinj Speedway Revolution readers and Smartrac ShortDipole wet inlays with built-in Impinj Monza 5 chips. To deploy the solution, workers installed Speedway Revolution readers equipped with two antennas at each of the plant’s assembly lines, and at each shipping dock door. Metal carts transporting contents were tagged with passive RFID tags.
According to Suresh, tagged items are monitored by readers throughout the assembly line. In addition, when items are transported out of the plant via a forklift, readers mounted above the dock doors detect the units that are leaving. The forklift driver is able to view the read results, which show what the forklift is carrying, along with a confirmation if all units meet shipping criteria. Staff members can use handheld readers to detect any missing items.
During his presentation, Suresh reported that since the installation in September 2011, there has been significant reduction of hazards, as staff members no longer have to monitor items to be shipped in high traffic areas. Additionally, he’s seen a 33% improvement in productivity and an 80-90% reduction in errors. CCS saw a return on its investment in less than 2 years.
After a successful 10-week pilot at a Toronto supermarket in 2012, Moxie Retail is now ready to roll out its short-term RFID solution with Canadian retailers. The technology was developed for Moxie by the Academia RFID Centre of Excellence, and is designed to help retailers track which displays generate the most customer interest, the customer dwell time at displays, and which items are then purchased.
For the pilot, MPI Label Systems developed special RFID tags, encasing Smartrac ShortDipole M5 inlays (powered by Impinj Monza 5 chips) in plastic and foam to improve on-metal readability. Academia and Moxie Retail then tagged all shopping baskets and metal-wire carts, and mounted 25 Impinj Speedway Revolution four-port RFID readers, Antenna Hub multiplexers, and 150 Motorola reader antennas on product shelves and counters throughout the store.
As shoppers moved around the store, the Speedway readers captured location data from the baskets’ and carts’ tags. Academia middleware received and interpreted the location data, and communicated that data to Moxie Retail’s software. Moxie Retail’s software was then able to analyze location data in comparison with the products in that area, and provide information to the retailer about which products were generating the most customer interest and dwell time.
The retailer was able to use Moxie Retail software to analyze the relationship between the customer’s route through the store, where and how long the customer paused, and what he or she ended up purchasing.
The retailer plans to return the Moxie Retail system to the store to see how the store’s rearranged displays have impacted shoppers’ store routes and subsequent purchases.
Moxie Retail intends to market its solution worldwide, and may even choose to offer it on a permanent basis to certain retailers. Using the Moxie Retail temporary solution is cheaper for retailers than installing a permanent system, but there are many advantages to long-term installation. For instance, stores could set up software to give alerts based on read data, such as an alert to put another employee on checkout duty if a lot of carts and baskets go into motion within a short period of time.
Learn more about Moxie Retail’s RFID-enabled solution in the full article.
The Speedway xArray is a game-changing reader system optimized for wide-area monitoring. When ceiling-mounted at fifteen-feet high, Speedway xArray utilizes its beam-forming antenna array to monitor tags within a 40-foot diameter in real-time. The xArray can distinguish 52 different antenna beams which radiate a linear pattern in both the horizontal and vertical paths providing tag direction and real-time location assignment. The Speedway xArray is optimized to read many thousands of tags very quickly, and can differentiate tags of interest from the rest of the field.
An Impinj demo at RFID Journal LIVE! gave the industry a first taste of the Speedway xArray reader system’s incredible capability. Staff wore RFID tags inside Impinj’s 30 by 50 foot booth which was monitored by a single xArray mounted overhead. Each staff person’s location and movement was tracked on a large screen as the xArray located their position within the booth in real-time.
Speedway xArray is an exciting new development in the RFID world, as it is the first product designed for wide-area monitoring applications while maintaining backwards compatibility with portal applications.
Interested in the Speedway xArray? Read more here.
Impinj will showcase GrandPrix™, the industry’s only complete RFID platform, at the 11th Annual RFID Journal Live Conference and Exhibition from April 30-May 2, 2013 in Orlando, FL. The GrandPrix platform is comprised of market-leading Impinj products, including Monza® tag chips, Speedway® readers and Indy® reader chips. Used together, these products provide a solution that performs better, is more reliable and less costly than any other, and truly maximizes the potential of the Gen 2 standard. We invite you to join us in Booth #204 to See How We Innovate!
Best in Show Finalists: Indy RS500 Reader SiP and Speedway xArray reader system
Stop by our booth to check out two new products which were named finalists for RFID Journal’s “Best in Show” Award:
The Indy RS500 SiP is a completely integrated reader solution in a small surface mount package that enables fast time-to-market with low development risk. Building on the market-leading Indy reader chip technology, the Indy RS500 SiP only needs three connections (DC power, UART communication and an antenna) to start reading tags. Unlike embedded reader chip solutions that require greater investment due to complexity in RF design, manufacturing and certification, the Indy RS500 has no external components, is fully tested and meets regulatory requirements. The Indy RS500 is designed to work as a SMT (surface mount technology) component in a standard PCB manufacturing process, which eliminates costly mechanical hardware and RF cables that are typically required with reader modules on the market today. Learn more.
The Speedway xArray is a game-changing RFID reader system—the first product designed to meet the requirements for wide-area monitoring applications while maintaining backwards compatibility with portal applications. The Speedway xArray system provides wide-area monitoring through its beam-forming antenna array, which delivers full power throughout a 40 foot diameter when ceiling-mounted at 15 feet high. The xArray system can distinguish 52 different antenna beams providing for location assignment within the read zone, and the antennas radiate a linear pattern in both the horizontal and vertical paths in order to read tags in any orientation. The reader itself is optimized to read many thousands of tags very quickly, and to distinguish tags of interest from the rest of the field .. Moreover, Impinj has added robust tag direction capability that has been proven accurate even in difficult, real world environments. Learn more.
Listen to Presentations – Powered by Impinj
Interested in hearing great case studies of solutions powered by Impinj or learning more about embedded RFID? Be sure to attend one of the presentations below:
April 30, 10:00am: Embedded RFID Preconference Workshop featuring Shahrokh Shahidzadeh, Sr. Principal Technologist, Intel and Chris Diorio, Impinj co-founder and CTO.
April 30, 5:45pm: How EADS Group Manages RFID Change featuring speakers from Airbus, Eurocopter, Astrium and Cassidian.
May 1, 8:30am: How Carrier Made Excellent Manufacturing Even Better With RFID. Manufacturing plant deploys RFID system to create an automated shipping and component verification solution in a high-volume and high-velocity environment.
May 1, 10:45am: Embedded RFID Adds Value to Consumer Electronics. Shahrokh Shahidzadeh of Intel describes how embedded RFID technology enables a variety of game-changing applications.
May 1, 1:30pm: Update on the Veterans Health Administration Enterprise-wide RTLS Deployment. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rolls out an enterprise-wide RTLS for its Veterans Health Administration (VHA) division.
May 1, 1:30pm: A Business-Driven Enterprise Architecture Approach to Transformation. Bell Helicopter maximizes business results and the benefits offered by RFID technology.
May 1, 1:30pm: How American Apparel Leverages RFID at Stores and in Its Supply Chain. American Apparel’s RFID solution enables the company to benefit from 99.8 percent inventory accuracy, reduced shrinkage, high employee morale and more.
May 1, 3:10pm: ATK Uses RFID to Create. ATK, an aerospace, defense, and commercial products manufacturing company, uses RFID to improve process efficiency.
May 1, 4:00pm: RFID Improves Management of Emergency Medicine Kits. The pharmacy department of the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) employs an RFID solution to help stock emergency medication kits used throughout the hospital.
May 1, 4:00pm: Mexican Department Store Chain Uses RFID to Improve Order Management and Inventory Accuracy. Liverpool Department store and 2,300 of its suppliers improve shipping, management, and inventory with RFID.
May 2, 9:00am: Richardson, Texas Police Department Uses RFID to Track Critical Assets. Police department tracks assets with RFID solution to improve police equipment security.
May 2, 10:30am: 2013 RFID Journal Award Finalists Presentations
May 2, 1:00pm: 2013 RFID Journal Awards
Join the Fun!
Party at The Pub – Stop by the Impinj booth to pick up your VIP pass to the Impinj and SMARTRAC party on May 1 from 5:30-7:30pm! The event will be held at The Pub at Pointe Orlando. Dinner, drinks, and beer from the RFID-powered pour-your-own-beer wall will be available! RSVP.
Powered by Impinj Booths – look for the Powered by Impinj shield throughout the show floor and stop in to learn more about innovative solutions built around our leading technology.
UHF Badge Contest – visit the Impinj, SimplyRFID and Zebra booths to see videos captured of you and enter this RFID-enabled contest with a grand prize worth $500.
Live Walk-Through of Show Floor – Not attending the show? Join us on May 2 at 11am EDT for a live video walk-through of the Impinj demonstrations and the show floor. Visit our Google Plus page to view the footage or sign up to have the direct link delivered to your inbox.
Nissan Europe is utilizing an RFID-enabled solution to promote products at car shows via social media. RFID company dwinQ provided the system to TBWA/BEING, Nissan’s creative partner, who then integrated the system into Nissan displays into numerous events including the Paris Motor Show, a private Leaf Tour, the Geneva International Motor Show and the Paris International Marathon.
The system is made up of RFID-tagged badges and a combination of readers by Impinj, ThingMagic and MPI Label Systems. Read data is collected by dwinQ software, and is forwarded to the user’s selected social network.
How It Works
At the Paris Motor Show, attendees arrived at the Nissan booth and were invited to participate in a variety of interactive activities, and share their experiences on Facebook or Twitter. Those interested entered their social media login information on an iPad. Each person’s specific login information was then linked to the unique ID number encoded on his or her RFID-enabled badge.
Individuals then proceeded through twelve RFID reader stations offering various photo booths and games. At one station, a touch screen led the visitors through a series of steps to take and superimpose a picture of them on the cover of Elle magazine, promoting Nissan’s Micra Elle car model. An RFID reader read each person’s tagged badge, dwinQ’s social-media platform linked the appropriate badge ID number with the user’s social media account, and then posted the photo update on his or her page.
At RFID-enabled kiosks displaying information about new Nissan cars, visitors were invited to swipe their badges at nearby readers and then press “like.” The kiosk’s information and picture were then posted on visitors’ Facebook or Twitter pages.
Other stations gave attendees the opportunity to design their own cars, create their own sounds for the Leaf electric car, or take their photo in a Nissan NV200 and then share it all on social media via RFID.
Nissan used a smaller version of the solution during last year’s Leaf Tour in six Scandinavian cities. Each person signed up, received a RFID card linked to his or her social media login information, and then got into a Nissan Leaf. He or she tapped their card near a reader inside the car, which prompted the system to record a 15-second video of the user in the car, and post it on his or her social networking site.
At the Geneva Motor Show in March, Nissan used the dwinQ solution, which consisted of 17 “sharing stations”, equipped with RFID readers, and provided the same types of picture and game experiences as those offered at the Paris event.
The dwinQ system was also used by Nissan at the Paris Marathon’s Runners Expo. Participants took pictures of themselves, superimposed to appear to be wearing NASCAR uniforms, and then shared them with their Facebook and Twitter followers via Dwinq’s RFID system.
The dwinQ RFID solution has provided an interactive and fun experience for attendees at trade shows, and has utilized those same attendees to market the Nissan brand. At the Paris Motor Show alone, it is estimated that the Nissan message reached a total of 400,000 social-network members. dwinQ estimates that for each person who uses its social-media solution, the message reaches 500-800 people.
The Richardson Police Department (RPD) of Texas is currently using an RFID-enabled asset-tracking solution to verify that all uniforms and squad car equipment are in place at the start and end of each shift.
The RPD began using RFID in September 2011, as part of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded initiative to track uniforms to ensure that they do not end up in the wrong hands. The Richardson Police Department realized that it made sense to expand the initiative to track all police gear. For assistance with this project, RPD turned to RFID solution developer GlobeRanger, who helped the police department find the best tags for its application.
GlobeRanger used washable UHF RFID laundry tags on uniforms, and chose to tag other RPD assets with a variety of Xerafy UHF EPC Gen 2 tags, due to their superior read-on-metal capabilities. The Titanium Metal Skin RFID label powered by Impinj’s Monza 5 chip proved ideal for tracking handguns and other metallic items requiring discreet tags, due to its small size (1.77 x 0.22 x 0.03 in.), 128 bits of user memory, and ability to be printed with a barcode or readable text.
How It Works
Each officer reports to the RPD quartermaster station to collect and return his or her uniform and equipment at the start and end of each shift. When the officer presents his or her ID card, it is read by an HF reader. The employee’s information then pops up on a computer screen, displaying the person’s role and necessary gear. The quartermaster then pulls the listed items from inventory and places them on a GlobeRanger smart table, powered by an Impinj Speedway Revolution reader. The smart table automatically reads the unique ID encoded to each item’s tag, and updates the data in the computer to show that those items have been checked out by that employee. When an officer returns from a shift, he or she again places the items on the smart table, the Speedway reader reads the tags, the inventory is automatically updated via Globeranger’s GR-AWARE PD software, and the quartermaster returns them to storage.
Patrol officers also use Motorola handhelds powered by Impinj Indy RFID reader chips to take inventory of the equipment within their cars. The data from the readers is automatically uploaded to the GR-AWARE software, updating the chain-of-custody record to track which officer last had each specific piece of equipment. Previously these inventory processes, which included documenting the serial numbers of each piece of equipment manually, took a total of 30 minutes per shift—now they are done automatically.
The system has reduced inventory time by 30 minutes per shift—time that policemen can now use to patrol the streets. The system is also saving the department an estimated $9,000 per car per year in terms of labor costs and improved efficiencies. Additionally and perhaps most importantly, the police department uniforms and assets are accurately tracked and stored, preventing potentially dangerous misuse of RPD assets, and making the city of Richardson a little bit safer.