In the future, the factory will have extremely rich information - every device continuously reporting its own state, and the whole production line can be dynamically adjusted. One of the key components of the so-called industrial Internet of things (IIoT) is an unattractive RFID tag, especially for the manufacturing execution system (MES) and supply chain management.
How far will the manufacturers go on the RFID road? Is the cost of it worth paying?
To find out, researchers at the IFF, Fraunhof (Germany and Europe's largest Applied Science Research Institute) factory operation and Automation Research Institute, have done a feasibility study with the Mercedes Benz commercial vehicle company in Ludwig Field's factory near Berlin.
Marc Kujath, a researcher at the Institute, said: "RFID or RFID tags on parts can greatly improve the reliability and efficiency of processes."
Their RFID system is made up of optical scanners and labels on key parts of automobiles. The researchers identified the 40 vehicle parts most suitable for marking, especially mirrors and seats.
Automatic on-line inspection.
There are two important differences between using bar code and using RFID tag to track key parts.
First, barcode only stores identification information, and the RFID tag can contain a history of parts and information about the vehicle to be installed. The second important difference is that the bar code must be read manually, and only one can be read at a time; and the RFID tag can be read at the same time using only one optical scanner, even after the part is installed. Therefore, all information contained in the RFID tag can be easily retrieved in a matter of seconds.
Fraunhof's IFF researchers think this is a key advantage of the automobile manufacturing industry because it allows workers to verify all the parts that must be installed on the front and back axes, such as during the installation process. Before these research results came up, the axles were inspected only when they were finally verified, and the workers needed visual inspection and paper lists.
"RFID tags enable us to improve product transparency," Kujath said.
Improving production scheduling
According to Fraunhof IFF researcher, the transparency brought by RFID label is also conducive to the overall production of Mercedes Benz commercial vehicle. "For example, we reduce the blind spot of production scheduling," Kujath explains. "This means that the project manager is now aware of the obstacles in the production process and is able to make the right questions at the right time. We also take into account their role. Project managers ultimately need more information from different sources than technicians. "
It is reported that next step will involve Daimler's standard test.
RFID in the automotive industry
As is often the case in manufacturing, the question of whether or not to adopt the RFID label in the automotive industry comes down to a key variable: cost. The cost of passive RFID tags ranges from US $0.07 to US $0.15, according to RFID magazine. Obviously, the size of the size is different, but in the car industry, 7 cents per part is not a small number, especially when your profit is meagre.
The price of the RFID label is likely to need only a critical point, such as 5 cents per label, making it an industry standard, but even in this case, it is impossible to label all the parts. However, if the efficiency of the increase exceeds the cost of additional expenses, RFID seems to be no problem.