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The increasing discussions and regulations on complete traceability and reliable identification of products is making identification systems an inevitable part in manufacturing. There are two specific technologies that are very well received: One critique of RFID is the market maturity regarding practicability and price-performance ratio is not reached yet.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the wrong decision could have costly consequences. The technology you choose will mainly depend on the object being identified.
The decision will be based off of size, shape and the environmental conditions. A Data Matrix Code is a two-dimensional data point pattern that has a variable, rectangular size in the form of a matrix.
It is a binary code that is interpreted with zeros and ones and can hold up to 1, bytes. The data storage area is inside the symbol. This machine-readable coding form was invented to encode higher amounts of data in smaller areas compared to 1D code. Camera scanners can already reliably read dot patterns of only 2mm by 2mm. Thus DMC is suitable for very small products or round surfaces where there is little room for marking on the product.
With the technology of DMC you can place a lot of information in a very small area. Article or batch numbers, manufacturing or expiration dates as well as other important manufacturing data can be stored permanently on the work piece across all processing steps.
A particular strength also lies in the fact that the code can be directly applied to a part without a label using different printing or embossing methods. It can be needled, lasered or printed with inkjet or thermal transfer printing. It works with various materials: As it is not possible to read a DMC with linear barcode scanners, you have to use camera-based image processing systems that are more expensive.
In addition, it is imperative that the entire surface not just a part of it is decoded, because the arrangement of the modules on the surface determines the contained data.
The angle at which the camera is mounted can also play a role. Last but not least, the location of the DMC or its attachment determines whether it is readable or not. A hidden DMC cannot be read by the cameras. Even if there is a line of sight you can read the DMC only within a specific reading distance. This technology makes it possible to identify every item that is equipped with an RFID data carrier contactless and unambiguously.
The reader generates a weak electromagnetic field via its antenna. If you bring a tag into this magnetic field, the microchip of the tag is supplied with energy and can send data without contact to the reader or store new information on the chip. If the tag leaves the magnetic field, the connection to the reader breaks off and the chip is inactive again. The stored data will remain in the tag memory. RFID tags are available in many different designs, it can be just a simple adhesive tag but also a hard tag as a disc, bolt or glass tag.
Only a few millimeter tags can be used for tool identification and very large transponders for container identification. These features open up completely new possibilities that DMC cannot provide. RFID tags can also be read with the greatest possible contamination as no visual contact is needed. With the rewritability of the tags you have the chance to change, delete or supplement the data on the chip — at any time.
Once an RFID system is integrated into a process, the system can be run with just minimal human participation. For a new order, the new information is written automatically on the tag. This can be up to kbyte of data on a single tag. The detection of RFID-equipped parts happens within less than a second, much faster than using a barcode. This leads to reduced administrative errors, increased transparency and significant increase of speed.
With RFID, even after a post-treatment, parts can be tracked down for a lifetime. Every production step can be documented, read and written directly on the RFID tag in or on the part.
RFID also has some disadvantages. Depending on the used frequency, physical conditions are often the reason for issues. For example, metal containers or contents made of metal can create problems or even non-readings as metals reflect and shield. Products with a high proportion of water absorb radio waves and it could cause the reader to not detect certain objects. Another sore point is the cost. RFID tags are always more expensive than a DMC because even with a large amount, the integrated antenna and the transponder must be paid.
However, with having almost unlimited read and write capabilities, the higher initial acquisition costs pay off over the time with tens of thousands of uses of the tags — at least with closed-loop applications.
The application determines which frequency you should choose. As Low Frequency LF systems only have a moderate sensitivity for potential metallic reflections they are designed for applications where the tag has to be mounted flush in metal, for example, with tool identification. High Frequency HF systems score with a high transmission speed for large volumes of data and are therefore ideal for work in progress WIP applications.
As all tags can be read out almost simultaneously in the read range of a reader, UHF systems are ideal for detecting complete pallet loads. Ultimately, the decision to opt for one or the other technology is always a case-by-case decision.
Here are some fundamental questions you can ask yourself in order to choose the right one:. Sometimes it may be beneficial to have a combination of both technologies. Thanks to the special technology, goods can be identified even when packaged. In addition, all relevant process data can be stored on the RFID data carrier and offer added value throughout the value chain. To learn more about RFID technology, please visit www.
IO-Link as a standard for device level communication has been around for over a decade. Due to this huge market demand for IO-Link, there has been an insurgence of IO-Link masters with features and functionality that is dazzling machine builders and end users alike. While IO-Link as a communication platform is a standard IEC , the added features and functions leave some machine builders confused on how to reap benefits of these different masters that are around.
On the other hand, some machine builders are spending too much time in measuring and testing a variety of masters — wasting precious time and materials to identify what fits best for their solution. With this blog post and my next, I am hoping to add some clarity on how to detect differences quickly amongst the masters and make a decision that is best suitable for the applications at hand.
IO-Link started out as a standard of communications for smart sensors with a focus to eliminate variety of different interfaces on the plant floor- but since its inception it has manifested itself to be much more than simple sensor integration. It has also gained significance as a backbone for enabling Industry 4.
The very first thing machine builders have to do is determine whether the IO-Link master should be IP20 in cabinet implementation or IP rated machine mounted implementation. The machine mounted version makes sense as it is suitable for most industrial environments.
The IP20 version may be desirable if the machine is operating in extreme environments or experiences continuous changes in temperature, humidity and other factors. The difference could appear based on whether the IO-Link master is a part of a larger system or stand-alone module connected to the machine controller through one of the fieldbus or network gateway.
One more thing to note about IP20 masters is they are meant for connecting 3-pin IO-Link devices only. If you want to use architectural benefits of having added Vaux separate output power then using IP20 masters becomes complicated and quickly becomes expensive. If the initial features of machine mounted masters are appealing to you, then there are a few more decisions to be made. There are primarily three different types of masters as shown below in the chart and they differ based on the power routing capabilities and power handling capabilities.
We will go over more technical details in my next blog part 2 to see how power routing and current capabilities make a difference between sensor only applications and a total architecture solution. To learn more about IO-Link masters, visit www. Digitizing the production world in the age of Industry 4. Sensors are the eyes and ears of automation technology, without which there would be no data for such a cross-level flow of information.
They are at the scene of the action in the system and provide valuable information as the basis for implementing modern production processes. This in turn allows smart maintenance or repair concepts to be realized, preventing production scrap and increasing system uptime. This digitizing begins with the sensor itself.
Digitizing requires intelligent sensors to enrich equipment models with real data and to gain clarity over equipment and production status. In addition to data for service life, load level and damage detection environmental information such as temperature, contamination or quality of the alignment with the target object is required. This photoelectric sensor offers these benefits. Along with the switching signal, it also uses IO-Link to provide valuable information about the sensor status or the current ambient conditions.
This versatile sensor uses red light and lets you choose from among four sensor modes: These four sensing principles are the most common in use all over the world in photoelectric sensors and have proven themselves in countless industrial applications. In production this gives you additional flexibility, since the sensor principles can be changed at any time, even on-the-fly.
Very different objects can always be reliably detected in changing operating conditions. Inventory is also simplified. Instead of four different devices, only one needs to be stocked. Sensor replacement is easy and uncomplicated, since the parameter sets can be updated and loaded via IO-Link at any time.
Intelligent sensors are ideal for use with IO-Link and uses data retention to eliminate cumbersome manual setting. All the sensor functions can be configured over IO-Link, so that a remote teach-in can be initiated by the controller. New diagnostics functions also represent a key feature of an intelligent sensor. The additional sensor data generated here lets you realize intelligent maintenance concepts to significantly improve system uptime. An operating hours counter is often built in as an important aid for predictive maintenance.
The light emission values are extremely helpful in many applications, for example, when the ambient conditions result in increased sensor contamination.
These values are made available over IO-Link as raw data to be used for trend analyses. A good example of this is the production of automobile tires. If the transport line of freshly vulcanized tires suddenly stops due to a dirty sensor, the tires will bump into each other, resulting in expensive scrap as the still-soft tires are deformed.