This week we are providing a video on the challenges of modern manufacturing requiring extreme RFID solutions. In conjunction with our partner OATSystems, we take a close look at a case study involving a large defense and aerospace manufacturer of composite wings.
The manufacturer utilized RFID for work in progress tracking and composite materials managements. The need for extreme RFID was especially great because composite materials with a limited shelf life traveled from freezer storage to high temperature cure environments. Xerafy’s tags, working in unison with OAT’s Foundation Suite software, saved the manufacturer both time and money.
This is only one example of a successful rugged RFID deployment. We know there are many other applications out there and we are interested in hearing how you have deployed rugged RFID to meet your needs.
Next week, Xerafy will announce a contest called “Extreme RFID Challenge” where you can share your most rugged RFID application and compete for prizes. Stay tuned.
As last week’s blog pointed out, RFID usage is expected to take on harsher environments in 2012, driving more extreme vertical application solutions. In this blog, we take a look at the remaining three trends that we predict for RFID metal tags in the coming year.
Healthcare: Going beyond patient monitoring and asset tracking
While implementations of RFID, both Active and Passive technologies, for use in healthcare has been on the rise in the past several years, applications of the technology has generally been relegated to patient tracking and locationing of hospital assets. The use-case emphasis has primarily been on “what, or who, is it” – identification, and “where is it” – locationing; the traditional asset tracking use case premises. However, the management or physical state of each of those assets (or even people) has become the next level, or second phase, of requirements that is becoming more evident. For instance, it is no longer enough to know where the resuscitator cart is, but what is the state of the resuscitation equipment itself… when was it last inspected, cleaned, date of last maintenance or calibration, number is use cycles, state of warranty or service agreement, manufacturer, model number, etc.?
Furthermore, with the introduction of passive UHF RFID tags small and rugged enough to be attached to individual surgical instruments, the extension of asset tracking and asset management capabilities to the granularity of the surgical instruments themselves is now a reality.
Any given medical procedure can require dozens or even hundreds of different surgical instruments, from complex scopes to tiny sponges. Every one of these instruments and sponges must be accounted for both pre-procedure and post procedure for obvious reasons. The time to do the inventorying of assets and instruments both before and after a procedure can sometimes take as long as the procedure itself. Considering the case that the cost of OR time can be between $150 to $400 per minute, reducing the time of inventorying can provide a significant cost reduction to the hospital by allowing them to make more efficient use of limited OR facilities and equipment. The benefit to patients is self-evident. Fast and accurate accounting of surgical instruments utilized in the procedure can reduce the risk of infection. Additional benefits are derived by the fact that many instruments need to be maintained (adjusted, sharpened, etc.) after a specific number of use-case cycles, and that their “state of sterilization” of course, is critical to everyone involved.
High Data Storage Tags: What’s in store for aerospace manufacturers and their parts suppliers
Aircraft manufacturers created high memory RFID standards for flyable aircraft parts – the Aviation Transportation Association Spec2000, Chapter 9 – providing the standard formats for automatic identification and data capture with RFID. This standard is already being used in Airbus’ new A350 XWB (extra-wide body) project, where Airbus has mandated that thousands of pressurized and non-pressurized parts and components use high memory RFID tags.
As this project, as well as other new builds get under way, we expect to see wide scale adoption of high memory RFID in the industry. From maintenance records storage to tracing aircraft parts manufacturing, the types of applications that will require high memory RFID are manifold. These include inventory control, tracking assets without network access, recording high value asset life histories, and sensor recording and monitoring.
Sourcing tagging: Are we ready for the Internet of Things?
As Chris Forgione of OATSystems blogged earlier this year, we will begin to see greater adoption for RFID in Manufacturing, integrated with LEAN/Six Sigma initiatives, as industrial firms look to drive more operational efficiency. There is new emphasis on risk mitigation – for instance, many RFID Tool Tracking projects are deployed not just to reduce costs, but also to avoid quality errors, foreign object debris (FOD) and regulatory fines.
“The ability to embed a small form EPC RFID transponder without sacrificing performance, particularly in metals and plastics, should create significant opportunity in a diversity of markets, from IT asset tracking to WIP to Consumer Electronics and beyond,” says Drew Nathanson, the director of research operations at VDC Research Group. “A high performing embedded EPC tag is expected to not only provide track-and-trace functionality, but also further enable source-tagging and authentication.”
The new year promises to be a big one for extreme RFID solutions. VDC Research, a leading research and consulting firm providing market intelligence, predicted in 2012 RFID will take on harsh environments and find its way into more user environments, driving vertical and application solutions. With an average CAGR of 65 percent, EPC ultra-high frequency transponders looks to outpace high frequency transponders as RFID is adopted by more industries and making significant moves in deployment across markets as diverse as healthcare and energy. Xerafy’s unique focus in this space gives us a vantage point at the top 5 trends for RFID metal tags in 2012. Today we will look at two of them.
MRO: Radical changes to the way maintenance, parts, and even tools are tracked
As RFID tag technology improves, the new generation of rugged metal tags small enough to be attached to individual assets like tools and small critical machine parts will extend RFID into more rugged and extreme environments. Tool tracking for critical work environments (FOD, FME), WIP tracking, plant maintenance, aircraft MRO, cylinder tracking, and life cycle tracking will all require smaller, higher memory, more rugged, embeddable and metal friendly tags.
The technology is now able to deliver significant performance on critical assets in hazardous, higher risk conditions, which has skyrocketed the adoption of RFID for MRO in rugged environments. Companies are now moving beyond simple identification into solutions that create “smart” assets that can carry important product specifications, pedigree, maintenance, installation, supply chain, and other data with them as they move from location to location, throughout the world.
Oil and Gas: RFID Finally Takes Off
As Xerafy partner Holland 1916 recently blogged, the value of RFID is being harnessed by more and more oil and gas companies now that the technology has been proven to meet the extreme applications required by the industry. With tags that can now be embedded into custom carriers and into the assets themselves, the industry is implementing RFID at a record pace.
Moving forward, the industry will increasingly turn to these new ruggedized RFID solutions to provide real-time and accurate visibility to spare parts/components, track critical shipments of components and supplies to off-shore oil platforms, improve visibility of supply chain, elevate efficiencies in tracking processes, better manage and maintain their rental assets, and keep strict and timely maintenance records on key components to make sure the entire process continues to run smoothly.
In next week’s blog, we’ll take a look at the remaining three trends for RFID metal tags.