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Radio Frequency Identification products for industrial applications

Rockwell Automation has announced a new line of Allen-Bradley Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) products designed specifically for industrial applications. The new 56RF system - based on the open 13,56MHz I-Code standard - delivers a rugged plant floor RFID solution for both tracking and real-time localised data storage, with seamless data communication from shop floor to enterprise systems. What is more, its use of an open standard provides much more flexibility for expansion and integration.

In today's global market, manufacturers are challenged more than ever to reduce costs and improve quality to stay competitive. At the same time, new regulations that impact business procedures - especially in the plant floor or process environment - must be factored into those efforts. In some cases the tracking of product genealogy and history may also be required to meet evolving regulations.

Industrial Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems have emerged as a rugged and reliable way to track and document products as they move through the manufacturing process. Unlike barcode systems used for similar, less demanding applications, industrial RFID systems are designed to withstand harsh environments. Plus, reusable read/write tags allow for flexibility in information and application.

Designed to address these needs, the modular 56RF system comprises Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock(r) interfaces, transceivers (read/write heads) in sensor housings and a wide selection of re-usable data carrier tags in different styles for standard and special environments. Flexibility and scalability is maximised thanks to the ArmorBlock units offering interfaces for one or two RFID channels, standard I/Os and embedded Ethernet switches with Device Level Ring (DLR) function in order to save wiring and installation costs. Integration into the Allen-Bradley Logix platform from Rockwell Automation is easy and seamless with new add-on profiles (AOP) and integrated EDS files, which help to reduce start up times and get production up and running much faster.

"Providing real time asset management information directly to the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture is a growing requirement for customers challenged with mandated process changes or cost reductions," explains Udo Fuger, European Product Manager Sensing, RFID & Connectivity, EMEA at Rockwell Automation. "A complete EtherNet/IP line of decentralized ArmorBlock modules offers highly reliable, easy to implement and cost effective integration of plant floor information from 'work in process' or unconnected assets."

Four rugged transceiver styles are available (40x40, 80x90, M12 and M18) designed for industrial locations, all using high-frequency 13,56MHz I-Code to ISO15693 and ISO18000-3 M1. A wide selection of reusable data carriers (Tags) - designed for industrial environments - is also available, from 128Byte up to 2kB; with read/write distances up to 170mm, depending on the tag size.

Applications suggested by Rockwell Automation that will benefit from this new system include: asset tracking; tracking of "RTI's" (Rturnable Transport Items); tracking and tracing of raw material, parts, trays, bins, work piece carriers, tooling and containers; intelligent object routing and sorting; in-Line RFID system for slap and ship; automotive body assembly, paint- and body shops; AGV guidance; food bins and container tracking; and mould- and press tool handling.
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