UHF making a big impact on manufacturing

RFIDUltra-High Frequency (UHF) RFID is quickly becoming the go-to identification system for flexible manufacturing lines around the world. While it was once considered to be a system designed primarily for distribution centers and retail stores, UHF technology has evolved to meet the rigors of the manufacturing environment.

Not long ago I was in a discussion with one of my customers who had been using RFID for almost 25 years. He was caught in a tough spot because he had an application which required reading tags from as little as six inches away to as far as two feet away. The HF system he had could easily meet his needs for the six inch read range, but reading at two feet away limited him to using UHF. When I explained that, his bewildered look indicated to me he was reluctant to consider UHF as a real option. He went on to explain that about ten years prior he conducted tests in his plant with UHF and found a host of limitations with the technology. His main concern was how the operators’ two-way radios interfered with the UHF operating frequency of 902-928MHz. Having heard this from other manufacturing organizations who were early adopters I knew right away that he wasn’t aware of how the technology has evolved over the last decade.

Frequency hopping has pretty much eliminated interference with other radio signals. In addition to overcoming radio interference, being able to read and write to tags which are mounted on or near metal and liquids has become a reality with recent advancements. These improvements have led to more flexible read ranges which are a requirement in today’s flexible manufacturing applications.

In a nutshell, the demands of flexible manufacturing have spurred advancements in the process as well as the supporting technology. As it applies to identification of parts or pallets in the manufacturing process, the flexibility of UHF RFID enables manufacturers to gain visibility in their process and provides actionable data that is used to make complex business decisions.

You can learn more about the technology in Balluff’s white paper, What Makes RFID Systems Industrial Strength? or by visiting our website at www.balluff.us

UHF – Under Heavy Fire or Ultra High Frequency? Logistically Speaking…

Logistics personnel across the globe have been trying to find a way to better manage their pallets, bins, totes, and all other types of containers. Returnable Transport Units (RTU’s) have been stored in remote corners of warehouses, storage trailers, or a who-knows-where location only to be overlooked and written off. They are replaced time and time again by brand new units. Life as an RTU is much like that of the relief pitcher. They go ignored until they are needed, then they become the most important element in the operation. On the bright side they do get to hang out with all their buddies just sitting around waiting to be called up from the bull pen, or storage trailer out back. The difference is when the Manger of the baseball team needs a reliever he just picks up the phone and rings the bull pen. When the warehouse manager needs RTU’s he has to go searching remote areas of the facility many times resulting in a wild goose chase, a PO request, and a phone call to purchase more.
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