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Industrial RFID Securely Guides Electric Monorail Systems in Automotive Assembly Plants

Pepperl+Fuchs offers more than 20 years of experience in industrial RFID technologies
Pepperl+Fuchs offers more than 20 years of experience in industrial RFID technologies

Electric monorail systems are frequently used to move large items through a plant; automotive assembly plants come to mind immediately. Since monorail systems are ceiling mounted, the floor area remains available for other equipment enabling a compact and clean assembly area. Monorail systems also have the advantage of allowing products to be conveyed at the proper height with respect to the worker, thus increasing ergonomics and productivity.

The products need to be identified automatically as they enter different work zones allowing the manufacturing process to be controlled tightly and efficiently.

Read heads will be installed in each work zone and must interface with the upper-level control network. The entire RFID system must be able to operate in a harsh industrial environment where electromagnetic noise can be expected.

Customer advantage
In contrast to a process controlled by “paper routing sheets,” read by the operators, RFID allows all relevant manufacturing data to be obtained automatically. RFID tags are robust, lasting many years, and allow process data to be changed as necessary; two significant advantages, especially when compared to barcode systems.

Read/write heads and tags can be mounted directly on metal

What is being done

In order to provide maximum process flexibility, the data on the RFID tag must be read "on-the-fly." This means that the width of the read zone must be wide enough and/or the tag access speed must be fast enough so that large amounts of data can be retrieved from the tag as the monorail enters a work zone.

In many cases, read heads are mounted on metal and tags are frequently flush mounted in the structural metal of the monorail carrier. This demands that the read heads are constructed to operate reliably in highly metallic environments. Similarly, the RFID tags need to be designed to operate while flush mounted in metal; simple foil tags are not suitable.

Monorail systems are usually equipped with strong electric motors generating significant electro-magnetic fields, and the RFID system must be able to operate reliably in these adverse conditions. Due to its industrial design, Pepperl+Fuchs' IDENTControl allows operation in such environments. Shielded cables, supporting our unique “continuous shielding concept,” read heads with low-resistance ground connections, and the use of cast-metal housings for the interface controllers are important design features. 

Typically, the speed of the monorail is less than 1 m/s (~ 200 ft/min), which makes reading a tag's read-only data possible in most cases. When reading large amounts of user data is necessary, one has to consider details like tag access time and size of the read field. Let us help you choose the right solution.

RFID enhances manufacturing processes by optimizing transport paths. RFID enhances data reliability by removing manual data entry procedures, and increases line throughput by retrieving data “on-the-fly” as soon as the carrier enters a work zone.

Your benefits at a glance

  • Automatic discharge of defective products
  • Localization of all manufacturing products at any time
  • Robust and writable tags for a durable solution