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This page was published on 22/12/2006
Published: 22/12/2006

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Published: 22 December 2006  
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Information society  |  International cooperation


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Cross-border R&D developing high-tech monitoring devices

Sophisticated monitoring devices can be a vital tool in a wide range of applications. Tailor-made tagging systems are capable of everything from tracking the movement of cargo to counting the rpm of a single gear in a portable generator. Accurate measurements regarding the wear and tear of equipment and where exactly it's being stored can aid in the proper maintenance and increased productivity of a company's resources. Radio frequency identification (RFID) has proved to be a critical innovation in tracking technologies and two European firms, Plefo Ab of Sweden and Mannings Group in the UK, have taken notice and teamed up to develop a new low-cost efficient tagging system for precious cargo and machinery.

RFIDs can be used on anything from antiques to animals. © Milo Grika
RFIDs can be used on anything from antiques to animals.
© Milo Grika
Their project, known as ARTSAFE, will develop wireless and mobile technology systems to prevent inventory loss and improve security and maintenance operations. Their results are expected to benefit European businesses and citizens alike. ARTSAFE is organised under the EUREKA initiative designed to facilitate international cooperation.

ARTSAFE systems are comprised of wireless RFID tags, a wireless tag reader, the system control computer and an alarm communication system to help companies keep track of their inventory and compile accurate maintenance records for their machines.

“RFID has great potential for use in a wide variety of applications. Tags can be used to monitor the location and movements of high-value objects, but they can also monitor the workings of machinery, helping operators to plan more efficient and economical maintenance schedules,” explains project coordinator Lucas Aahlstroem of Plefo Ab.

ARTSAFE is designed to handle both indoor and outdoor applications, particularly those areas where current RFID technologies cannot reach, such as underground mines not easily serviced by radio waves.

Mr Aahlstroem envisages a rather large market for the ARTSAFE system.

“These components work together in several different configurations to offer different levels of security and monitoring capacity for virtually all valuable objects,” explains Aahlstroem, “from a motorcycle helmet to the Mona Lisa to a 747 aeroplane.”

Researchers see currently devising systems for diesel pump applications.

“These pumps are portable and are supplied to hire companies for end user operations at building sites,” Aahlstroem explains. “Operation of hire equipment fitted with our RFID devices can be monitored in detail, providing information on overall run time, for example. This means better awareness of potential problems and better diagnostics in case of failure.”

The EUREKA initiative was established in 1985 and currently has 38 full members, including the European Union. Though EUREKA is not a specific programme of the EU, the two bodies strive for cooperation and synergy between their respective initiatives, especially for the Framework programmes, whenever possible.

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