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.
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.
|RFIDs can be used on anything from antiques to animals.|
© Milo Grika
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.