Everyday life and professional life are becoming increasingly networked. Digital services and smart devices are influencing business and production processes. Industry 4.0 and the IoT are driving identification and automation technologies.
In an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global, Olaf Wilmsmeier, Business Development Manager RFID, Harting Group, showcases how Harting is driving digitization with technological innovations such as the MICA platform and UHF RFID in combination with sensor technology or Bluetooth, and how the expansion of its partner network is creating benefits for customers.
Olaf Wilmsmeier, Business Development Manager RFID, Harting Group, in an interview with RFID & Wireless IoT Global
Digitization is both evolution and revolution
For Olaf Wilmsmeier, Business Development Manager RFID, Harting Group, digital services, smart devices, the IoT, and Industry 4.0 are both evolution and revolution: “Digitization has arrived in everyday personal life - everyone is networked today. This development exerts an enormous influence on the manufacturing industry as well, which is one of Harting’s core businesses. Up to ten years ago, the industry and railway sectors relied on local networks which shared as little data as possible.
Today, industry players are recognizing the value added from networking. Predictive maintenance, predictive analysis, and smart data are being intensely discussed at the moment. AutoID and RFID technologies are the prerequisite base technologies – partly because they also enable the automated identification of mobile assets without an IP address.”
The market is searching for solutions, not technologies
According to Olaf Wilmsmeier, there is a steady increase in interest in technology deployment in manufacturing, intralogistics, and rail. “RFID technology can support and ensure the competitiveness of companies. We are registering a worldwide increase in activities aiming to automatise and optimise processes, save money, save time, save jobs, and guarantee high levels of quality. Harting relies on UHF RFID because the technology allows bulk reading, reading ranges from several centimetres to several metres, and deployment in rugged metal or non-metal environments. This is why UHF RFID is well suited to demanding applications such as industry and rail, two core businesses for Harting.
The second technology that allows us to make Industry 4.0 and the IoT a reality: sensors. The market no longer demands pure UHF RFID solutions, but smart predictive maintenance solutions. This results in solutions-oriented enquiries by our customers. The market is looking for solutions instead of technologies. We are focused on solutions that combines RFID and sensors to create even more added value for customers.”
RFID localisation also enables fiscal documentation
In a highly automated manufacturing process such as injection moulding, all parts of the production machine – tools, handling unit, gripper, machine, and software – have to be optimally calibrated. Every interruption of the production process and every faulty product leads to high costs for the company. “Harting equips the injection moulding tool and the handling unit with UHF RFID tags that can withstand the injection moulding process. Aside from ensuring a high machine availability, RFID implementation can also benefit controlling. Where was tool x last used? Which tools have been used in n months? RFID can provide data to prove when and where assets are in use for fiscal purposes,” Olaf Wilmsmeier explains.
Predictive analytics via RFID, sensors and the MICA platform
RFID, in combination with the Harting MICA platform, supplies the data needed for predictive maintenance. “The modularity and flexibility of the MICA platform, combined with RFID and sensors, allows unlocking new applications such as smart data and predictive analytics. In an injection moulding machine, for example, the combined technology solution is providing data on the tool and the program. It recognizes the expected clock-rate and energy consumption and can detect deviations – for example due to abrasions in the worm gear.
This way, predictive maintenance and smart production planning can be implemented. Due to its modularity, older machines without current interfaces can be retrofitted as well. The tool tracking solution is easily adaptable. The more complex the data analysis model, the more specific the solution. This is why Harting offers customer-specific individualisation.”
“In 2018, Harting will expand the MICA platform and the corresponding hardware equipment with additional interfaces. For the connected RFID readers, additional Bluetooth, wifi, and LTE interfaces are created. This development leads to new applications. Combinations of passive UHF RFID and sensor technology are another focus for 2018.” - Olaf Wilmsmeier
RFID with sensors and Bluetooth are 2018‘s “next big step”
In 2018, Harting plans to launch numerous hardware and software innovations, Olaf Wilmsmeier explains: “This year, Harting will expand the MICA platform and the corresponding hardware equipment with additional interfaces. For the connected RFID readers, additional Bluetooth, wifi , and LTE interfaces are created. This development leads to new applications. Combinations of passive UHF RFID and sensor technology are another focus for 2018.
In this area, combinations with Bluetooth sensors are possible. For example, a tool could only be usable when the lights are on and employees are present in order to save energy and resources. Applications that were unthinkable before can now be unlocked.”
Innovation showroom and expanded partner network
All new Harting applications focus on the company‘s core businesses, the manufacturing industry and the rail business and possess industrial-grade robustness. Olaf Wilmsmeier sees a growth in robust technology for 2018: “We bet on more robust readers, and more robust antennas, on sustainability and longevity in our hardware. The company offers complete cable assembly for readers by combining multiple connection cables on one connector to simplify cabling. Over the past 12 to 24 months, there have been positive trends and increased demand in the RFID market.
RFID technology becomes an ‚innovation showroom‘ for new solutions. The expansion of our partner network is also very important to us. We work intensely with system integrators, technology partners, manufacturing companies, and RFID partners who supplement our RFID portfolio and transfer Harting products into final applications. Thus, Harting will continue to provide the widest possible range of innovative technology applications for customers and partners in 2018.”