Digital Asset Management
What is Asset Management?
Asset Management is a system that monitors and maintains things of high value to a person or a group. Within industrial environments, this includes things like machines, tools, storage containers raw materials for production and goods for dispatch. Thanks to digital asset management, you can now do more than monitor the physical location of items.
Digitally manage tools and machines.
Retrofitting digital asset management into today’s legacy production environment is one part of an overall Industry 4.0 implementation programme. By utilising this technology, you can quickly start to achieve productivity improvements and manufacturing cost savings.
One technology that supports digital asset management is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). Within RFID there are two alternative approaches: Near Field Communication (NFC - millimetre distance identification) or Far Field Communication (FFC - centimetres to low 10’s of metres). For industrial machine production line environments, FFC would usually be the standard approach.
FFC RFID basic operating principles.
You start by applying an RFID transponder, either Active or Passive, onto the relevant asset or tool to be monitored on a machine. Both types of transponders will be identified and communicated with when a compatible UHF RF field is generated within its vicinity by an appropriate RF antenna. The transponder will then communicate with a separately powered RFID reader and successfully register identification of the asset or tool within a defined read distance. Both types of transponder have integral memory storage capacity so you can easily read and write to them.
Active Transponders are self-powered with an internal battery source and will continually transmit data, offering good read rates and larger operating distances. However their batteries have a limited life span and constantly need replacing, which can be awkward for difficult locations. The applied costs of such parts are also considerably higher than their passive counterparts.
Passive transponders will only transmit when prompted by a scanning antenna/reader. They can be provided in a range of shapes & sizes, with very compact designs that can be mounted on all types of surfaces including metal. They are available in low-cost paper based labels or stronger moulded materials. Passive Transponders offer the most cost-efficient compromise to RFID asset management in an industrial environment.
For RFID industrial installation onto existing production lines containing legacy machinery, the component parts of the technology need to be easily retrofitted into typically harsh environmental conditions.
HARTING offers an IP67, maintenance-free RFID reader in a very compact design, which can be mounted directly onto a machine or Din Rail fixed into the machine’s main control cabinet. The reader is based on the unique MICA edge computer product platform.
Compared to other readers on the market, the MICA RFID reader offers end-users increased functionality by enabling additional analytics of recorded data, which is taken as part of any scheduled ongoing maintenance programme of the monitored asset. It therefore provides the pre-analytical link between the factory floor sensor and the analytical/big-data cloud via IoT access.
As a result, it can also enable a direct interface into a company’s existing MES/ERP network, fully integrating critical maintenance operational data into the production planning schedule.
Productivity improvements include:
Extended machine lifetime
Maintenance records can be written and stored onto that particular tool or machine with the RFID Transponders. As a result, this can ensure optimum refurbishment scheduling of high value tools and optimum service scheduling of machines, therefore, extending machine lifetime.
Improved working practices.
Production specialists can use tablet computers to digitally access key machinery equipment histories, either on-site at a remote central control station or even off-site.
Workflow optimisation supports simplifyed processes. These benefits lead to fast return on investment (ROI) and ongoing reductions in operating costs.
Digitalisation projects highlight new ways of co-operation between inter-company departments and their employees.