Manufacturing and chemical industries have made real progress in automating processes in recent years thanks to technologies such as RFID that can quickly locate and identify assets and track their movements within the factory or storage area.
However many could be missing out because they believe the environment in which they operate would be too hostile for tags and other equipment to survive. In fact there is now a whole range of products designed to withstand extreme conditions such as high temperatures, shock and vibration, hazardous and corrosive chemicals or for use in areas where there is a risk of explosion.
Richard Harrison of CoreRFID, who has designed systems for use in many chemical and industrial plants, says: “RFID tags are a great way to keep track of components or stock items and unlike barcodes, they can be read at a distance with no line of sight required.
“However when we are speaking to industrialists, they often tell us that RFID would not be suitable for their business because of the extreme conditions. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“RFID has a proven record of operating in hostile environments. Some products are able to withstand the harshest treatment and will continue to function during or after the process.”
Examples include tags that can withstand:
- temperatures of up to 280° Celsius, which makes them ideal for processes such as tyre manufacture.
- HPHT (High Pressure, High Temperature) drilling over 150°C and/or pressure more than 10,000psi, for example in oil wells, boreholes and deepwater environments.
- harsh manufacturing conditions such as paint shop operations involving temperature cycling, water immersion, powerful jets, caustic chemicals, pressure, shocks and vibrations.
Richard Harrison adds: “There is a huge range of RFID tags available to suit almost every environment, however the key thing is to take expert advice. An RFID specialist will be able to tell you what products are available and will also take account of other factors – such as the application, the layout of the plant and compatibility with other products – to help you choose the right solution.”