Manufacturing

Application – RFID Eliminates hose-coupling errors

Friday 11 September 2020, 10:40 AM

3 Minute Read

Bulk-handling and pneumatic transport system designers use RFID technology to eliminate connection errors at manual hose-coupling stations for fluidizable materials. Coupling stations, with IO-Link enabled read/write modules (RWMs) mounted on each outlet pipe, use manual quick-release hoses to feed materials to multiple machines. RFID tags, mounted integrally within each hose coupling and blanking cap, identify the mating parts uniquely, allowing individual outlet/hose combinations to be verified at the time of connection.

Customer Application

Bulk-handling systems across diverse industries, including food processing, plastics and pharmaceuticals, rely heavily on pneumatic conveying systems for transporting powders, granulates and other fluidizable materials. Pneumatic conveyors offer quick, reliable high-volume transportation with minimum degradation of the transported material.

Coupling stations offer a simple and cost-effective means of connecting several material sources, typically silos or storage bins, to multiple processing machines. A pipe from each source enters the bottom of the coupling station, where it branches, providing multiple outlets for each material. Quick-release hoses, connected manually to the corresponding outlets, feed materials to machines. Unused outlets are capped.

Human error can result in hoses being connected to the wrong outlet, causing costly errors if undetected; systems designers require real-time confirmation that the correct hose has been connected to each outlet, or, where no connection is specified, that a blanking cap is in place. An industry-standard interface is highly desirable; ultra-high-speed communication is not essential

Customer Solution

IO-Link-enabled high-frequency (HF) read-write modules (RWMs) and RFID tags from Contrinex are ideal for this application. An IO-Link-enabled RWM, mounted on each outlet pipe, is connected to a plant-wide control system via two industry-standard 8-way IO-Link master hubs. An RFID tag, mounted integrally within each hose coupling, identifies the hose uniquely, allowing the outlet/hose combination to be verified at the time of connection. Blanking caps also carry unique RFID tags to confirm that unused outlets are capped.

The mechanical design of the RWM and tag mountings ensures that the coupling or cap can only be locked in place once the components are aligned accurately. With data-transfer rates up to 38.4k baud, the sensors provide data in real time, triggering an immediate alarm in the event of a connection error.

Contrinex IO-Link RWMs are configurable to operate in one of two discrete modes: IO-Link mode allows remote communication via the standard protocol; alternatively, if local control is preferred, standard I/O mode allows the device to function as an intelligent presence-sensing sensor. Process engineers can switch RWMs between modes either remotely, using the IO-Link protocol itself, or locally, using a pre-configured RFID tag (a Master Tag) which is simply placed on top of the RWM during the RWM startup process.

With sensing distances up to 60 mm, robust M18- and M30-threaded metal housings and integral M12 connectors, Contrinex RWMs are ideally suited to the environment of a busy industrial processing plant. They are compatible with all ISO/IEC 15693 approved RFID tags, allowing designers ultimate flexibility and excellent value for money.

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