Parts fixtures are used to carry a wide variety of products through automated assembly lines. At the individual process locations, an RFID system is used to retrieve information and record manufacturing and test data.
Automatic and reliable identification of the parts fixture allows step-by-step tracking of the workpiece, thus enabling decentralized control throughout the entire manufacturing process. The RFID tags act as a mobile database taking information from station to station.
To achieve long-term, reliable operation, most parts fixtures utilize solid metal bases that hold compact, flush mountable RFID tags. When a decentralized control strategy is desired, an RFID solution with read/write capability is needed.
In contrast to barcode and DataMatrix solutions, RFID systems are 100% maintenance and wear free and contain no moving parts. Powerful integrated data verification processes make incorrect tag data highly unlikely. Flush mounting the inherently robust RFID tags results in a mechanically superior solution. As all relevant process data can be written to the tag, a solution that does not depend on a central database is easily accomplished. Data is always available at each process location allowing additional work cells to be added quickly.
The embeddable RFID tag is mounted at a central location on the bottom of the parts fixture. The conveyor moves the fixture past an RFID read location that uses the tag data to control diverters and gates to move the part to the next available process station. Quality data specific to the manufacturing step is written back to the tag.
Frequently, several near-by readers are connected to the same IDENTControl interface, which in turn is connected to a PLC using one of many supported industrial networks. At the end of the final process, all process and quality data are read and recorded in a database. This allows specific parts to be identified in case of recalls.
High production efficiency and 100% parts traceability in combination with decentralized control are key features supported by RFID-enabled fixtures.