when the RFID tag passes through the field of the RFID transceiver, it detects the signal from the antenna. This activates
the RFID tag, signaling it to transmit the information on its
microchip to be picked up by the RFID transceiver.
The versatility of RFID performance capabilities enables
the technology to be used in situations where barcodes or
other optically-read technologies are impractical. Unlike
other trace and trace methods, RFID tags do not need to be
on the surface of the object to obtain an accurate reading.
By embedding the tags, they can still offer the desired reliability without being subjected to environmental elements.
This protects them from wear and saves manufacturers significant replacement costs. Additionally, with their compact,
sophisticated electronic design, RFID tags come in virtually
any housing style for maximum application compatibility.
In addition to its longevity and durability, RFID is also fast
and accurate—increasing efficiency and productivity. The
read time is typically less than 100 milliseconds, allowing
large numbers of tags to be read at once rather than scanning item by item. Further, each tag contains a unique serial
code which allows a product to be scanned and tracked
throughout the entire manufacturing process—eliminating
both human and production errors. By enabling users to
track a product so closely, RFID prevents counterfeit products from entering the stream of commerce—which is particularly important in pharmaceutical applications where a
counterfeit product can cause health concerns.
THE ADVANCED MONITORING SOLUTION
In the beginning, connectivity was limited, with only two
channels of RFID allowed on a single node of the network.
Today, advancements in technology allow RFID to optimize
data management by maximizing communication capabilities.
RFID systems integrate with common industrial networks,
such as PROFIBUS, DeviceNet, Modbus, PROFINET and
Ethernet, to communicate with existing technology and effectively store critical data and process information. Further,
these systems can also incorporate more channels on a
single node, with newer RFID systems integrating up to eight
channels per node, and providing options for analog and discrete I/O points on the same node within the network.
Along with enhanced connectivity, today’s systems also offer advanced memory storage technology, delivering an even
longer operational life. Tags implementing ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) data carriers can process data
approximately ten times faster than those utilizing electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM).
FRAM-enabled tags can process data for reading and writing
at an unprecedented rate of 10ms. Additionally, tags with
FRAM capabilities can withstand significantly more write operations, with some up to one billion.
Users also have a variety of frequency options to choose
IN THE FIELD
from with newer systems. Traditionally, RFID was offered in one
frequency range, 125 and 250 kHz, which was the most familiar
to manufacturers since nearly all inductive sensors have been
working in this range for decades. Now, RFID systems offer a
range of frequencies to choose from, including 125 kHz to 13. 56
and 433 MHz—even up to 5. 8 GHz. While this makes selecting
the proper system more complex, it also offers enhanced com-
patibility with a greater number of applications.
RFID technology is a critical component to ensuring product quality in pharmaceutical processing applications. With
the capacity to store more intelligent data about the product,
its components and origin, the likelihood of counterfeit products entering the stream of commerce is significantly reduced.
Due to strict regulations enforced by the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), many pharmaceutical manufacturers
are using RFID tags to imbed specific information about
their products to prevent counterfeit. Counterfeit occurs in
the pharmaceutical industry when products do not contain
the necessary drug pedigree. By embedding information
about a product’s raw materials, batch orientation, original
manufacturer and more, this data can be tracked from initial
manufacturing through delivery—allowing any counterfeit
products to be easily identified and discarded.
Another example where RFID is used within the pharmaceutical industry is monitoring portable tanks. In these
applications, the RFID tags are used for tank identification.
Further, by using RFID, manufacturers can easily track the
chemicals stored in the tank itself.
Within the medical and pharmaceutical industries, product
quality is vital, as they are often used to impact the health
and well-being of society. RFID delivers features that enable
manufacturers to have more control over their products,
and enables them to remove counterfeit and poor quality
products sooner, improving consistency and production efficiency. ■
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are using RFID tags to imbed specific information about products,
such as raw materials, batch orientation and original manufacturer, to prevent counterfeiting.