Problems with RF Tracking in Harsh Environments

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Jun 23, 2014

There are multiple paths to a traceability solution in your plant, but we are going to look at one particular solution: Trolley Vision RF.

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Radio frequency tracking has been used in certain beef and pork plants as a response to paper tags falling off of carcasses; It comes with a whole new range of problems to work through. Radio frequencies can be difficult to master and the equipment necessary can be damaged quite easily if mistreated.

vision systems

One problem faced by most RF tracking systems is how to mount the radio frequency ID tag onto a trolley. It obviously needs to stay with the trolley as it moves through the plant, but it also needs to be durable enough to last through the very harsh treatment that trolleys go through.

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A common way of fixing the tags to a strap is by embedding it in another material. One of the regular methods of doing this is by placing the tag inside something like a small wedge of steel and filling around it with some sort of epoxy. From there, the steel is welded to the trolley strap.

There are several problems with this. First of all, this is likely to take direct abuse. Trolleys can fall and are subject to harsh maintenance. To clean and oil them, they are often thrown into a mixer with oil, abrasives, and other trolleys. These trolleys can slam into each other and break or damage the tag or its housing. Aside from that, a steel body could work as a shield, limiting communication range.

carcass tracking

Our solution to this is to place our RF tags into plastic moldings which fit in the open area between trolley “spokes”. They are bolted and clamp onto the flange at the center of the trolley wheel.

The benefit of doing things this way is that the tag is captivated and does not leave any edges exposed so it is less likely to impact from a fall or collision. It is less invasive and permanent than the alternative as well.

We have put a lot of work into fixing some of the industry’s big issues with RF tracking, so if you have an RF system, but are struggling with these issues, get in touch with us.

Trolley Vision RF System

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