The answer to this question is a little more complex than a yes or no. Is carcass tracking with trolley vision a viable option?
Whether a radio tracking system like Trolley Vision® RF (radio frequency) will work for you largely depends on your plant and your needs.
For bigger plants, it is hard to beat the standard Trolley Vision® system, but RF could be a viable option for a lot of middle to small-sized plants.
In large-scale operations like beef or pork plants, you probably want to avoid RF for several reasons.
First of all, these operations often have a lot of interference which can severely limit the performance of radio signals.
On top of that, the trolleys can get beat up on quite a bit in these environments (I’ll explain how this affects performance later).
For smaller plants, there are fewer machines running and thus less radio frequency issues, which are the biggest reasons for interference.
Radio antennae are also a cheaper solution to camera stations.
The biggest thing that keeps most larger companies from investing in RF technology is that the RFID tags required are subject to wear from rough-handling of trolleys.
They start off with a very good read rate, but that can drop if they take a beating.
The technology for these radio chips is expected to become sturdier and stable in the future, but as is it is right now, the chips need to be replaced occasionally in rough environments.
Trolleys should be easier to maintain in a plant with less volume, so it still remains a viable option.
Aside from that, the other advantages to Trolley Vision® RF are the lack of a blower to clean out the vision system holes and the non-intrusive installation.
ID tags are clamped to the trolley’s wheel with a molded RF tag holder, no drilling necessary.
This shows you some of the positives of using Trolley Vision® RF for a smaller operation.
It may not be the tried-and true, one-time installation standard Trolley Vision®, but it definitely has its place in certain tracking applications.
Whatever the size of your plant is, tracking or just keeping track of beef and or pork carcass is available and affordable today. There are systems available that can be tailored to fit the size of your plant, one of them is a Radio Frequency Chip attached to a trolley.
The RF system is a system that enables you to fit a small RF transponder (chip) into the trolley wheels permanently with a molded mount or an attachable transponder that is mounted to the trolley strap itself. The second piece you need is a RF reader which reads the transponders specific embedded number and/or enables you to write to the chip. You now have a trolley with a specific number assigned to it and possibly the ability to read and write to the chip. You can start out with a small number of readers and grow from there; most applications start with one in the kill area and one at a point near the grading station.
Here are some of the problems that you may encounter:
- What stray frequencies do you have in your plant? A test will need to be done in the plant to find and record what stray frequenciesyou currently have. Chain drives, lights, any bearings and even hydraulic lines all emit a frequency. You will need to find a frequency level that will not interfere with your system.
- If you plan to write to a chip and one of your stations goes down for a short period of time, that information is lost and not able to be recaptured.
- RF transponder failures can be a problem. The failure rate on a passive chip is about 20% after an 18 month period.
- Even if you have a frequency that does not exist in your plant, outside interference can still be a problem. CB radio’s, trains and cell phone towers have all been found to be the cause of interference to RF systems.
- Transponders attached to the trolleys have a tendency to get knocked off. Think about the handling of your trolleys;they get quite a bit of abuse. Will the attachment stay on your strap?
All this being said, there is still a place for RF tracking in some plants. What is important here is that you know what you are getting into prior to buying a Carcass Tracking system, check them all out.
How can a carcass be identified and tracked trough packing plant operations?
One method to provide informational tracking of a carcass through processing is by use of a Radio Frequency (RF) identification tag.
This is accomplished by a unique identification number which is assigned, and affixed to each trolley transporting a carcass through the processing operations.
The RF Tag provides the identification which is interpreted at specified locations and associated with relative station information such as weighment, grade, or yield, and passed to a computer database.
An excellent system to accomplish this type of activity is the Trolley Vision RF system. It consists of passive RF Tags, an antenna, and associated reader station(s).
This system has met the problematic challenge of affixing an RF tag by use of a composite mold encapsulating and protecting the RF tag.
The tag carrier is comprised of two molded pieces which are clamped together on either side of the trolley indentation area by a screw through the wheel.
A strong feature of this system is that batteries are not required to power the transponder of the tag. Instead, power is induced to the transponder as it passes through the antenna coil field.
The antenna coils are housed in UHMW plastic and are mounted in very close proximity of the trolley wheel movement. Thus, as the wheel passes the coil, the transponder is induced, and the RF tag ID is passed through the antenna to the associated reader.
The reader consists of an enclosed microprocessor which interprets the ID and sends the transponder number to interfaced computer equipment.
An inviting aspect of this system is that installation is somewhat simplistic and may be accomplished by your personnel with proper guidance.
When working with radio frequencies for tracking, there is a lot of science to master.
Just because radio was discovered almost a century ago doesn’t mean that it is a simple thing.
One of the things that we have to worry about it the type of RF tag that goes into our trolleys in the Trolley Vision RF system.
There are generally two variants of RF tag that are commonly used for communication: passive and active. The two perform the same task, but take a very different approach.
With passive RF tags, the antenna in the system creates an electromagnetic field, which excites and powers the RF tag.
Upon excitation, each RF tag emits a unique harmonic signal that the antenna also picks up. This harmonic signal that the tag gives off can then be assigned a unique number in a database.
Active RF tags have an on-board power source that allows them to give off their signal all the time, regardless of the electromagnetic waves given off by the antenna. These can bypass power issues, but more signals also equals more interference.
Tags can also come in two other variants: read only and read/write.
We tend to use read only tags because they allow the antenna to sense the tags accurately without bringing in any unnecessary complexities.
Read/write tags sound like a good idea, but the added ability to write data to the tag doesn’t do much for this sort of operation.
It merely brings in the danger of the system overwriting data on the wrong tag or data loss through other means.
We decided that it was far safer for the information to be handled by the server and database than the tags themselves.
So, there are just a few little things that we have to consider when making Trolley Vision® RF. It’s not the simplest system, but simple doesn’t always mean better.
If you have a plant where you think that Trolley Vision® RF might be a good fit, get in contact with us today.
How does Trolley Vision® Radio Frequency (RF) work?
Trolley Vision® RF requires inserting the transponder into the insert, then installing the insert into the trolley wheel.
A series of antennas and readers are placed by the monorail in specific areas on the kill floor and cooler.
Once an individual trolley with the transponder has passed a reader, an information data string can be attached to the specific trolley transponder identification.
That process is repeated from the kill floor through the cooler.
The information data string includes but is not limited to weight, grade, and defects of each carcass.
The data that has been collected can be analyzed for process improvement and to have a better control of the company’s bottom line.
This process is similar to Trolley Vision® the difference is simply how to best read the individual trolley for your facility.
Trolley Vision® uses a high definition camera to read a pattern of holes that have been drilled into each trolley.
Once the trolley has been read, the information data string is collected and processed.
Trolley Vision® RF: A radio frequency (RF) transponder is attached to each trolley. That trolley then passes by an antenna placed next to the monorail in a predetermined area.
Once the trolley passes the antenna that trolley is read and the data attached to the RF signal has been tracked.
Each trolley has a unique transponder number that allows the information to stay with the trolley.
Trolley Vision® – A unique nine hole pattern is manufactured into each trolley that when passing by a high speed camera reads the pattern and tracks that carcass or product information.