RFID is getting more popular on the factory floor—as a way to track everything from production assets to raw materials to finished goods. Turck last week rolled out a new system that should make it easier to incorporate RFID capabilities into new and existing factory automation systems.
Called "BLident," this modular RFID system has built-in I/O capabilities. Think of it as an RFID "slice" for use with the company's existing BL platform of IP 20 and IP 67 modular I/O. According to Mark DiSera, Turck's RFID product manager, the system allows a single network node to support up to eight RFID channels along with analog and discrete I/O.
The BLident system, which is built on the 13.56 MHz HF standard and uses FRAM-based data carriers, has a couple of factory-friendly attributes that set it apart from the increasingly crowded RFID field. For one, it's speedy. DiSera reports that the system reads and writes data at 0.5 ms/byte. "That's incredibly fast for an inductive system," he says, noting that BLident can handle production line speeds as fast 10 m/s assuming read distances up to 500 mm. For another, it handles high temperatures, with carriers that work up to 210 C.
The speed, temperature and I/O capabilities make the system a good fit for applications that have challenged RFID capabilities in the past. DiSera says the system, which was introduced in Germany last year, has already seen use in fast packaging applications and automotive component production. He adds that it's even gone into some automotive paint lines, whose high temperatures would have wreaked havoc with lower-temperature data carriers.
As part of the BLident roll-out, Turck has created an on-line configuration tool that simulates read distances, speeds and other aspects of RFID system design.
BLident supports PROFIBUS-DP, DeviceNet , Modbus-TCP, PROFINET and EtherNet/IP. A variety of standard non-programmable gateways and CoDeSys programmable gateways are available.