Gefasoft Automatisierung und Software GmbH in Regensburg, Germany used the first RFID systems in 2000 in car body manufacturing. "We have adopted the use of this technology from the start because in our work, wireless identification is often an ideal addition," says Harald Grünbauer, CEO of Gefasoft Automatisierung und Software GmbH in Regensburg, Germany."
Within the Gefasoft Group, the Regensburg subsidiary is responsible for development, production and sales of complex control systems that are primarily used in the automobile and semiconductor industry. The company also manufactures assembly and automated measuring equipment.
For a recent semiconductor application, Regensburg specialists developed an automated loading and unloading system for the manufacturing of multi-chip modules. This system links numerous wire bonders and simultaneously handles quality control of the bonded chip modules. The machine has a modular design and consists of one loading and unloading module with three magazine handling stations, transfer paths on the wire bonder, as well as the transverse and reverse transport routes for the parts carrier. Before handlers transfer the processed chip modules to the "good parts" magazine, they are checked for correct wiring using RFID and image processing. A "reject parts" punch marks the defective parts with a hole on a determined position.
Project Engineer Markus Müller tested numerous solutions from several suppliers before making the decision to go with the BL ident system from TURCK.
"I was very excited at how stably the TURCK system operated," Müller says. "The other systems had difficulties both with regard to connecting to the controller, as well as with the stability."
One reason for the problems with alternative systems could have been the unusual positioning of the data carrier directly in the metal of the parts carrier.
"We have a metal contact between the parts carrier and the data carrier," Müller says. "This should not actually be the case, but due to general construction conditions, the data carrier could not be mounted on its own, nor positioned otherwise. And our tests showed that the TURCK system had no problem with this issue."
The parts carrier and the corresponding stations are now equipped with the BL ident RFID system, which is connected to the plant's control system via PROFIBUS DP. Overall, six read and write points are currently integrated in the system. The first is located on the outlet of the loading machine. Here, the data carrier receives information as to whether all designated components were successfully mounted and can be further processed. If the four points in the parts carrier are properly filled, the content of the data carrier is added so it includes the processing release. Information concerning the successful or unsuccessful processing of each component is added on the following processing stations.
Finally, on the last RFID station, the data is exported and the operator forwards the individual parts either to the "good parts" magazine or the "reject parts" punch, depending on their classification on the data carrier. The production data is archived per batch in a report file.
"In the system expansion, we could also have handled the identification of the parts carrier with alternative technologies," Grünbauer says, "but precisely because of the modularity and expansion capability of the system, we decided in favor of the RFID technology. It means that the system can be easily upgraded."
The system has now been working for more than a year in double and triple shift operation without any outages. For Grünbauer, this success is reason enough to continue using BL ident for projects to come.
"With (the benefits) we have experienced, we will also use the RFID solution from TURCK in our systems in the future," Grünbauer says.