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Volvo Workers Use Arm-mounted RFID Readers to Identify Heavy Equipment

At the company's powertrain factory, workers wearing thumb covers with RFID antennas can hear an audio voice recording describing an item and its appropriate location each time they pick it up.
By Claire Swedberg

During the first two years following the technology's implementation, the company applied tags to a total of about 45,000 brackets, entering each tag's ID number into the Datema software residing on Volvo's onsite database. Thanks to the RFID solution, Forslund says, workers no longer require training to identify each bracket, and the sorting process is now faster and error-free, which has led to more on-time shipments of goods.

Two RFID reader antennas are built into each thumb cover—with one antenna (shown below) positioned on the thumb's right side, the other on its left.

However, Forslund notes, advances in technology make it possible for AMC to offer the solution in a way that would be even more convenient for workers. With today's reader hardware, he says, he can produce a smaller reader to be attached to an individual's wrist, rather than the upper arm, enabling the wires to the two antennas to be shorter and less cumbersome. What's more, he adds, the Bluetooth technology requires several seconds to transmit after it has gone to sleep and been re-awoken, while ZigBee technology could accomplish the same thing much faster. According to Forslund, the ZigBee-based version would operate longer before its battery would require recharging, since it could hibernate more frequently than the Bluetooth model, and thus use less power.

The thumb cover is worn over a person's work glove.

The technology is suitable for any environment in which workers pick and sort goods for manufacturing, Forslund indicates, especially for heavy items, such as in the automotive industry. Volvo did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the technology.

USER COMMENTS

Jet Whool 2013-08-23 01:54:02 AM
How long is the reading distance of the reader?

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