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Polyfilld's RFID Solution Helps Roads Talk to Inspectors

The system uses Schreiner LogiData passive tags embedded in nonwoven fabric installed under asphalt, as well as Schreiner LogiData readers mounted on vehicles.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 11, 2012Roadwork agencies and municipalities periodically send inspectors onto the network of roads they manage, in order to identify areas requiring repair. Now, some of those roads—in Austria and the United Kingdom—are equipped with passive radio frequency identification transponders that inform inspectors about the roadwork's history, via RFID readers located onboard vehicles.

The solution was developed by an Austrian firm known as Polyfilld. The company, founded in 2012, provides nonwoven geosynthetic polypropylene fabric designed to be rolled out between a roadbed and new layers of asphalt during road repair. The material is equipped with RFID tags that are read by inspector using an RFID interrogators installed on the back of their vehicles as they pass by at a speed of 40 kilometers per hour (25 miles per hour) or more.

Polyfilld's soluton includes passive tags placed on a nonwoven polypropylene fabric installed under layers of asphalt.

The firm is now testing a second version of its Polyfilld Pavement Data system, with ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags and readers designed by Schreiner LogiData specifically for the application. The first version of the RFID-based solution, installed in U.K. roadways, employs Schreiner LogiData high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags compliant with the ISO 15693 standard. However, the company notes, the HF tags provide limited read rates when vehicles pass over them (the tags are embedded under a layer of asphalt several centimeters thick), so Polyfilld is now testing a UHF version in roadways throughout northern Austria.

Nonwoven polypropylene material is utilized to bond a new asphalt surface to a roadbed when damaged or worn street is repaved. During the resurfacing process, the material is laid down on the exposed roadbed, after which asphalt is poured over it. This prevents precipitation or cracks to carry into the roadbed from the pavement's upper layers. Nonwoven asphalt overlay fabric has been available from a variety of vendors for about 35 years, says Rainer Lugmayr, the company's CEO and cofounder. The polypropylene material not only protects against cracks in the upper pavement layers, but also acts as a cushion between the two layers, reducing the incidence of wear and tear on roadways, as well as the need for frequent resurfacing.

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