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RUD and Its Customers Track Lifting Equipment With RFID

The German company is tagging its lifting products with HF RFID tags from Neosid, making it easier for RUD to track inventory and manufacturing history, and for its customers to track inspection and maintenance.
By Claire Swedberg

Neosid had been developing smaller HF 13.56 MHz tags, known as the NeoTAG series, which it first began designing at the request of surgical instrument manufacturers. The 80-year-old company makes custom injection-bonded ferrite components using nickel-zinc or manganese-zinc ferrites for a variety of customers, and that process, explains Benzer, enables the company to create a rugged, very compact RFID tag made with an antenna wrapped around a ferrite core and that can be inserted into metal objects. The ferrite focuses and improves the magnetic flux and magnetic field, thereby providing an improved read performance, Benzer says.

Together with Neosid, RUD developed the RUD-ID-Point transponder, in conjunction with its own RUD-ID-NET software, to enable reliable reading of tags in its own manufacturing facility in Germany, as well as a value-added service offering to its customers that wished to enable their own inspectors to read and store data about each device.

RUD now embeds its ID-Points in all of the lifting equipment it manufactures and also sells ID-Points to customers along with instructions for attaching them to existing equipment. The plastic-encased tags (available in two sizes: 8 millimeters by 3.25 millimeters and 4 millimeters by 3.50 millimeters) are pressed into circular holes drilled into the equipment, without the need for glue. The company also offers the RUD-ID-LINK, a chain link with embedded transponder for retrofitting chains and other items, and the RUD-ID-GLUE, a self-adhesive metal transponder that can be attached to the surface of other types work equipment, such as ladders.

To read the unique ID number encoded to each tag, users can purchase several different handheld HF RFID readers, including the RUD-ID-BETTER-CHECK and the RUD-ID-DISPLAY-CHECK. The ID number can then be transferred to laptop or PC via a USB or Bluetooth connection. The RUD-ID-DISPLAY-CHECK comes with an integrated LCD-display for displaying a tag's ID number, which can be uploaded via a USB or Bluetooth to another computer. The data can then be accessed via the RUD-ID-NET software, or by most Microsoft Office applications (such as Word and Excel or other programs). With RUD-ID-NET, users can access, store and manage data about the item by logging onto the software, hosted by RUD's cloud server provider.

RUD is using the RFID tags internally by reading them following assembly and as they enter or leave storage, creating an updated inventory list that is more accurate than a manual method of conducting periodic inventory checks. RUD's own software, customized to manage read data, also enables the company to create a record of what materials and methods were used in assembly of that item, which could not only be provided to interested customers, but also enable a rapid response to any issues, such as tracing the use of a specific kind of material used to manufacture specific batch of products. In the event of such an occurrence, RUD could easily identify all the items that were made in that batch or with that material.

The company does not intend to charge much for access to the software. In fact those with fewer than 100 items to track can use the software at no expense and simply pay for the reader. Those tracking more than 100 items would pay a very marginal fee for each additional tagged item, Benzer says.

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