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Omni-ID's View 10 Tag Aims to Replace Paperwork at Detroit Diesel, Other Factories

The View 10 includes passive and active RFID, Wi-Fi and IR technologies, a 10.1-inch screen and enough memory to store and display more than 160 pages of info that workers can view automatically at their assembly stations.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 07, 2014

In an effort to eliminate the paperwork that follows products through the assembly process in the manufacturing industry, RFID technology company Omni-ID has released View 10, an 8-inch by 11-inch battery-powered, multiprotocol, multifrequency RFID tag that combines a 10.1-inch electronic-paper display screen with an active 433 MHz RFID tag (compliant with the ISO 18000-7 standard), a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag (compliant with the EPC Gen 2 and ISO 18000-6C standards), a sensor for receiving data via infrared (IR) signals and a Wi-Fi transceiver. The View 10 can be attached to an automotive engine or other product on an assembly line, enabling management to not only locate that item within a facility based on Wi-Fi-based location data, but also track its status based on RFID or IR reads performed at assembly stations. At the same time, operators providing the assembly can automatically view instructions related to the work they should perform on each specific piece displayed on that tag's screen, sparing them from having to flip through pages of a "build book" that historically follows an object being assembled.

The View 10 tag was designed during the past 18 months for automotive manufacturers or other large capital goods manufacturing companies. One of its first customers, Detroit Diesel Corp. (a division of Daimler Trucks North America), has been piloting the technology during the past year, and is now proceeding to deploy the solution throughout its facility. At the same time, says Ed Nabrotzky, Omni-ID's CTO, the technology is being piloted by another unnamed automotive manufacturer, and Omni-ID is in discussion with a pharmaceutical company interested in using the tag to monitor drug manufacturing.

Omni-ID's View 10 has a bistable screen that measures 10.1 inches (diagonally) and draws no power when displaying data.
The View 10 is the largest member of Omni-ID's ProVIEW product line (the currently available View 2, View 3 and View 4 models were launched in early 2013), but Nabrotzky says customers had suggested they would benefit from a tag with a large enough screen to replace the sheets of paper or booklets that typically follow an item through production, to instruct operators regarding what they should do.

The new tag features 25 megabytes of memory (upgradeable upon request), which is sufficient for approximately 168 visual pages of text. The device can be mounted via a hook or magnet, or follow an item without being physically attached to it. Its black-and-white bistable screen draws no power as it displays data, enabling the device's batteries to last for about two weeks before requiring a recharge.

The problem with paper documents is not only the cost, Nabrotzky says, but also their inability to be easily modified in the event that assembly specifications change. For example, in the case of Detroit Diesel, the books that list instructions related to the assembly of very specific products are printed by a third party 48 hours ahead of planned assembly. An engine could move through as many as 60 stations of assembly and work, guided by the build book. When copies of the book arrive in crates, personnel must take them out and match each book to the corresponding engine, according to serial numbers on those engines, and then use a marker pen to make any changes (if there have been any) to the instructions. During assembly, operators at each station must flip to a certain page to read the appropriate instructions. The books are then discarded at the end of the assembly process, resulting in unnecessary waste as well.

The View 10 is designed to act as a real-time location system (RTLS) tag for tracking and tracing an item through the assembly process. In addition, it serves as an electronic book that automatically displays pertinent information to operators, and enables them to indicate any changes or problems.

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