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RFID Brings ROI to Air-Filter Maker

German manufacturer Herding is using RFID to track production, quality control and shipment of new and reconditioned filters. The company expects to recoup its investment in 2007.
By Rhea Wessel
Dec 22, 2006Herding, a German manufacturer of industrial air-filtering systems, is using RFID to track the production and quality control of the reusable air filters it produces. The firm is also tracking the process of receiving, refitting and returning the filters to their original owners.

The company implemented the application in 2004 and is now using about 40,000 tags a year in the course of this project. Because of efficiency gains the RFID system has brought to the production process and the processing of handling returns, the company expects to recoup its investment in 2007. In the meantime, Herding is working with its systems integrator to use the existing system to further refine production processes, with the hope of achieving even more efficiency gains, says Wolfgang Raabe, Herding's head of filter development.

Wolfgang Raabe
In early 2004, Herding began to look for a better way to manage the process of returning each refitted filter to its original owner. At that point, it was using a pen-and-paper method that was both time-consuming and error-prone. The company tried attaching bar-code labels to the filters, but dirt and dust on the labels made it difficult to read the bar codes. For a while, Herding stamped the numbers into filter frames, but these were difficult to read and had to be noted by hand. Therefore, Raabe contacted several RFID systems integrators.

"I was promised quite a lot by these integrators, but as soon as the project got more concrete, the partners were suddenly no longer available and had nothing to offer," said Raabe, who eventually contracted EURO I.D. Identifikationssyteme, based in Weilerswist. Ultimately, the company chose EURO I.D. as its systems integrator.

Herding decided on a system using passive 868 MHz UHF transponders attached to new filters during production. The tags, made by UPM Raflatac, with U-Code 1.19 chips from NXP Semiconductors, are embedded in a plastic case measuring 10 millimeters wide by 15 centimeters long. The tags fit along the outside edge of the frames.

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