Automation system integrator ADM Automation installed a sophisticated RFID electronic tagging system as part of several palletised assembly lines at the Black and Decker power tool plant in Spennymoor. The plant is used to assemble and test several different drill variants.
Texas Instrument’s Tiris electronic RFID tags are used to route pallets around the production lines, identify the product to the automatic stations and log fault information. The system has 21 operator stations, including robot driver stations, a grease station, flash test and functional test stations.
ADM managing director Chris Smith says: ‘The tag is similar to the security key fob used on the Ford Escort. It was selected for Black & Decker as it is a cost-effective, high-volume product.’
The data on the pallet’s tag, which has 64 bytes of read-write memory, tells the programmable logic control system where the pallet has to go and changes its route if faults are detected. Readers are fitted to each of the four production lines. The largest line has 21 readers.
It is cheaper and easier to attach tags to pallets rather than to the wide variety of products that pass down the line, says Smith.
‘RFID tags mean no longer relying on people to record fault information or make decisions about routeing on the production line,’ he adds. ‘The more automated the factory, the easier it is to incorporate tagging. People don’t realise how cost effective it can be.’