What is M2M / IoT / RFID ?
M2M (Machine to Machine) or IoT (Internet of Things) or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is the automated exchange of information between devices such as machines, vehicles or other equipment, both in the industrial as well as in the private environment. These communicate with each other or with a central location (database) are increasingly using the Internet and the various access networks such as the cellular network. A common application is the remote monitoring, management, control and maintenance of machinery, equipment and systems, which is traditionally called telemetry. The M2M technology linked this information and communication technologies.
M2M / IoT / RFID solutions streamline in almost every industry workflows and result in productivity gains. As an example you can take the vending market. These vending machines connect, for example, independently to a central computer, if they must be re-stocked. Regular restocking trips by the operator can thus be avoided. Moreover, it reduces downtime. Another example is the automotive industry. Here the used parts are reported via an e-Kanban system to the supplier. This therefore recognizes the necessary parts and quantities. The subsequent rationalization of business processes and the resulting cost savings entail for the industry - and also for the company - a large market potential.
M2M / IoT / RFID Applications
- Fleet management
- Facility management
- Supply companies
- Vending machines
- Security/alarm systems/monitoring
- and many more...
Basic concept of a M2M / IoT / RFID application
M2M systems are characterized primarily by three basic components:
1. Data endpoint (End Point Data = DEP). Such as a vending machine to be monitored.
2. Communication Networks:
- Mobile, e. g. GSM, SMS, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSPA, HSDPA, LTE
- Wired, e. g. landlines, ISDN, DSL, Ethernet (LAN)
- Other wireless systems, e. G. Bluetooth, RFID (active / passive) ZigBee, satellite radio, data radio or WirelessHART, LORA.
3. Data Integration Point (Data Integration Point = DIP), e. g. a server that monitors the levels of all vending machines.
In the data collection end point (DSEP) is a compact microcomputer controlled system (Data Collector) - a transmitter which is associated with a terminal. Within a closed network, there may be numerous data collection endpoints and associated devices or equipment. With the help of the machines DSEP exchange via a communication network data with the data integration point (DIP) - the receiver - of which with a central location (database) is connected.
In a complex network, there may be several DIPs. These serve and receive data from the their respective designated DSEP. Thus can arise at several levels in a M2M application a pyramid-shaped topology. The information flows not only in the direction of Central. Thus, also the communication between the individual DSEPs is possible.
The overall data transfer can take place as through a mobile network. For example a device sends an error message directly to a select group of engineers via SMS.
Components of an M2M / IoT / RFID solution
M2M solutions are basically defined of several interdependent components that enable communication between machines. These mainly include:
- Hardware components such as modems, RFID readers, sensors, switches, industrial PCs, servers, etc.
- Mobile and fixed line services
- Systems integration and consulting services
- Applications such as server applications, "Point to Point" applications.
Success factors of M2M / IoT / RFID solutions
Close cooperation between solution partners, network operators and customers is the key to successful planning and implementation of M2M solutions. In addition, the success of an M2M solution is also dependent on the following factors:
- Added value (Cost-benefit analysis → Business Case)
- Company ability (Acceptance → Privacy)
- Adequate hardware (Cheap hardware can generate higher costs in circumstances than expensive hardware → total cost of ownership and return on investment)
- Adequate communication
- Networks (today increasingly mobile networks → GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSPA)
- Rates (in particular mobile tariffs)
- Protocols (the future is IP → wide range of applications and investment protection)
- Complete integration into existing workflows (automation → benefits).
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The term Internet of Things (IoT) describes that the PC increasingly disappears as a unit and is replaced by 'intelligent objects'. Instead - as currently - to be itself the object of human attention, it is the role of the "Internet of Things" to assist imperceptibly the to people in their activities. The ever smaller embedded microprocessors shall assist people without distracting or even noticed. Thus e. g. miniaturized computer, so-called wearables, incorporated with various sensors directly into garments, watches, smart phones, tablet PC or similar.
The Internet of Things defines to the linkage of clearly identifiable, physical objects (things) with a virtual representation in a web-like structure. There is no longer only the participation/action from human participants, but also from devices/things.
The automatic data identification using RFID is often viewed as the starting technology for the Internet of Things. However, a system unique identification of objects can also be made 1D/2D barcode. Where nowadays RFID plays an increasingly important role, especially by the uniqueness of the individual transponder numbers. Thus, you can perform an identification of an item. Components such as sensors and actuators extend the functionality to the detection of conditions or the execution of actions.
What is RFID Technology?
RFID - THE key to success!
You will discover with RFID technology endless new possibilities for the majority of applications in the market.
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and describes the automatic identification without touch of objects.
The first RFID products were used end of the 2nd world war. There a secondary radar served for the friend's enemy's recognition.
With the first, commercial applications in the 1960s the ranges of application expanded steadily (legacy systems, animal marking, street toll systems, access controls etc.).
Main components of an RFID system
A typical RFID system encloses the following main components:
- Chip with antenna (RFID tag or also called transponder)
- Reading and writing device with antenna (scanner or reader)
- Integration with servers, services and other systems like. e.g., cash systems or legacy systems (SAP etc.).
Passive tags and Active tags
One can distinguish in principle the RFID tag (transponder) in 2 categories: passive tags and active tags.
An RFID tag exists of a chip with a simple processor, an antenna and a memory.
- Passive tags cover their energy from the received radio waves. The stored data can be selected. In addition, the storage capacity and the range of the antenna are lower than from active tags. Hence, it is stored mostly only of the EPC (electronic product code) on the passive tag. Advantages are the nearly boundless life span, the lower size and weight and a clearly lower price of the passive tag in comparison to the active tag.
- Active tags dispose of an own battery to the energy supply. The memory can be read and be described. The storage capacity and reach are substantially bigger. Disadvantages more actively of Tag are a limited life span, the size and the clearly higher price in comparison to passive tag.
- Readers (mobile scanner or fix reader) appear in varied form. An example are fix installed readers in multi-storey car parks, in the ski lift or also in the gate to a goods camp. These fixed readers are used primarily where the "product" must be recognised at a firmly defined place.
Another example are the mobile readers which are used at the supermarket, animal marking, compilation of an inventory or similar.
On the RFID tag (transponder) information (e.g., the electronic product code) is stored. If the tag receives a certain signal by a reader (e.g., a gate in the goods camp) he redirects this information over the antenna to the reader. The actualisation of product information is thereby possible in connection with a data bank on a real-time basis. Thus, for example, the topical place of residence of a certain product is always available. NO view contact is necessary between the tag and the reader.
RFID technology is divided at the moment into 4 main categories.
The frequency areas LF, HF, UHF and SUHF have in each case own specifications which show its advantage in the different operational areas.
LF (Low Frequency) 119 kHz – 135 kHz
- Advantages: reliability, high tolerance compared with liquids, textiles, wood and aluminium
- Disadvantages: low reading reach, small memory, slow data transfer, big tag and antennas
- Typical application areas: animal marking, access control, logistics, distribution, waste industry
HF (High Frequency) 13.56 Mhz
- Advantages: high storage capacity, bulk reading, quick data transfer, small Tag and antennas
- Disadvantages: low tolerance with metals, middle reading range
- Typical operational areas: health care, quality assurance, libraries, delivery services, luggage inspection
UHF (Ultra High Frequency) Europe 865 - 870 Mhz/the USA 915 Mhz
- Advantages: high to very high reading reach, bulk reading, high storage capacity, speed
- Disadvantages: very low tolerance to liquids and metals
- Typical operational areas: asset management, logistics, automotive, production, automation
- Worldwide RFID UHF Map
SHF (Super High Frequency) 2.4 GHz (primarily in the USA)
- Advantages: extremely long reading reach, bulk reading, high storage capacity, speed
- Disadvantages: hardly solutions suited for practise in Europe
- Typical operational areas: access control, toll systems, container identification
Strengths and chances
Already today industry and trading companies have put in place the future technology RFID because it optimises their commercial processes, lowers operation all costs and can raise the security of products. These are obviously advantages for the end consumer. During the last 5 years an exhaustive use of RFID has developed steadily. This among other things is due to the reduction of the unit cost for transponder and the steady advancement of technical solutions and improvements of the different technologies.
Still is not to be assumed from the fact that RFID transponders will substitute the barcode in trade and logistics overnight. Rather it is expected that the technologies exist in parallel for a longer period. The industry is demanded to develop hybrid systems which implement both technologies in a device. The first systems are already at the market which allow a parallel processing of barcode and RFID.
Besides, the RFID technology compared with the barcode offers numerous advantages: Data capture without touch without view contact on a real-time basis, concurrent recognition of several transponders (bulk reading), insensitiveness with dirt and other damages, enlarged memory for data as well as the possibility to change already stored data.
By the application of the RFID technology chances arise for all areas of the public life, whether economy, science, public facilities or spare time. RFID can optimise processes, back pursuit eases, authenticity guarantee which improve security of products or simplify access controls. In addition, it is possible to develop autonomous systems with the help of the technology which can react independently and decide. If for example, shelves are equipped in a goods camp with RFID readers, it is automatically recognised, when the continuance goes to the bending and a repeat order is ordered.
As a last would be mentioned that the most unequivocal difference between barcode and RFID tag lies in the fact that a barcoode (once printed) remains a static data medium. It cannot be changed any more. An RFID tag, however, can be provided any time with the newest data and becomes therefore the dynamic data memory which can be re-written any time and changes are stored. Therefore the process chain with RFID "lives"!