New Auto-ID Integration Standard Could Play a Major Role in IoT
The OPC Foundation, the interoperability standard for industrial automation, recently reviewed the simplification of integrated ID systems. The process began last spring with a workgroup for systems integration, whom is working on a plan for a communication standard for the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA).
The processes of optimized production and logistics will find that the automatic identification of various objects is continuing to be a highly important issue. This will drive strong growth in the auto-ID market in the future, with ARC Advisory predicting an increase of 15% in RFID adoption in 2015. It’s not a completely smooth ride—there are still obstacles in the way of widespread adoption.
The most prominent of these is the cost and complexity of RFID integration and other code reading technologies, which serve a variety of background systems. Current estimates are that approximately 25% of project costs are attributable to RFID services, including the integration into IT platforms or the automation environment. This is due, in part, to the need for a widely distributed standard for the variety of reading devices and the multitude of hosting systems, which include program logic controllers (PLC) and IT systems.
The disadvantages that could arise from this situation are worth addressing. Reading devices from the various manufacturers do adhere to a standard for capturing code, but a separate driver must be implemented for each type of device in order for network communications to be sent to the next level of the system. Once the components have been purchased from a manufacturer, it becomes expensive to adopt the components of another company, even if they are a better fit for some specific applications. The employment of a variety of auto ID methods as part of a hybrid application will certainly bring additional costs.
Added to this, is the fact that system environments are growing more heterogeneous. In the past, auto ID constructions where closed applications, as RFID readers were communicating directly to PLC in order to run the production line. Now, the widespread adoption of auto ID is bringing a great amount of systems, which need data from the identification. For example, if a part is tagged with a data matrix number, this number is utilizable as a controller for the posting of goods receipts, quality control of the part, verifying the code quality, managing material flow and also warehousing systems, coupled with the mounting and installation of the product. The problem remains that there are still a large number of management and control systems to be integrated to account for all these tasks.
However, a new Integration Standard will go quite a ways to solving this. Simplifying the integration of identification systems could become an essential base for the Internet of Things.