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Unique identification of objects in the chemicals industry with the help of RFID/NFC technology

RFID/NFC technology in the chemical industry | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

The process industry, and the chemicals industry in particular, is the engine of our economic cycle and an indispensable part of the modern world. The major sectors of the chemicals industry are organic and inorganic raw materials, chemicals, fertilisers and crop treatment products, plastics and synthetic rubber, pharmaceutical products and other products such as cleaning agents, adhesives, cosmetics, preservatives, dyes and auxiliary agents for textiles. In short, everything that we need for everyday life.

In Germany, the process industry alone procures more than 5 million items of equipment annually for the construction of new and maintenance of existing production facilities. A simple and unique method of identifying all objects is urgently required. Standardised identification technologies such as NFC/RFID metal plates or NFC/RFID industrial transponders are helpful in this context.

These enable all information relating to a physical object to be identified in different IT systems across all processes, from placement into and removal from storage, assembly, maintenance, inspection, repairs all the way to disassembly. This information can be accessed, amended, supplemented and stored as and when required. If different identification technologies and structures are used, this causes difficulties and extra work for all participants in the process chain and value-added chain. Seamless collaboration, cooperation and communication cannot be guaranteed.

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Digital Data Chain Consortium (DDCC)

DIN SPEC consortium established in 2019 and made up of the leading players in the process industry is focusing on the automated and standardized identification of physical objects along the process chain and the value-added chain. On 07 October 2021, 43 companies, including the members of the DIN SPEC 91406 Consortium, the VDI Technical Committee 2770 and the Digital Platforms for Asset Management and Maintenance in the Process Industry working group, founded the Digital Data Chain Consortium (DDCC). The aim of the Digital Data Chain Consortium is to establish the complete digital data chain from the manufacturer to the plant operator.

This includes, on the one hand, the further development of the national standards DIN SPEC 91406 and VDI Guideline 2770 into international ISO/IEC standards and, on the other hand, the further development of cloud-based information exchange platforms for the provision of digital manufacturer information.

Particular emphasis is placed on the further processing in downstream IoT systems. The objective is to identify all physical objects uniquely and with a consistent syntax using RFID/NFC technology and/or 2D codes. As a result, the identified objects will be fully integrated in the IoT system cycle.

IoT system cycle | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

Why is unique identification or a unique language so important?

Unique and standardised identification is of invaluable benefit in all processes. Information such as drawings, operating instructions and spare parts lists can be recorded in data systems and linked to an identification system, ideally an RFID/NFC transponder. This also works the other way around: Information from data systems such as test reportsphysical inventories or protocol documentation can be rewritten onto the NFC transponder. All that is required to enable identification throughout an object’s life cycle is the NFC identification carrier, which provides all participants in the process chain with information about a physical object and allows this information to be continuously updated.

What sets the results of the consortium’s work apart is the fact that users and suppliers will speak the same language in future. Its members have agreed on a common, unique designation and identification structure. With the “globally biunique ID”, it is now possible to address different databases and information about the physical object based on an identity. This simplifies handling for all participants and creates standardised process sequences. As a result, the entire value-added chain from supplier to procurement, maintenance and repair through to the end of life of the physical object is covered.

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Unique and memorable marking

This unique identification is the basic prerequisite for accessing and maintaining information about the digital twin of a physical object. Simple representation and implementation are the keys to success. The newly developed logos that clearly identify the globally biunique ID and are ushering in a new industrial standard for the process industry satisfy these criteria.

This means that users as well as external service technicians can easily and quickly ensure that the correct RFID/NFC transponder or 2D code is being read out. Confusion will be eliminated in the future and the error rate will fall.

Unique marking | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

RFID/NFC technology makes it possible

NFC technology | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

Since physical objects in the chemicals industry are also used in heavily contaminated environments or in inaccessible areas, contactless identification using RFID/NFC technology offers considerable advantages over the 2D code. Many smartphones and other mobile readers support NFC technology. An RFID/NFC transponder is attached to the object. Different attachment options can be used for this – the RFID/NFC transponder is either glued, riveted, embedded in a material or attached with cable ties.

What RFID/NFC transponders by smart-TEC offer

An RFID/NFC transponder that is used as part of the DIN SPEC is subject to many requirements. Attachment to and visibility on the object play a role, as do the operating frequency, chip coding, legibility of different RFID readers and functionality throughout the life cycle.

smart-TEC RFID/NFC transponders – be they metal platesindustrial transponders or smart LABELs with integrated NFC technology, meet all these requirements. smart-TEC develops and produces RFID/NFC transponders customized for all requirements – in terms of shape, colour, size, imprint, material, attachment as well as thermal, chemical and mechanical resistance.

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RFID/NFC transponders for potentially explosive environments

Ex-Schutz | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

The use of RFID/NFC technology in potentially explosive areas may be subject to additional requirements. Here too, RFID/NFC technology by smart-TEC is specially certified for use in potentially explosive areas and can be used wherever flammable gases, dust or dust/air mixtures occur. All smart-TEC production locations have the appropriate certification for the production of ATEX-compliant NFC data carriers.

Product examples

RFID / NFC Industrial transponder | smart-TEC | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

RFID / NFC Industrial transponder

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RFID-/NFC-Etikett | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

RFID / NFC Labels

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RFID / NFC Metal plates | smart-TEC | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

RFID / NFC Metal plates

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Cutting-edge identification in the form of a globally standardised identification character string

All industry partners in the DIN SPEC consortium have agreed on a uniform syntax, which enables each user to choose a unique identification that can also be interpreted worldwide.

Identification character string | © smart-TEC GmbH & Co. KG

Special care was taken to ensure that the identification character string can be accurately processed. For instance, it is not permitted to use special characters that cannot be processed, cannot be transmitted, or may be misinterpreted when processed in IT systems.


Do you have questions about any aspect of the DIN SPEC for the chemicals industry?

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