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New opportunities in hydraulics

23rd March 2017

Posted By Paul Boughton


When it comes to industrial applications, the more accurately the optimal maintenance time can be predicted, the more cost-effective the operation of the machine
RFID technology opens up new opportunities in the hydraulics field by preventing faulty connections or enabling predictive maintenance. Photo credit: Cake78 – Shutterstock
Products equipped with a transponder can still provide important information about their condition when they are in the hands of the end customer, whether they are a hydraulic hose or a can of ravioli. Photo credit: FOOD-micro – Fotolia

Markus Linzmaier describes how RFID technology opens up new options in hydraulics 

More and more new application fields that are being developed with the aid of RFID technology mean that it is still constantly moving forward.

This technology offers multiple options that are far from exhausted. That will become apparentin the years ahead. RFID is also opening up new opportunities in the hydraulics field, by preventing faulty connections or enabling predictive maintenance.

RFID stands for ‘radio frequency identification’, i.e. identification using electromagnetic waves.

This allows data to be read and stored irrespective of the location, without touching the data carrier or having visual contact with it.

To permit capture via RFID, an object is fitted with a transponder, which responds when polled by a reader and then transmits data wirelessly.

Large amounts of information 

Whereas, for example, a barcode only designates the type of product, a transponder can display much more precise data.

The barcode on a can of ravioli is able, for instance, to transmit the information “can of ravioli from company XY from Germany”.

A rewritabletransponder, on the other hand, shows exactly which can is involved. This makes it possible to trace exactly when this can left the factory, where it made a stopover, and where it was bought.

The data on the transponder enables other databases to be consulted, which then provide further information. Products equipped with a transponder are also still traceable after being sold, ie when in the end customer’s possession.

A refrigerator could therefore automatically determine which products are missing and therefore have to go on the next shopping list or which food should be used first because it is approaching its use- by date.

Immobilisers are another application field for RFID systems. In these, the transponder is located in the car key fob, while the reader is in the ignition lock. The engine can only be started if the correct data is transmitted.

Avoiding faults in the first place

Data-transmitting line connections, in which a female connector containing an RFID reader accommodates the male connector with the transponder, would also function very similarly. This would guarantee correct connections even with multiple connectors - a principle that is already being used successfully in medical technology. The transponder tells the controller what has to be connected to the respective port. If a fault is detected, the controller can generate an alert for the user or shut the device down.

Media-carrying systems can, in principle, be equipped with a large number of different sensors measuring pressure, temperature, through- flow rate and media quality.

The hoses and lines equipped in this way generate and transmit the data, which is then evaluated by, for instance, control units. This can be used to check whether a system is meeting the operational requirements. It is also possible to determine whether the circuit contains the right volume of the right medium in the desired condition. Appropriate sensors are fitted in the line for that purpose.

The data is then transmitted to the transponder. The operational controller settings or device usage can also be monitored. The condition of the overall system can be monitored by means of defined parameters and, if required, preventive maintenance can be performed.

Logical evolution of maintenance systems

Predictive maintenance is becoming an increasingly important driver in industry. Intelligent data analysis enables machines to be maintained preventively. This requires the machines, products and components to be networked, ie to be connected to the internet. That is the logical evolution of the classic maintenance strategies used hitherto.

Integrated sensors use these connections to capture condition data from machine components and combine transponder, on the other hand, shows exactly which can is involved. This makes it possible to trace exactly when this can left the factory, where it made a stopover, and where it was bought.

The data on the transponder enables other databases to be consulted, which then provide further information. Products equipped with a transponder are also still traceable after being sold, ie when in the end customer’s possession.

A refrigerator could therefore automatically determine which products are missing and therefore have to go on the next shopping list or which food should be used first because it is approaching its use- by date. Immobilisers are another application field for RFID systems.

In these, the transponder is located in the car key fob, while the reader is in the ignition lock. The engine can only be started if the correct data is transmitted.

Avoiding faults in the first place

Data-transmitting line connections, in which a female connector containing an RFID reader accommodates the male connector with the transponder, would also it with information on maintenance planning or account management.

Abnormal patterns - such as overheating - that are indicative of faults, are then detected in good time.

Suitable preventive countermeasures can then be initiated. In the event of a drop in pressure,
falling fluid levels in line systems or the first indications of material fatigue the sensors issue an alert - to the operator or directly to the component manufacturer, who can immediately offer the customer the appropriate replacement part.

Like the example of the smart fridge, smart lines and connectors could order new material to replace consumed media or replacement parts for damaged seals and kinked or leaking hoses.

And since the reader can also write information to the transponder, usage and maintenance data can be documented uninterruptedly and, for example, operating errors can be tracked subsequently.

Particularly when it comes to industrial applications, the more accurately the optimal maintenance time can be predicted, the more cost-effective the operation of the machine.

Downtime and unpredicted failures can then be avoided in most cases, provided the appropriate maintenance is carried out at the right time.

A successful approach particularly requires the right system to be selected, the correct data to be generated and processed, and the appropriate blend of industry knowledge and analytical methods to be applied.

One key factor is to ensure that the RFID system is capable of withstanding soiling.

Markus Linzmaier is innovation manager at ContiTech Mobile Fluid Systems









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