AutoID (Automatic Identification) technologies use mainly barcodes, OCR, 2D codes, RFID and NFC in order to identify all sorts of objects in all industry sectors and in logistics: articles in the super market, parts and modules in the production line, (returnable) transport items (RTI), vehicles and so forth. The main benefits of AutoID solutions are the acceleration of business processes and the improvement of data quality compared to manual procedures. AutoID systems rely on numbers, which identify the marked objects (“article number”). If it is required to distinguish similar objects uniquely from each other the article numbers must be extended by serial numbers.
While the automation of enterprise processes is rapidly growing the AutoID technologies achieve a crucial meaning. Concepts like the Internet of Things (IoT) or “Industrie 4.0” can only be put into practice successfully, if AutoID systems provide reliable data about all kinds of moving objects in the diversity of business processes, production lines and logistics chains. This data must be transferred securely to the IT systems in the background which control the processes, take actions if discrepancies are detected and post alerts to managers if human actions are required.
Talking about AutoID today means not to stay with the mere automatic identification of objects. It is also important to collect information about further parameters of moved or stationary goods. Therefore, critical goods are not only equipped with RFID tags, but also with sensors which record parameters like temperature, humidity, acceleration (to detect shocks), etc. Such functionality helps to make sure, that goods do not only reach their goal, but also keep appropriate properties so that they can be sold in the super market or mounted at the production line.
After identification and sensing there is a third vital requirement in modern logistics and production environments: real-time locating systems (RTLS). Primarily, people think of GPS systems to provide real-time locating. But GPS has its limits. For instance a truck approaching a distribution centre cannot make sure to hit the right hub when just using GPS. For the last meters towards the hub this truck would need complementary components based on e. g. active RFID or RTLS.
The collaboration of AIM Germany and OPC Foundation aims at the easy systems integration of all these AutoID components and at an easy way to improve and substitute systems according to new requirements and market developments.