Modern manufacturing facilities exhibit modular structures and are highly networked via connector-based interfaces. To understand the characteristics of these interfaces and the network as a whole for operational and maintenance purposes, they need to be catalogued and identified on a management database.

It is now possible to carry out this procedure using information collected from connectors and cable assemblies equipped with UHF RFID transponders which link information and data from real components with the virtual world (Fig.1). This makes it possible to identify specific connectors and use this information to carry out operations such as the ordering of spare parts quickly, conveniently and reliably.

Using a mobile reading device such as a smartphone with an associated reading unit, component data can be recorded and compared with data from the connector supplier’s e-business operation. Immediately upon identification, spare parts or reference values can be displayed and used. This leads to a significant reduction in time and expenditure and prevents costly mistakes that could result, for example, if the wrong spare parts were ordered during maintenance work.

Of course, a detailed and relevant database is needed on the back end for this concept to work reliably in the field. In addition to the configuration of the connector, the database also permits location-independent access. Consequently, users can be provided with detailed data on identifiable objects via the Internet.

The HARTING Technology Group has already employed SAP based e-Business solutions to build up a wide range of expertise and experience that flow directly to users and operators. This gives users enables reliable and rapid access to detailed data on products and machinery, and can be used for other future business and production processes.

RFID technology enables still further innovation in terms of object-specific data collection and storage. RFID tags can not only uniquely identify objects: transponders can also be written with additional information that can be read or updated as required. For example, sensor transponders can record additional data such as temperature values directly from an object and store it in the transponder. This additional data recorded directly from an object enables verification of events such faulty machine operation, providing an additional benefit in terms of safety.

Thanks to these developments in UHF RFID hardware and production management software, HARTING can directly link data from its connector and cable assemblies with business database structures. By integrating a small UHF RFID component into the connector, HARTING has linked the identification process with data collection systems and integrated them into a highly efficient data management structure.