RFID Case Study: Intelligent logistics system with LON

RFID project hospital: Optimization of automated transport system at the Aachen clinic

At a glance...

  • Intelligent supply within the clinic
  • System monitoring via LON
  • Shortened transport and waiting cycles
  • Increased transportation turnover
  • Clear arranged product flow

RFID Frequency 134,2 kHz (LF)

  • RFID Reader LF80 LON

The challenge

Every day hospitals require huge amounts of medicine, consumer goods, food, laundry etc. which have to be distributed throuhout the facility.
In this situation it is vitally important not to exceed certain time schedules.

The implementation

The application of RFID technology in the university hospital Aachen has enhanced the automation level of the organization as well as improving the performance of the transportation system while cutting the operating costs. The automatic goods transportation system was set up in 1982 during the restructuring of the university hospital. The system manages distribution and recycling of medicine, meals, laundry and other goods in the medical section of the hospital using a suspension rail system.

The vehicles are directed towards their charge and discharge stations by means of a switch and rail system. Starting from the supply section the individual vehicles are moved to and back from the various stations of the medical departments.

The decentralized control system is based on a state-of-the-art supervisory panel taking maximum advantage of the LonWorks base by using intelligent forecast and optimization formulas.

The central processing unit is replaced by "intelligent" LON junctions mounted in a decentralized order. They control – autonomously, if required – the entire transportation system. They register the movements of the transport baskets, determine their routes and collect the instructions at the charge and discharge stations. This regulation of the course and final destination of the suspension trains is realized via more than 220 intelligent "reading junctions" and more than 80 displays with fixed workstations.

The system itself recognizes the traffic situation in the system and converts the instructions issued by the control panel into optimal driving lanes. The relevant decisions are made autonomously depending on distance, traffic "bottlenecks" and potential deficiencies.

Due to the implementation of specific stability patterns virtually no failures occur. Errors of individual junctions simply require the remaining junctions to direct the traffic flow away from the defective location. Even in cases of a breakdown of the control panel the transportation process will be sustained by the LonWorks junctions.

The university hospital benefits from the modernization by achieving huge increases in transportation turnover. The results are shortened transport and reaction times and minimized waiting intervals of arriving vehicles allowing an apparently more flexible transportation of goods.

Moreover, the operators obtain a new platform of operating data providing precise information on which transport basket has received, transported and discharged which quantity of goods in which time. This ensures an efficient measurement of the product flow along with a provable control and optimization of all transportation activities.