RFID Case Study: Vehicle Documentation and Access Control

Brooks Automation GmbH – vehicle documentation and access control to central vehicle depot

At a glance...

  • All-over vehicle monitoring
  • Access control for vehicle depot
  • Elimination of manuallly procedures
  • No holdups during exits and returns
  • Transparency of vehicle inventory

RFID Products used

  • Reader UF70 Certum
  • Windshild Tags

RFID Frequency 868/915 MHz (UHF)

The challenge

Until now, deployment planning of the 260 buses was done manually by the VBZ. The drivers registered when they left or returned to the central bus station using paper forms from a central administrator. This led to an overload of work for the person on duty during peak hours, especially in the mornings and evenings.

The task for Brooks Automation was now to automate the manual documentation procedures using RFID technology. The RFID systems job was to accelerate the existing process without making it more complicated for the driver. Additionally, the stock of vehicles in the station had to be constantly kept up to date in real-time to be able to allocate new jobs to the vehicles quickly.

The implementation

Paper forms no longer needed to be filled out since using RFID technology and the staff was very positive about this development. Instead of this, arrivals and departures were booked entirely by the RFID system. The access doors of the station were equipped with RFID reading stations working at UHF frequency 865- 869 MHz and a reading range of around 2-3 meters. The transponders were fixed to the side windows of the vehicles, allowing each vehicle to be uniquely identified. The vehicle was identified when passing the reading station based on its unique ID number. The RFID reader passes the read-out information onto the central software system via an Ethernet interface; this system then registers the bus as present or absent in the station.

The current stock in the station can therefore be displayed at all times. The administrator can call-up the stock in real-time and can inform the driver in a timely manner about new tours such as, e.g. to the workshop or car-wash. The installation environment was a special challenge: The reader stations are located very near to each other. Due to the long-range of the UHF technology, this might result in double automated entries when vehicles pass by simultaneously. On the other hand, the RFID readers used compensated for this. They have so many ways of being configured that the reading range was able to be adjusted to this application.

Additionally, the damping characteristic of the vehicle’s glass was also an initial hindrance to communication between the transponder and the RFID reader. By using a transponder suitable for the identification of glass, even this obstacle was solved and unique vehicle identification could be guaranteed.

The RFID systems are contained in stable boxes, making them extremely resistant to both adverse weather conditions and to dirt. They can also be used outdoors without any problems.

Just as in the vehicle fleet organization of public municipal transport services or company-internal fleets, these and similar RFID systems can also be used for multistory car park surveillance or for general access control.