Continuously tracing tagged bales with RFID

  • Stationäres RFID-Lesesystem RFU61 von Leuze electronic

Continuous traceability

In the manufacture of varied, highly-automated products, such as cloths and microfiber fabrics, unique identification is a prerequisite for creating transparent and traceable processes. Thanks to a Leuze electronic RFID solution with tagged bales, this requirement can be fulfilled optimally in every step of the process.

As a rule, unique identification must be ensured nowadays from the time of the delivery of raw materials, throughout intermediate steps particular to the process all the way up to the completion of the product. An example from the baled goods sector shows that optimal identification technology can assure reliable detection in every step – even if similar goods from several suppliers are processed into a uniform product, such as is the case with a large manufacturer of cleaning fabrics and cloths.

The manufacturer receives its raw materials from countless domestic and international suppliers, which are made from various materials, normally in the form of rolls. Since the products are often very difficult to differentiate based on their color and the outward appearance of the material, it is essential to label them before storage. In order to be able to ensure traceability, the raw materials are equipped with a transport bar code label by the supplier. Furthermore, either the supplier or a goods receiving employee of the cloth manufacturer attaches a transponder to the roll to guarantee reliable, unique assignment. All data relevant for subsequent processing of the respective end product, e.g. material number, supplier number and order number is stored on this single-use transponder. According to the requirements of the process, storage is done via an input terminal with an RFID-capable combi printer directly after unloading. Finally, the raw materials are put into goods storage.

There was good reason for the additional RFID labelling. A decisive process step is, for example, detection of data at the unwrapping machine after conveying the roll from storage into production. The high number of cloths manufactured and the various production lines require many unwrapping machines working in unison to provide the materials for further production. As fine dust particles are created during unwrapping and cutting and the readability of bar codes is only mediocre due to the preceding storage, the less-sensitive and future-proof RFID system mentioned above was chosen.

Reading out and linking data

In this application, inexpensive transponders from the UHF range are used, since they are only needed once to ensure the materials are safely transferred from goods receiving to production. These "single-use" transponders are read out at every unwrapping machine with a stationary RFU61 RFID writing system from Leuze electronic. The information (material, supplier and order numbers) reaches the central production system directly from the machine via Ethernet. There, it is connected to the production data and all additional production steps are linked to the read data.

Since the material rolls are processed in their entirety, the detection at the beginning of the process is sufficient for documenting the material change without a doubt. All in all, traceability is ensured and the use of standardized EPC1Gen2 chips promises a future-proof solution. This solution was worked out together with Leuze electronic after detailed process analysis and a preceding test setup.

A partner with an extensive range and years of experience

The "sensor people" systems from Leuze electronic are used in the automobile industry and in conveyor and storage technology as well as in printing machines and in packing material and analysis technologies. The range of products extends from simple optical electronic sensors and identification and data transmission systems to complex image processing systems and optical electronic solutions for workplace safety.

With its complete RFID range, Leuze electronic highlights its skills at creating solutions even for demanding projects, such as the application example described shows.


Dieter Esslinger is a state-certified electrical engineer with an emphasis on telecommunications. He then graduated from an extra-occupational training as a Technical Business Manager (CCI). Since 2001, he has been employed as an RFID / Ident technology product manager at Leuze electronic GmbH + Co. KG in Owen.


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    Continuously tracing tagged bales with RFID


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