Monitoring Environmental Conditions by Leveraging Advanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) 2007-01-3840
The use of Radio frequency identification (RFID) is increasing asset visibility, accountability and environmental assessment throughout industry. The application of RFID is maturing and expanding to include unforeseen uses. Asset accountability does not have to be constrained to identification alone. There is a myriad of opportunities if RFID technology infrastructure could support additional data beyond simple ID and tracking. Industry need has driven the development of enhanced RFID technology. Through the University of Arkansas' RFID Research Center, the discrete arenas of wireless and sensory technologies have merged and when coupled with internet applications are emerging to provide a viable integrated solution for capturing asset attribute data such as temperature and time.
Specifically, the ability to monitor and control surroundings within a cold-temperature environment has been identified as a significant attribute from the consumer goods sectors. Northrop Grumman Corporation and its aerospace partners have identified other areas besides food products that necessitate data capture and monitoring of temperature-sensitive materials. Composite materials begin aging upon exiting the freezer environment; there also is a shelf life even within the freezer. Composite rolls can cost tens of thousands of dollars and therefore represent a significant investment by the material user and cost to the end product buyer. Expired shelf-life results in lost material and procurement of replacement material drives up manufacturing lead-times and cost. It is beneficial to know the amount of time the composite material has been outside of the freezer and the temperature the material had experienced during its out-time. Both factors affect the aging/curing process of composite material.
This paper identifies the elements involved to provide the RFID, sensor and network integration capable of environmental monitoring of temperature sensitive materials within a freezer. The paper also presents the engagement and cooperation of aerospace with academia through interaction between Northrop Grumman and University of Arkansas in a synergistic approach for best implementing and integrating emerging technologies.