Car manufacturers have found yet another use case for RFID technology. Industrial automation firm Turck is managing a pilot project for a high-end German car manufacturer that uses passive RFID sensor tags to detect moisture in vehicles.
Leaking autos could soon become a thing of the past thanks to the first-ever passive water sensor tag that works on metal surfaces such as the harsh environment of an automobile chassis. Launched by Smartrac, the solution is also expected to find applications in aviation manufacturing and shipbuilding.
“Car manufacturers want to ensure that their vehicles’ passenger cabins, trunks and electronics bays are completely watertight before they are sent out to dealerships, and this innovative sensor product does the job perfectly,” says Walter Hein, business development manager for RFID at Turck.
Smartrac has partnered with chip manufacturer RFMicron to develop Sensor Tadpole, a UHF sensor tag that is deployed on cars during assembly, and used to detect small amounts of water leakage inside vehicle compartments that can damage electronics bays, cabins and trunks. The sensor tag features RFMicron’s Magnus S2 Sensor IC with its patented Chameleon™ technology, which can be used to sense moisture or pressure.
As more and more hybrid and electric cars are produced that require enhanced protection for their electronic circuitry and electrical components, identifying water ingress in these critical areas is becoming ever more important for manufacturers. Window seals, weather stripping and body seams are the primary causes of factory water leakage.
Smartrac’s Sensor Tadpole is an on-metal passive sensor tag designed to work on metal surfaces, with minimum signal degradation from surrounding structures. The tag has a strong adhesive and small, slim form factor, which makes for easy deployment on difficult surfaces. The detection area can be extended by using a wicking tail, which guides moisture to the sensor tag, allowing minute amounts of water to be detected quickly, as well as the source fo the leak. Sensor Tadpole is deployed in the manufacturing flow as part of the automobile assembly process.
Shahriar Rokhsaz, RFMicron President and CEO, says that the primary benefits of the sensor solution include cost savings, faster and more accurate water intrusion detection, “and improved customer satisfaction as vehicles that escape factory water-intrusion testing result in significant field repair costs and cause irreparable damage to a manufacturer’s reputation.”