Management Of Manufacturing Assets By Deploying Maintenance-free Wireless Sensors
Tahir, Muhammad Ashhal
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In modern manufacturing systems there is ever increasing need for higher efficiency, performance, optimization and requirement for minimal errors in the production process. Advancements in technology have significantly improved the performance of the manufacturing systems and offered advance tools to track manufacturing assets such as pallets. Pallets are extensively used for transportation of raw materials or final products. There are different ways to monitor and track pallets, some of these include using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), barcodes, utilizing wireless sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes. This thesis proposes a methodology for managing manufacturing assets, such as products, by making use of maintenance free wireless sensors. The implementation of this work presents an application developed for detecting and measuring the strength of radio frequency (RF) signals in the surrounding environment. The application is developed as an independent android application that is interfaced with the manufacturing system under test. The android applications acts as a prerequisite for identifying possible radio frequency harvesting points at the assembly line. One of the features of an energy harvester is utilized to harvest the radio frequency signals from sources such as Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) Signals or wireless access points installed in the environment. The solution was successfully deployed and tested on the FASTory line, an assembly line consisting of 12 work stations situated at the Factory Automation Systems and Technologies Laboratory (FAST-Lab). By utilizing pallets, the android application is used to create a signal strength map of the assembly line. Based on signal strength map, different locations at the assembly line are identified where radio frequency signals can be harvested for powering the wireless sensors. The energy harvested from the RF signals removes the need for battery replacement of wireless sensors.