RFID with HF Bus Mode Eases Seed Storage

KWS optimizes and secures its seed production with Turck’s RFID solution for the wireless identification and temperature monitoring of silo boxes – Profinet S2 redundancy included

KWS Saat SE & Co. KGaA is the world market leader for sugar beet seed and supplies its customers with seed varieties for conventional and organic farming that are specially tailored to their requirements. To do this, the seed must be propagated and processed under suitable climatic conditions. In this highly automated treatment process for sugar beet seeds, Turck›s BL ident RFID solution ensures the contactless transmission of power, address data and measured values from temperature sensors inside silo boxes and ensures high plant availability – also thanks to Profinet S2 redundancy made possible by the RFID interfaces. The possibility of automatic address assignment and Turck’s unique HF bus mode for connecting up to 32 HF read/write devices per port guarantee fast installation, efficient storage and easy device replacement for service tasks.

  • Each shelf location is equipped with an RFID read/write device that reads the RFID tag underneath the box

  • The RFID tag has a sensor connected to it which measures the temperature inside the storage container

  • Turck’s TBEN RFID interfaces with IP67 protection are mounted cabinet-free in the warehouse

  • ''This is the perfect solution for us.'' Dr. Joris van Dort | KWS 

  • ''The HF bus mode suited our requirements perfectly.'' Christian Fricke | KWS

As one of the world’s leading seed specialists for corn, sugar beet and cereals, KWS Saat SE & Co. KGaA uses state-of-the-art plant breeding methods to increase farmers’ yields and further improve the resistance of plants to diseases, pests and abiotic stress. This requires the seed to be propagated and processed under controlled climatic conditions and to high standards of quality. In the sugar beet seed production facility at its Einbeck site, KWS prepares the sugar beet seed in a highly automated, multi-stage process. The seed is transported fully automatically into boxes between the individual process steps and stored in a dynamic high-bay racking system. The temperature inside the storage boxes has to be determined and monitored at all times and as accurately as possible in order to ensure seed quality. 

High availability thanks to Profinet S2 redundancy

The seed must meet certain requirements, for example, in terms of tolerance to various diseases or drought. The relevant data is exchanged and processed in the system between a server and the controller. “If silo data were lost as a result of a control system failure, it would no longer be possible to track which seed is stored in which box,” says Christian Fricke, technical innovations team leader at KWS. “In this case, there would be nothing left to do but dispose of the seed that could not be identified. For a high-priced product that can’t be reproduced at short notice, this is obviously not desirable.” 

The required warehousing system must therefore guarantee maximum availability and data security. Turck’s compact TBEN RFID interfaces with Profinet S2 system redundancy for highly available systems meet this requirement. Another benefit: The robust RFID interfaces with IP67 protection can be mounted directly in the warehouse without a protective housing. 

Wireless power and measured value transmission

A robot takes over in the treatment process the dynamic removal and placement of the boxes on the appropriate shelf location. As a result of the production team’s previous experience, the new solution focused on contactless power and signal transmission. 

Turck’s RFID solution provides RFID tags at the bottom of each box with an attached sensor element that measures the temperature inside the storage container. Each shelf location is equipped with an RFID read/write device that reads the tag on the box as soon as it is stored. The read/write device supplies the temperature sensor with power via the voltage induced in the tag. This completely eliminates the maintenance effort required with a battery-powered solution. 

Automatic identification of the seed storage boxes with RFID

The boxes are managed by the control system of the high-bay supplier. At the same time, a process control system receives the booking telegrams from the controller. RFID technology enables unambiguous and complete monitoring of all boxes during transport and storage. The ID stored on the RFID tag on the bottom of the box can be used to check whether the box is at the correct shelf location. If there are any discrepancies, a stock reconciliation is carried out. The RFID system thus provides the basis for verifying the database information.

Fast commissioning thanks to HF bus mode

The HF bus mode allows the connection of up to 32 HF write readers per port. In applications with many write and/or read positions, this considerably reduces the wiring effort as well as costs. Temperature values and IDs are read cyclically. 

Benefits of automatic addressing

If a device is faulty and has to be replaced, the TBEN registers which read/write device is missing when it is removed. If a new module is connected, it is automatically assigned the address of its predecessor. It is no longer necessary to store preconfigured replacement devices or carry out any time consuming addressing of replacements for service tasks.

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