Electronic identification systems for asset management
Electronic identification is an increasingly pervasive technology that permits rapid data recovery from low-power transponders whenever they are placed within the vicinity of an interrogator device. Fundamental benefits include proximity detection not requiring line-of-sight, multiple transponder access and data security. In this document, electronic identification methods for asset management are devised for the new target application of electrical appliance testing. In this application mains-powered apparatus are periodically subjected a prescribed series of electrical tests performed by a Portable Appliance Tester (PAT). The intention is to enhance the process of appliance identification and management, and to automate the test process as far as possible. Three principal methods of electronic identification were designed and analysed for this application: proximity Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), cable RFID and power- line signalling. Each method relies on an inductively coupled mechanism that utilities a signalling technique called direct-load modulation. This is particularly suited to low- cost passive transponder designs. Physical limitations to proximity RFID are identified including coil size, orientation and susceptibility to nearby conducting surfaces. A novel inductive signalling method called cable RFID is then described that permits automatic appliance identification. This method uses the appliance power cable and inlet filter to establish a communication channel between interrogator and transponder. Prior to commencing the test phase, an appliance is plugged into the PAT and identified automatically via cable RFID. An attempt is made to extend the scope of cable RFID by developing a novel mains power-line signalling method that uses direct-load modulation and passive transponders. Finally, two different implementations of RFID interrogator are described. The first takes the form of an embeddable module intended for incorporation into electronic identification products such as RFID enabled PAT units. Software Defined Radio (SDR) principles are applied to the second interrogator design in an effort to render the device reconfigurable.