RFID middleware for all use cases

RCOM Gateway functions as a central middleware in order to control devices from various manufacturers and to map logics before they are forwarded to your backend. The term IoT platform might also be used to describe this. However, since RCOM Gateway was developed especially for the integration of RFID devices with available application solutions from the supply chain and interfaces to the systems commonly used for this purpose such as SAP, we prefer the term RFID middleware in order to differentiate ourselves from generalised services without any process logic.

RCOM Gateway was developed especially for RFID applications in the supply chain and it is therefore extremely flexible, allowing us to talk about “all use cases”. The handling of events can be customised by the user right down to the smallest detail thanks to the integrated sets of rules, UI designer and programming API. For “traditional” applications that occur frequently in practice, there are pre-defined templates that can be modified quickly and easily to your own requirements.

Device management and reader control systems

The central task of the middleware is the control and event handling of stationary RFID readers, i.e. the control devices in the RFID gates. RCOM Gateway uses so-called agents for this purpose, which can be saved on the Linux core of the reader or as a Windows service on a server. They control the hardware on the manufacturer API, while the middleware deals with the new APIs, updates and firmware changes. If you are considering the direct control of hardware in your ERP system, please note that you must have programming resources permanently available for such cases. Expenditure will therefore be higher the more models from different manufacturers you wish to use in the company. Middleware with integrated device management is recommended to deal with these issues – you can concentrate on the processing logic of your operation and not on the bits & bytes in the transmission protocols.

Configurable rules

The crucial question in any reading event in an RFID environment is always: what should happen now? Should millions of read events be transmitted without delay to the ERP, or should there be some filtering beforehand? Is direction recognition, memory for read tags or the different handling of various object groups relevant? Should light barrier signals and signal lights be used directly in the workflow and which visual outputs should be shown on which monitor?

The backend generally only wants a qualified event, for example the posting of a kanban container from empty to full status, but not the hundreds of other events in the workflow that lead to this logic. We have developed a sophisticated and easy-to-operate designer for configurable rules for all of these use cases. The Workflow Designer can be used to carry out everything from standard tasks to detailed manual programming and allows you to make changes to your process logic independently of the software manufacturer – i.e. us. We or our partners can make changes for you as required, but the decision lies with you.

Track & trace module

One of the classic applications with RFID is the localisation of objects, components, load carriers or orders in the plant. We have integrated the optional track & trace module into RCOM Gateway for this purpose. In just a few clicks, you can map your plant and warehouse structure in the system. These can also be linked with geo-coordinates so that you can visualise the localisation in Google Maps. Our module automatically records the corresponding warehouse locations in the Google API.

The Workflow Designer allows you to manipulate warehouse stocks during events, which you can view live on the overview maps at any time. Click on the warehouse area and you will instantly be able to see the contents and track the history of individual objects as required. Track & trace has never been easier.

Support for GS1 and ISO standards

RCOM Gateway supports the global GS1 Tag data standard and ISO representation. Special ISO coding schemes such as 6-bit coding in accordance with VDA standards have also been integrated. This is relevant because many manufacturers do not yet natively support this format.

Filtering and assigning objects to self-defined groups is possible via simple rules – for example according to data identifiers – with just a few clicks. Whereas with other RFID solutions you have to have this programmed separately for you, for example for the integration of a VDA container according to 26B or 27B, in RCOM Gateway the assignment can be carried out automatically with just one click. This level of flexibility is unique up to now.

Adaptable web interfaces

Unlike barcodes, RFID is automated data recording. Nevertheless – or indeed perhaps because of this – visual displays of ongoing processes are important in many areas. When loading a lorry, for example, the outgoing goods department must be able to see at a glance whether all goods have been successfully recorded. And if the wrong palettes are sent through the RFID gate onto the loading ramp, then this must be signalled to employees immediately. As the display form and relevant data content differ at practically every company and for practically every process, we have integrated a UI designer whereby masks can be created independently depending on the data basis in the workflow. These so-called custom UIs can be also be released only to specific users or user groups via user rights.

Designed for interfaces

The distribution of data to other systems is an important core task for a middleware or IoT platform. As a result, RCOM Gateway supports a large number of different protocols, including

  • OPC UA
  • MQTT
  • WebService Calls
  • File interfaces (Excel XLSX, CSV, TXT)
  • SQL databases
  • SAP IDoc
  • Interface to RCOM mobile for handheld apps
  • Interface to RCOM LabelPrint to trigger the printing of RFID labels
  • Interface to RCOM VDA 5509 as an end-of-line control to readout tagged components

Supporting leading RFID manufacturers