Communication module stores and processes production data

Figure 1: The communication module can be embedded in metallic components, i.e. in a hub carrier. (Photo: ITA)

ITA | Researchers from Hanover have developed a communication module which is able to store and process component-relevant data and communicate it to its environment. The autonomous system is supplied by a tiny solar cell. Its overall size is only a quarter the size of a sugar cube.

The aim of researchers of the Institute of Transport and Automation Technology (ITA) and the Institute of Microwave and Wireless Systems (HFT) of Leibniz Universität Hannover is to enable metallic components to store and process production data as well as component loads and transmit the data through a wireless connection to an external infrastructure.

Within the scope of the Collaborative Research Centre 653, the researchers have developed a communication unit with integrated sensors. Its size is just 13 mm x 13 mm x 4 mm (see Figure 3). The module contains an ultra-low power microcontroller, an antenna and a solar cell. The housing is realized by a three-dimensional molded interconnect device (3D-MID), also carrying the digital circuit. Further features include wireless data transmission and autonomous energy supply without batteries, using solar cells instead.

In future, the communication module can be used for process monitoring – for example, to detect errors at an early stage. In a transfer project, the module will be further developed for industrial use. 

by Christoph von der Ahe

Image gallery for this article

  • Figure 1: The communication module can be embedded in metallic components, i.e. in a hub carrier. (Photo: ITA)
  • Figure 2: The module can store production data, measure component loads and transmit the data via RF communication. (Photo: ITA)
  • Figure 3: The communication module consists of protective layer, HF circuit, antenna, solar cell and MID housing. (Graphic: ITA)
  • Figure 4: HF circuit and antenna are located on the front side (left), digital circuit and energy storage on the rear side (right). (Graphic: ITA)
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