1/3/2022

Make RFID authentication part of your industrial automation

Nowadays, authentication at an RFID reader with an ID card or tag is an integral part of the office environment. Several times a day, we use our ID card at doors, a printer or a charging station to identify ourselves for access. But, there are many other RFID reader applications that you would not immediately think of, such as in the industrial sector.

Industrial automation is a hot topic. Production companies make their processes more efficient to remain competitive. Every day, new automation technologies are being developed. Are you currently automating your production processes? If so, don't forget the authentication part! The description below shows why this is such an important element.

Why is authentication important in industrial automation?

Security in industrial processes is always a priority! It is about the protection of your most valuable capital, your employees, products and processes. You want to be sure that only certified and skilled employees have access to certain machines. These people know exactly how to operate these machines and keep your employees and products safe.

A password for automated processes is secure, right?

Granting access to machines and processes with a password is safe. However, it has some disadvantages compared to other authentication options. Firstly, people forget passwords. Secondly, the more people who know the password (such as the supervisor or mechanic), the more vulnerable it becomes. And, what happens when an employee retires? Changing passwords (regularly) takes up valuable helpdesk time. Thirdly, manually entering a password is the slowest way to authenticate. Finally, how easy is it for employees to enter a password when they are wearing protective clothing, such as gloves?

Benefits of access through RFID authentication

Convenience is the main benefit of using RFID authentication to access your industrial automation processes. Authentication with RFID technologies is contactless and the reader can quickly read an ID card, tag or even a mobile phone. In addition to this, RFID readers can be extended across the organisation to provide secure printing, food purchases and more importantly to allow access to critical areas and production processes.

RFID readers are available that can read multiple card technologies, as standard, so should needs change, the readers can be easily updated to support this. This prevents the need to keep issuing new ID cards or tags. If an ID card or tag is lost or stolen, it can be deactivated very easily (kill command), ensuring continued security levels.

RFID cards and their associated readers are a very durable option in the demanding industrial environment. Unlike other authentication methods, RFID readers are often manufactured to be highly resistant to dust and dirt, high and low temperatures, and general wear and tear.

How does RFID authentication work?

The best way to ensure security is to restrict access to secure data and products to authorised users, think, for example of engineers, mechanics and the IT department. The access level, which is very easy to set, can be varied depending on the role, qualifications or certifications of the specific user. For example, an engineer may have full access to uploading, downloading and modifying the controller and Human Machine Interface software, whereas a user within the IT department can only upload or download software for backup and emergency repair purposes and the engineer has limited access to change software for process troubleshooting.

As an additional benefit, RFID authentication supports the ability to register and track changes made to the software. If unauthorised changes are made, causing quality problems, unsafe operating conditions and software loss, these can be easily traced and, if necessary, reversed.

RFID authentication applications in industrial environments

The possibilities for RFID authentication in the industrial field are endless. As reflected in the use by various RFID reader customers of inepro. One example is our reader being used on a forklift truck to allow only certified employees to operate it. But, also by a company that has integrated the RFID reader into apple picking machines, making it possible to specifically register who is harvesting what.

Another good example of the deployment of the inepro RFID reader is the CORA. With this intelligent self-service IT machine, Pidas makes their field support processes more efficient and available 24 hours a day. Read the complete customer case of Pidas here.

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