RFID or OCR recognition

RFID or OCR recognition: Which telematics solution has a future?

Transport tracking using RFID technology is well known to most players in the transport and logistics industry. The abbreviation RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and means identification by radio frequency. This method belongs to the group of automatic systems for the identification of goods and functions via a contactless signal exchange. The transponders or RFID tags play a central role in this process. They are very small and light and can be attached directly to the goods, transport containers and loading equipment in the form of a sticker *. (Source: www.logistikbranche.net)

But which technology is more suitable for which application? For rail freight infrastructure companies, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) at entrances and exits is the more reliable and cost-effective solution. 

RFID tags would have to be attached to each individual wagon for each train in order to ensure continuous data exchange. In view of the number of wagons to be equipped (by 2016 DB alone had a stock of approx. 85,000 wagons / source: Statista), it can be assumed that this would still be financially feasible for Western European railway companies. However, our Eastern European neighbours will not want to raise the funds for the time being.

Another disadvantage is the metallic background of the railway wagons. The energy transmission to the sender and the data transmission to the receiver unit can be considerably disturbed. The tags are also susceptible to damage, e. g. during loading or vandalism. It should also be noted that the maximum speed when passing is limited by physical limits. If a wagon is to be reliably identified, one tag must be attached to each side of the wagon. This doubles assembly costs and the risk of damage or loss.

For these reasons, ASE has concentrated on OCR recognition of the UIC number with NUMBERCheck. The 12-digit UIC wagon number in rail freight transport is unique worldwide. It enables the unambiguous identification of freight and passenger cars and contains important key data for rail transport.

The great advantage of the evaluation of the UIC number compared to all other systems is that the numbers must already be affixed on two sides of every wagon put into circulation and only the evaluation sensors have to be built up additionally. Another benefit of the NumberCheck systems from ASE GmbH is the camera-based sensor technology. This means that features such as damage detection, dangerous goods number recognition, etc. can be implemented without additional hardware expenditure.

Greetings from Bruchsal, your ASE team!