From heaven to earth
RFID (radio frequency identification) technology allows reading or recording data stored in tags by means of radio signals. Any RFID system consists of a reader and a transponder — a RFID tag (it has two parts: an integrated circuit (chip) to store and process data, and antenna to receive and transmit signals).
The RFID technology has a number of advantages that make it helpful in various fields. An RFID tag can virtually store unlimited amount of data, which can be re-recorded many times and read without physical contact between a tag and a reader. RFID tags are distinguished by 100% reading accuracy and a high degree of security, and, in addition to data storage, they can have other applications, too.
Initially, RFID technology became widespread in aerospace and defence. In Moscow, one of the first projects was launched more than five years ago by Tupolev Design Bureau and the State Research Institute of Aviation Systems. Radio frequency identification was used to create technologies for servicing Russian Tu-214 passenger aircraft.
RFID technology is applied at various aircraft maintenance stages. The easiest one is the inventory of jetliners' cabin equipment. Manual inspection of all equipment and systems requires the aircraft to stay decommissioned for many hours. With RFID tags used for maintenance or repair, identification of components takes half as much time, while its full documentary check is ten times faster.
RFID chips chief
"In Moscow, dozens of companies are implementing such advanced technologies, which have already become a part of our life. Most of them have been developed by residents of the Moscow Technopolis. Over 30 SEZ (Special Economic Zone) enterprises are engaged with microelectronics. Moscow produces more than four billion chips per year," said Vladimir Yefimov, Deputy Mayor for Economic Policy and Property and Land Relations.
A top-ranked Russian RFID manufacturer, one of the leading RFID solutions suppliers and exporters, is Micron. It is one of the TOP 5 high-profile microelectronic factories in Europe. Micron produces about 700 types of products, including integrated circuits for secure data carriers, identification, payment and transport documents, power supply management and RFID tagging for various sectors of digital economy. There are new areas emerging every year to apply innovations in industry and meet the challenges of business digitalisation, urban space and communication infrastructure improvement.
Micron has its own RFID laboratory to develop and measure RFID products in all operating frequency ranges. With a full production cycle arranged in Russia, all requirements of each customer can be taken into account. Unique developments are also in demand in areas other than high-tech.
Many megacity office buildings of the world have the so-called self-rescuers. These devices help people to get out of the smoke zone or wait for the fire fighters. This year, self-rescuers produced for Moscow companies have been equipped with RFID tags. These devices have become one of the most innovative in the world, as in case of emergency, emergency services instantly receive information about the number of people who made it to leave the building on fire and those still inside. RFID tags will also help in detecting people: they show the location of a person with a 10m accuracy.
Emergency RFID tags have successfully passed the test during emergency drills.
"Digital solutions in the field of safety facilitate control of the evacuation process by the administration, and fire and rescue units, and increase the efficiency of operations in emergencies at overcrowded facilities," explained Gulnara Khasyanova, Director General of Micron.
A subsidiary of one of the top-ranked Russian banks was the first to integrate it into its security system of office spaces. Late this spring, it passed a successful test: during the mass evacuation drill, RFID tags has been read and integrated into the database in real time, which made it possible to track the time and number of evacuated employees, determine the estimated number of people who have failed to leave the facility, and take timely steps to rescue them.
Both rescue equipment and firefighting equipment manufacturers, as well as public authorities are interested in this project, EMERCOM, in particular.
Smart cabinet for valuables
Another Micron's know-how is the RFID tag based system of secure storage, a smart cabinet. It allows to control access to documents, service weapons, medicines, keys and other accountable items.
"RFID allows tracking who was the last to access a stored item, which items have been taken, returned or still used. This is especially important for critical infrastructure facilities, as well as enterprises and institutions that have dangerous or valuable items to store,'' said Artur Temirov, developer's representative.
Smart cabinet can be useful anywhere. For example, in a medical facility to store drugs, or at public transport stations, in lobbies to keep personal belongings. The cabinet is equipped with a door-opening sensor, data antennas and RFID readers. If a user takes an unauthorised item, the alarm goes off.
"Such developments in microelectronics are an example of successful import substitution. The RFID system uses a unique Russian component base, which allows not only to ensure information security of products, but also to compete with the existing western analogues," Vladimir Yefimov said.
For all industries
RFID-tagging is widespread in all economy sectors, as Head of the Moscow City Department of Investment and Industrial Policy Alexander Prokhorov noted. In particular, it is used for inventory, brand protection and counterfeit control, automation of technological processes, warehouse and trade logistics, automation of enterprises and institutions, control and management of access to various facilities.
"It is important that the developers strive for more, they keep offering new solutions to apply this technology. SEZ residents get the opportunity to invest more in innovations thanks to tax benefits and the free customs zone regime. The Moscow Government has been actively implementing measures to support modern enterprises, bringing the Moscow industry to a brand-new level," Alexander Prokhorov added.
Moscow Technopolis special economic zone (SEZ) includes five sites with four of them located in Zelenograd and one in Pechatniki. SEZ comprises a number of high-tech industries such as microelectronics, optics, robotics, medical technology and equipment. It also produces new composite materials. Some SEZ enterprises are engaged in the development of information, communication and energy-efficient technologies, including nanotechnology. There are even companies specialising in orthopaedic footwear manufacture.
SEZ residents enjoy tax incentives such as zero tax rate on income, property, land and transport. Also, it is a customs-free zone. The money companies have saved on tax payments can be invested to develop production, purchase equipment, introduce innovation, and enter international markets.