Case Studies

RFID for Medical Device Manufacturers

Strict product lifecycle and sterilization requirements were creating end user issues and high warranty costs for a major manufacturer of medical device systems. Fortunately, Vizinex RFID was there to help.

The manufacturer in question produces systems that include high-precision end effectors, like endoscopes, that touch or are inserted into patients’ bodies. These end effectors must be cleaned and sterilized prior to use in another procedure.

Because the end effectors have particular characteristics and life cycles, information about the effectors is stored in an embedded chip. This allows the host instrument to correctly identify the effector and its characteristics, and to know the life cycle status of the effector. Each effector has an effective life, and if the device goes beyond the planned life or number of autoclave cycles, it must be retired from service. This is facilitated by the on-board chip.

In early generations of the system, the chip was hard-wired to a connector on the effector, which mated to a connector on the host. Unfortunately, repeated autoclave cycles oxidized these connectors – occasionally causing unreliable connections between the host instrument and the end effector. For safety’s sake, any device with this communication error would have to be removed from service, causing operational problems for the customer and imposing warranty costs on the manufacturer.

The Solution: Vizinex RFID

The demanding life cycle and reliability standards and data integrity requirements are tailor-made for a non-contact secure data link such as that enabled by certain RFID technologies.

Vizinex worked with the manufacturer to develop a solution that eliminated all hard wiring and interconnects between the host and effector. This was accomplished by mounting a reader antenna at the connection point between the system and the end effector and placing a high-memory HF RFID tag in each effector.

Elimination of all hard wiring and interconnects between the host and effector was accomplished by mounting a reader antenna at the connection point between the system and the end effector and placing a high-memory HF RFID tag in each effector.

The host can now read and write to the effector’s RFID’s memory wirelessly, and critical information can be read and stored without an unreliable electrical connection. The RFID chip includes a powerful encryption engine, so the wireless communication is secure – even through dozens of autoclave cycles, thanks to Vizinex’s extensive experience with high-temperature applications.

The newfound reliability isn’t the only benefit of the RFID program. There is potential to develop RFID enabled device storage cases, which could automate inventory management for end customers – telling them continuously and in real time the number of devices on hand, the life cycle status of each device and whether more effectors need to be ordered.

If you have a challenging RFID tag application, contact us today and realize the benefits of Vizinex RFID.

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