Water Leakage inside Vehicles - a Thing of the Past

Window seals, weather stripping and body seams are the primary causes of factory water leakage inside cars. Those leaks will soon become a thing of the past, as SMARTRAC launched the first-ever passive water sensor that works on metal surfaces like the harsh environment of an automobile chassis. The solution is successfully being tested in high-end OEM cars, ensuring that cars leaving the factory are completely watertight, and may also find further industry applications in aviation manufacture, shipbuilding or liquid packaging.


SMARTRAC has teamed up with chip manufacturer RFMicron to develop a passive UHF sensor tag that is deployed inside cars during assembly. It can detect even small amounts of water leakage inside vehicle compartments, protecting the car from water leakage that can damage the electronics bays, cabins and trunks. This is becoming ever more important for manufacturers, as more and more hybrid and electric cars are produced that require enhanced protection for their electronic circuitry and electrical components.


SMARTRAC’s Sensor Tadpole tag works flawlessly on metal surfaces, with minimum signal degradation from surrounding structures. The on-metal passive sensor tag has a strong adhesive and small, slim form factor, which makes for easy deployment on difficult surfaces. The detection area can be extended by using a wicking tail that guides moisture to the sensor tag. This enables even minute amounts of water to be detected quickly, easily and reliably, allowing manufacturers to identify the source of a leak.


The use of a passive sensor means that the tag requires no power source, servicing or replacing. The energy comes from the hand-held reader, or optionally from a gate reader, which scans vehicles as they pass through the final quality-check areas of the factory production line.


“The use of RFMicron’s Magnus® S2 Sensor IC enables a reliable alternative to today’s manually intensive and error-prone water intrusion testing process with an automated, cost-effective, scalable moisture-sensor solution” said Shahriar Rokhsaz, President and CEO of RFMicron. “The benefits of the sensor solution are cost savings, faster and more accurate water intrusion detection and improved customer satisfaction, as vehicles that escape factory water intrusion testing result in significant field repair costs and cause irreparable damage to a manufacturer’s reputation.”


Advanced Technology

The sensor tag features RFMicron’s Magnus S2 Sensor IC, with its patented Chameleon™ technology, which is used to sense moisture or pressure. Sensing capabilities are supplied without the need for batteries or an external power source – as the IC uses UHF energy harvested from the reader. The tag’s antenna transforms environmental data into an impedance change, and then the sensor tag IC translates this into a sensor code, as it dynamically matches antenna impedance to die impedance.


Designed as a low-cost solution to the challenge of sensing applications in high-volume deployments, each IC is supplied with a 5-bit sensor code to report any changes in its local environment. They also carry a unique TID (Tag Identification), and offer extremely stable performance over an unlimited lifetime.


Detect Leakage Quicker and More Secure


First Deployment Already on the Road

The first commercial deployment of Sensor Tadpole is already being piloted. Project-managed by automation partner Turck, a German OEM is currently testing the passive sensor tag in high-end cars to ensure that they leave the factory watertight. Future applications for Sensor Tadpole could include the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, where monitoring water leakage is of obvious importance.


According to Walter Hein, Business Development Manager RFID at Turck, “SMARTRAC’s Sensor Tadpole and Turck’s BL ident RFID System are an ideal solution to the problem of sensing water levels inside metal structures, so we chose the automotive industry for a first pilot scheme. Car manufacturers want to ensure that their vehicles’ passenger cabins, trunks and electronics bays are completely watertight before they are sent out to dealerships, and this innovative sensor product does the job perfectly.”


The tag can be delivered pre-encoded if needed. The unique TID, EPC and sensor code offer the opportunity to manage and collate the information received from the tag using SMARTRAC’s Smart Cosmos Cloud Services platform. This is an interesting option for manufacturers wishing to track the performance of components or to improve quality management.


Sensor Tadpole is available in white wet singulated format, and with a die-cut size of 21.5 x 73.0 mm; either as a standalone tag, or with different tail options. The tag suits all converting-industry needs and complies with all relevant industry standards and strict quality control parameters.


For further information about this RFID solution and its potential applications, please contact our sales and customer service.