NFC Technology

What is NFC?

Near field communication (NFC) describes a technology which can be used for the non-contact exchange of data over short distances. Two NFC-capable devices are connected via a point-to-point contact. This contact is then used to exchange data between the devices.

Schmalz vacuum technology collects data directly from the process. This stored data is transmitted to the smartphone via the international standard NFC. No separate energy source is required for transmission. The energy is provided by the smartphone, which energizes a coil in the Schmalz product. The coil induces a voltage in a processor, which then transmits its information via an antenna.

The data is only displayed on a website on the smartphone. Process data is displayed on the smartphone together with maintenance and service information. Soon writing and configuration using the controller will be possible via NFC. This means that parameters can be set on the smartphone and transmitted to the Schmalz product via NFC. A smartphone app will be required for configuration.

NFC technology is currently enabled on selected android phones. Please check your smartphone's operating instructions to confirm whether you can use NFC. 

Security

Schmalz has decided to use NFC technology across its products. This is primarily due to the direct assignment of the product to the smartphone using the short transmission path. There is no risk of inadvertently configuring a neighboring device.

In contrast to NFC, all Bluetooth connections are visible within a radius of 10 meters. Bluetooth also requires a separate energy source. NFC connects two devices over a short distance (0 to 2 cm). This means that the devices almost need to be touching. The NFC tags on Schmalz products are marked with a corresponding logo to indicate where the contact has to take place.

The point-to-point contact transmits data from the Schmalz product to the smartphone. The system operator can now evaluate the data on the smartphone and adjust the settings.

If new parameters are transmitted from the smartphone to the Schmalz product, the new parameter values need to be released by the controller. The controller always retains control over the data.

Visible data

Both static data as well as dynamic data, such as process data or error information, is transmitted. The real data is stored in a small memory in the Schmalz product and transmitted at the relevant time. The limited memory capacity means that the real data may be a few minutes or hours old.

Static information:

  • Device information
  • Serial number
  • Operating instructions

Dynamic data:

  • Process data, such as switching points
  • Errors in plain text

Configuring via NFC

Schmalz products will soon be able to be configured via a smartphone. Until then, all parameters from the control level can be set via the IO link interface.

All NFC-capable products can naturally also be configured via other media. For example, using the controller, the product keypad, or the Schmalz Smart Device Interface (SDI).

Schmalz Products with NFC

NFC is an extremely popular international technology. The technology will become increasingly prevalent in Schmalz products. The following products currently have an integrated NFC chip:

Vacuum and Pressure Switches VSi
New

Vacuum and Pressure Switches VSi

  • Electronic vacuum and pressure switch with and without display
  • Measuring range: -1 to 10 bar
  • Switching function: PNP, NPN

Frequently asked questions

What does NFC stand for?
NFC stands for “near field communication”. It is a standard for exchanging data between different devices over short distances. Its most well known application is the mobile payment, where payments are made by cell phone.

How does the NFC technology work?
The technology is based on RFID. A passive receiver (NFC tag) contains the information to be read. If the user holds the sending device (smartphone) up to this radio tag, a connection is established and the information is sent automatically.

What distinguishes NFC from other wireless technologies like Bluetooth and WLAN?
NFC has a significantly lower operating range of just a few centimeters. Another distinguishing feature is the establishment of the connection: While for Bluetooth and WLAN the connection of two devices must be established manually by the user, for NFC the communication takes place automatically due to the physical proximity of the sender and receiver.

What are the benefits of NFC?
Thanks to the short transmission paths, NFC allows for the direct and unique assignment of the sender and recipient. There is no risk of incorrect parameterization of a neighboring device. Furthermore, NFC does not need its own power supply. The energy required is created by the smartphone through induction.

How close do I have to be to the component to establish a connection?
The devices connect at a distance of 0-2 cm. Please hold the NFC tag on your smartphone as close as possible to the NFC logo on your Schmalz product.

Do I have to install an app on the smartphone?
An app is not required as long as you just wish to read data from your Schmalz product. A website with all the relevant information opens as soon as you connect your smartphone to the Schmalz product.

An app needs to be installed if you wish to configure your product using your smartphone. This function is coming soon.

Which devices from Schmalz support NFC?
Currently, NFC is supported by the vacuum and pressure switches in the VS/VSi series and the compact terminal SCTMi. The technology continues to be rolled out in additional products.

What data is transferred?
Schmalz transfers a range of information for the purpose of identifying (e.g. a serial number) and parameterizing (basic and process settings such as the display unit and switching points) its devices and for diagnos-tics (e.g. error messages).

Which devices/smartphones currently support NFC?
The following smartphones support NFC:
BlackBerry, Google Nexus, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung Galaxy, Sony Xperia. The iPhone 6 has a NFC chip, but this cannot be used by third parties. As a result, we are only offering our app for android phones for the time being.

Does NFC have to be enabled in the smartphone?
NFC is enabled differently for each manufacturer. It can typically be found in your device settings, near the WLAN settings.

Who controls the data: Input via the controller or via NFC?
Input via the controller.

The parameter values generally have equal rights. The system operator can use the controller via OI link to set whether to accept the values transmitted via NFC.

How can I find the NFC tag on my Schmalz product and on my smartphone?
The NFC chip is identified by a logo on the Schmalz product. A symbol may also be attached to the smartphone, depending on the specific manufacturer. Please read the instructions provided with your smartphone.

Can NFC be used for writing or just for reading?
Data can currently be read out from the Schmalz product via NFC. Configuration will be possible shortly.

Is internet required to use NFC?
You need an internet connection to display the website. An app, which will also allow the contents to be displayed offline, is coming soon.