Medical Consumables Tracking (Medical Consumables Tracking) - 08.12.15

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Medical Consumables Tracking will use radio-frequency identification codes to track medicines and medical supplies on board the International Space Station. Ground managers will be able to track which medical supplies are being used, and how many remain. Results will also help managers determine how many medicines and supplies will be necessary for long-duration space missions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Sam W. Hussey, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Medical Consumables Tracking

Principal Investigator(s)
John T. Zoldak, ZIN Technologies, Cleveland, OH, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Information Pending

Developer(s)
NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States
ZIN Technologies Incorporated, Cleveland, OH, United States
NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration 1
March 2015 - September 2015

Expeditions Assigned
43/44

Previous ISS Missions
Medical Consumables Tracking hardware was flight certified and launched on SpaceX-7; however, the hardware was lost when SpaceX-7 failed to achieve orbit.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • This research is needed to assist in determining the quantity of medicine and medical supplies needed for long duration missions and provide a tracking capability to know what medicine or medical supplies have been used and what is available to the crew.
  • This investigation is expected to improve our ability to have the proper supplies available in the necessary quantities for ISS and long duration missions and help refine the use of RFID technology in tracking a large number of RFID tags in a small confined space.

Description
Medical Consumables Tracking is a hardware demonstration project that uses RFID technology to track medications and medical consumables on ISS. This investigation is needed to assist in determining the quantity of medicine and medical supplies needed for long duration missions and provide tracking capability to know what medicine or medical supplies have been used and what is available to the crew.

 

The Medical Consumables Tracking (MCT) system uses an electronic identification system comprised of a commercial off the shelf (COTS) Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) reader/scanner/interrogator, antennas, a transponder (RFID tag), and a single board computer. Medications within the Convenience Medication Pack will have RFID tags, each of which is programmed with a unique identifier. The RFID tag contains a chip and an antenna. RF energy from the reader antennas activates the integrated circuit on the RFID tag, and the RFID tag transmits its information back to the reader antenna.

 

When a crew member needs a medication or medical consumable, he or she removes the Convenience Medication Pack from the CHeCS RSR locker. After the crew member accesses the kit and removes a medication or medical consumable, the kit is placed back into the locker. The system is programmed to interrogate the kits every 30 days. At that time, the system updates the status of the medications and medical consumables in the kits. Any item that was initially there, but not recorded when the kit is inventoried, is marked as removed from inventory. The inventory data is stored in a data file after the inventory scan is completed.

 

The hardware consists of an electronics box, two antenna enclosures and four cables. The electronics box houses the main circuitry for the hardware and is located on the outside of the door of the CHeCS RSR. The antenna enclosures are located within the locker and contain the antennas used to read the RFID tags located on the consumable items. The cables connect the antenna enclosures to the electronics box.

 

The installation of the MCT hardware requires the crew to remove the contents of the locker and install the antenna enclosures on the inner walls of the locker. Next, the electronics box is mounted onto the outer surface of the locker door using two plates and 12 captive fasteners. The cables are then attached to the antenna enclosures and the electronics box. After installation of the hardware, the crew returns the original contents to the locker and installs batteries in the electronics box. Finally, the crew initiates a read of the RFID tags by using a toggle switch on the electronics box. The RFID tag numbers are then sent to the Joint Station LAN via wireless connectivity and downlinked to the ground for verification of hardware operations.

 

After the initial installation, the hardware performs an automated scan of the RFID tags every 30 days. Scans can also be initiated by the crew at any time by using a toggle switch, if desired. The system runs autonomously, with the exception of periodic battery change outs which are required every 3 to 4 scans.

 

This research is expected to improve our ability to have the proper supplies available in the necessary quantities for ISS and long duration missions. This investigation also helps to refine the use of RFID technology in tracking a large number of RFID tags in a small confined space and demonstrates the ability to track a large number of densely populated RFID tags in a microgravity environment.

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Applications

Space Applications
The Medical Consumables Tracking demonstration will help flight surgeons determine which medicines and supplies crew members are using, and how much are still available. This could help provide information on cargo decisions for future long-duration missions by determining which supplies are necessary, and in what quantities.

Earth Applications
The investigation will use a smart cabinet concept, equipped with an RFID/antenna system that can detect and transmit the contents. It will also determine the feasibility of using many RFID tags in a small, confined space. This technology could be useful in warehouses, hospitals and a variety of other settings where remotely monitoring inventory is important.

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Operations

Operational Requirements
After installation, the system runs autonomously with the exception of battery change out. The crew changes out two Canon BP-955 batteries as needed (approximately every 3 to 4 scans). The data files are transferred automatically to the ISS JSL. The data is then sent to the ground for review and use by the appropriate medical community.

Operational Protocols
On-orbit procedures cover the installation of the system and battery replacement.  The system runs autonomously including any software updates.

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Imagery

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Medical Consumables Tracking Electronics Box Panel w/battery holder door open

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Medical Consumables Tracking Antenna with cables

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Front view of Medical Consumables Tracking Electronics Box Panel

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Manual Switch and Service Switches on Medical Consumables Tracking Electronics Box

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Medical Consumables Tracking Electronics Box Panel installed on Mockup

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