Medical Consumables Tracking (Medical Consumables Tracking) - 09.17.14
ISS Science for Everyone
Science Objectives for Everyone
Medical Consumables Tracking 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
OpNom Medical Consumables Tracking
ZIN Technologies Incorporated, Middleburg Heights, OH, United States
Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States
Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)
ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - Ongoing
Previous ISS Missions
The research is needed to assist in determining the quantity of medicine and medical supplies needed for long duration missions.
The research provides tracking capability to know what medicine or medical supplies have been used and what is available to the crew.
The impact from the research tracks the ability to have the proper supplies available in the necessary quantities for ISS and long duration missions.
The demonstration also help to refine the use of RFID technology in tracking a large number of RFID tags in a small confined space.
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, and ear plugs, will have RFID tags, each of which is programmed with an unique identifier. The RFID tag contains a chip and an antenna. RF energy from the reader antennas will activate 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 medical consumables drawer door on the CHeCS RSR. The antenna enclosures are located within the drawer, and contains the antennas used to read the RFID tags located on the consumable items. Finally, the cables will connect the antenna enclosures to the electronics box.
The installation of the MCT hardware require the crew to remove the contents of the drawer, and install the antenna enclosures on the inner walls of the drawer. Next, the electronics box is mounted onto the outer surface of the drawer 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 then returns the original contents to the drawer and installs batteries in the electronics box. Finally, the crew initiates a read of the RFID tags by pressing a button on the electronics box. The RFID 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 pressing the button, if desired. The system runs autonomously, with the exception of periodic battery change outs which are required every 3 to 4 scans.
The impact from this research is the ability to have the proper supplies available in the necessary quantities for ISS and long duration missions. The demonstration also helps to refine the use of RFID technology in tracking a large number of RFID tags in a small confined space, and shows the ability to track a large number of densely populated RFID tags in a microgravity environment.
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.
The investigation will use a smart cabinet concept, equipped with an RFID/antenna system that can detect and transmit the contents, which could be used on Earth. 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.
After installation the system runs autonomously with the exception of battery change out. The crew changes out two Canon BP-930 or 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.
On-orbit procedures cover the installation of the system and battery replacement. The system runs autonomously including any software updates.