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Carrier Takes Manufacturing to a Higher Level

The manufacturer of heating and ventilation equipment used RFID technology to make a highly efficient plant even more efficient.
By Mark Roberti
Jun 02, 2013

I have offered presentations to many high-level executives at big companies looking to understand what radio frequency identification can do for their operations. I tell them they have squeezed so much inefficiency out of their organizations with the information technology they've invested in that there is little more than can be done without implementing a new technology, such as RFID.

Some organizations already get this. At RFID Journal LIVE! 2013, Balaji Suresh, the materials manager of UTC Climate, Controls and Security at Carrier, presented a case study about how his company took a highly efficient, highly complex, vertically integrated manufacturing operation and made it even better.

Carrier manufactures heating and ventilation equipment. The factory produces a wide variety of products, and finishes a unit every five seconds. "It's a high-velocity environment, and we have applied a lot of lean manufacturing techniques," he told the audience. "And we've been recognized for manufacturing excellence. In 2011, we were an Industry Week Best Plant."

In 2009, the company conducted a trial of RFID technology on a production line, to confirm that every tag could be read every time. There could be no exceptions in a highly controlled factory environment. When testing proved that 100 percent tag reads were possible, Suresh decided to go ahead with the project. Its goals were to improve safety and efficiency in shipping, streamline assembly, make it error-proof and build an infrastructure that would support future factory enhancements.

The business benefits were clearly analyzed and quantified, and the team received approval to invest "hundreds of thousands of dollars." It took nine months to take the system live. The company received a return on its investment in less than two years.

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