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RFID Opens the Door to Automation at Pandoor

The Israeli door manufacturer is affixing passive UHF tags to the wood planks it uses to make its products, employing RFID data to instruct the automatic manufacturing process.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 22, 2014

Israeli company Pandoor Doors is expanding a radio frequency identification system that it had deployed last year to automate the crafting of custom doors for its customers. By applying tags, provided by global packaging and RFID label company Tadbik, to the wooden planks that become custom-made doors, and by deploying RFID readers at the conveyors, the company can then automatically inform its robotic system regarding which processes to carry out in order to meet each customer's requirements.

Pandoor, the largest interior door manufacturer in Israel, describes itself as one of the world's largest manufacturers of Italian-style doors. Since 2002, the company has been designing and building Italian-style interior doors at a facility in Israel. The firm allows each customer to select various options—including the model, colors, glass and fittings—to create a door that suits that individual's home or building and budget. Options include 17 colors, 13 sizes and three height options, as well as variations of decoration combinations. In addition, it began offering its Unique line of water-resistant doors and frames made from polymeric materials, rather than wood, in 2011.

A robotic arm picks up an unfinished wood plank and places it on one of the conveyors, where a Feig RFID reader captures the plank's tag ID number.
In the past, workers had to manually set computer-controlled cutting machines known as computer numerical control (CNC) routers, which make grooves in the wood. Operators chose the proper router settings for each door being produced. In 2013, however, the company opened a new automated factory in Kiryat Gat, says Anatoly Vays, Pandoor's VP of production. By shifting the manufacturing to an automated system, he explains, the firm sought to better accommodate the large number of orders in a timely manner. Manual labor not only slowed production, he explains, but also exposed the company to the potential for errors.

To enable the automation, Pandoor created software to manage data related to each order, which employs RFID to identify a particular order as the pre-fabricated door approaches the router, which can then change its settings according to that order. "It was clear that RFID will be part of the new automated factory," Vays says, so the company designed the software to manage RFID-based data. It then installed readers, beginning with a few at the automated routers, though it is now expanding their use to the paint area as well.

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