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RFID Smooths Production for Oil-Pipe Manufacturer

Tejas Tubular Products, a provider of drill pipes and other products to the oil industry, is using EPC Gen 2 tags to help track and streamline the production process.
By Beth Bacheldor
Sep 05, 2007Tejas Tubular Products, a provider of drill pipes and other products and services to the oil industry, is employing RFID technology to help track production, validate quality and boost efficiencies in its manufacturing operations.

Montreal-based Ship2Save implemented the system, which went live last month at the company's Houston plant. The systemincorporates 915 MHz EPC Class 1 Gen 2 passive RFID tags and interrogators, as well as Ship2Save's Operation Management System (S2S-OMS) middleware, designed to manage the RFID hardware and share RFID data with back-end systems, such as Tejas Tubular Products' material requirements planning (MRP) system.

Drill pipes and other products are shrinkwrapped and their RFID tags read.

"Traceability is very important for us in this industry," says Maximo Tejeda, president of Tejas Tubular Products. Every product the company makes must be certified according to the American Petroleum Institute, which requires manufacturers in the industry to provide a documented history for each product. That history must trace back to the specific heat number assigned to a particular batch of steel, which identifies its origin and chemical makeup.

"When fulfilling a work order, we have to track everything through processing to make sure a batch doesn't get mixed with other batches," Tejeda explains. "We produce steel to different grades. Different wells in oil fields, for example, are set to different depths. You don't want a product designed for a 6,000-foot well to end up in an 18,000-foot well, because then you are looking at product failure."

The RFID system helps the company track production, validate quality and boost efficiencies in its manufacturing operations.

To track production, employees affix a plastic-laminated paper work order bearing an RFID tag to each pallet containing the steel used to make the products needed to fulfill that work order. The tag is encoded with a unique ID number, the number of which is associated, in the Tejas Tubular Products MRP system, with the requisite processing instructions for that order. As the pallets containing the steel sheets move through the production process, RFID interrogators read the tags to access the instructions, which workers can then read on their mobile computers. "This assures that product movement is happening in the proper sequence," says Konrad Konarski, Ship2Save's director of alliances.

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