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Device Maker Deploys Item-Level RFID Across Supply Chain

SonicWALL, a provider of network security devices, is using RFID to provide item-level visibility into its extended supply chain.
Jul 30, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 30, 2008—SonicWALL, a provider of network security devices and services, is using an item-level RFID system to track inventory from its suppliers throughout the company's extended supply chain.

Sunnyvale, California-based SonicWALL designs, develops and manufactures network security and remote access appliances and solutions. The company sources its hardware products from a number of contract manufacturers across the globe.

SonicWALL is using InSync Software's Edgeware platform and Asset Tracking Solution, in combination with RFID equipment from Alien Technology and Motorola, to provide real-time visibility into its inventory. InSync is managing the end-to-end deployment of the solution across SonicWALL's supply chain.

The company hopes to reduce in-transit times and lead times, lower inventory levels, and better manage the performance of its original device manufacturers (ODMs, or suppliers). They chose the InSync solution because of its ability to integrate item-level process information from its suppliers into its existing ERP system.

"Their basic need was for real-time visibility of inventory as it proceeded through the manufacturing process," says Yashpaul Dogra, vice president of product marketing and strategy at InSync. "We thought RFID would be a very effective solution for managing to that level of visibility."

InSync provided the RFID software and hardware components to SonicWALL's suppliers. The company receives real-time information about its shipments via RFID readers deployed at its suppliers' facilities, and at a third-party logistics (3PL) provider warehouse.

Passive EPC Gen2 UHF RFID labels containing item-specific product information and a unique identifier are applied to the product shells of each device by the ODM near the end of the manufacturing process, and scanned as they leave the facility. The labels are read again when shipments enter and exit the 3PL warehouse, and when they arrive at SonicWALL's facility in Fremont, California.

The InSync Edgeware platform allows operators to configure, monitor and maintain the RFID devices at the manufacturing and distribution facilities, while the Asset Tracking Solution analyzes the data from all locations.

The software sends that data to SonicWALL's inventory tracking system. It also automatically sends event notices and messages, and triggers alerts when necessary. Dashboard views allow the company to track inventory route, history, and condition, and view real-time inventory levels in remote locations and in-transit.

"Our solution is integrated with several systems within SonicWALL so we can bring that information in from the back end to understand the complete manufacturing process," Dogra says. "We can drill down into the history of all of the manufacturing steps and processes that have occurred to an individual box, and also capture additional information from the readers at the chokepoints so we know when those items are moving into specific locations."

"We chose InSync Software for its ability to provide a single dashboard view of all inventory locations," said Atul Dhablania, vice president of operations for SonicWALL, in a press release. "InSync's solution has delivered this real-time visibility and has additionally allowed us to better manage our ODMs by providing us with indisputable performance metrics."
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