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Lithuanian Manufacturer Tracks IKEA-bound Furniture
SC Freda is attaching EPC Gen 2 tags to each item it makes, and monitoring the status of its products as they move into storage and onto trucks, thereby improving efficiency in warehouse management, shipping and production.
Nov 03, 2010—SC Freda, one of Lithuania's largest furniture manufacturers, produces wood furniture such as tables, dressers and cabinets for living rooms and bedrooms. For the past three years, the firm has sold its products exclusively to IKEA, to be sold in the retailer's stores worldwide. The company ships an average of 10,000 pallets loaded with furniture every month, with 800 items loaded onto a total of 15 to 20 trucks on any given day.
In August 2010, SC Freda began employing radio frequency identification to track furniture destined for IKEA, with the goal of reducing shipping errors and labor costs as workers moved the products into a warehouse and then onto trucks. But beyond warehouse accuracy and labor reduction, the company hoped to achieve benefits in production efficiency as well.
The RFID system, provided by Lithuanian integrator Autepra, also enables the firm's management to track when items are produced and shipped out, and to thereby know when a specific type of product needs to be manufactured. That is a critical benefit, says Virginijus Brundza, SC Freda's production manager, since the warehouse is relatively small, and the company wants to ensure not only that it has sufficient finished products on hand to fill orders, but also that it does not produce excess items that need to be stored on site. The system consists of EPC Gen 2 passive RFID tags (attached to stretch wrap surrounding each item), a reader at the point of tagging those goods, a portal reader at the loading dock, and a forklift with an on-board computer so that the forklift operator, while loading a truck, can view order updates, based on RFID reads. Proringas, which provided SC Freda's existing Pragma enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, contributed software to manage RFID data, and integrated it with the firm's back-end system.
In addition, there was the potential for shipping mistakes, such as the incorrect quantity of products being sent to a particular location. When an error occurs, Brundza says, SC Freda receives an invoice for the cost of reshipping the necessary product. With the new system, he hopes to reduce the number of man-hours spent counting the items produced each day, as well as tracking which goods are loaded onto which trucks. What's more, he hopes to reduce the rate of errors.
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