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Walter Knoll Boosts Accuracy for Product Shipment, Returns

The German furniture company is using a UHF passive RFID system to track when its products are manufactured, stored at its warehouse, shipped or returned, increasing the accuracy and efficiency of its supply chain.
By Claire Swedberg

The avus Services software collects read data and enables Walter Knoll's managers to know where each piece of furniture is located in Herrenberg, as well as when the items arrive or leave the manufacturing site or the Mötzingen warehouse. The software also tracks which furniture is dedicated for trial delivery. When a trial item returns from a customer, the warehouse staff reads the tags and can then enter any data about the furniture's condition, thereby creating an electronic record of when each item was returned, and whether it requires repair.

Once the data is received by the avus Services software, it is then forwarded to Walter Knoll's proAlpha management system, in which shipping order data is stored.

"The complete data exchange between the RFID solution and the production system," Weiss explains, "is conducted between the avus server and the [proAlpha] systems of Walter Knoll."

Using the RFID-based solution, Weiss says, makes it much easier for Walter Knoll to identify the trial furniture and verify that the correct item is being shipped or received. What's more, because staff members can examine a returned piece of furniture and enter any data regarding its condition directly into the system via the handheld reader, the company has a more accurate record of each item's condition and when it requires repair.

Furthermore, Weiss says, "Walter Knoll can easily take inventory at any time now," by having workers walk through the manufacturing site or warehouse equipped with a handheld reader.

In the future, the company hopes to use the technology to help personnel identify goods during the picking process, as well as link a specific item with the identification number of the truck onto which it is loaded (by manually keying the vehicle's ID number into the system and then reading the RFID tags of all goods loaded onto it). Down the line, the firm also hopes to extend the system for use by sales staff at furniture stores.

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