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RFID Boosts Safety and Efficiency at UTC Climate, Controls and Security

At RFID Journal LIVE! 2013, the materials manager at the company—which manufactures Carrier air-conditioners—described the process of identifying and implementing a radio frequency identification system at its Tennessee plant.
By Claire Swedberg

RFID readers, each equipped with two antennas, were installed at each of the plant's assembly lines, as well as at the shipping dock doors. Staff members were provided with handheld interrogators for troubleshooting purposes.

Once the tagged units leave the assembly line, a forklift picks up a load of units and transports them to the shipping area. Readers mounted above the dock doors read the forklift's tag, as well as those of the components, and forwards that data to the company's back-end software. The forklift driver views the read results (indicating which goods his or her vehicle is carrying) on a tablet computer, along with confirmation if the units meet all shipping criteria.

Personnel utilize the handheld readers to search for missing items, or to perform any additional servicing on a particular item. They can also read a unit's bar code, in the event that an RFID tag is damaged and cannot be read.

The system was taken live in September 2011, Suresh reported, and the company expects a return on its investment in less than two years.

According to Suresh, CCS' goals were to improve safety and efficiency during shipping, mistake-proof component assembly, streamline some assembly processes and build infrastructure for future capability. The solution, he noted, has accomplished of all these goals.

To date, Suresh reported, there has been significant hazard reduction, since individuals within the shipping area no longer need to manually check items being shipped at high-traffic areas, such as dock doors. What's more, the incidence of assembly errors has also been decreased, since the system identifies when an incorrect component is being used at the time that the mistake occurs.

In the future, Suresh said he hopes to further utilize the RFID data to find ways in which to improve efficiency and productivity.

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