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Daher Aerospace Expands RFID Usage Throughout Supply Chain
The U.K.-based aerospace manufacturing and logistical services company and its customers are using passive UHF tags and readers to track its containers' location and status.
The company tested the RFID technology with read-related data stored on a cloud-based server, prior to installing the solution in a permanent deployment at the end of 2013. "An exhaustive test of all aspects of the system—hardware and software—has been done to check the solution before the 'go live,'" Innocenti says.
First, a Smartrac DogBone tag is applied to each box's exterior. The unique ID number encoded to the tag is then linked to that box's serial number in the Waer software.
As Daher receives empty containers returning from an assembly site for the purpose of cleaning and maintenance, the company reads the tags and updates the containers' status as "in." If a container must be placed in quarantine—meaning it requires specific servicing—its tag is again read to indicate which process the container is undergoing. Several other points in the cleaning and maintenance process also include interrogating the tags via a fixed reader. Daher Aerospace and its suppliers are utilizing Motorola Solutions FX7400 readers.
"[Read] locations can be added at any time if required," Innocenti states. Prior to the new system's installation, RFID read data was managed via spreadsheets and had to be manually checked by personnel at that location. Not only does the Waer software manage data indicating where containers are located, but it is also designed to ensure that each kit is shipped appropriately. When an aircraft parts supplier prepares to ship a kit back to Daher's maintenance site, the kit passes an RFID reader. If the software detects that the kit is missing some of its containers, it can issue an alert indicating which containers are absent.
Since the new UHF-based system was taken live last November, Innocenti says, Daher has streamlined the operation and administration of data related to the movements of containers. The system reduces the risk of human error, both at the Daher plant and at supplier sites, and enables the collected information to be shared between Daher, its customers and suppliers, thereby ensuring that containers are located where they are expected to be.
In the future, Daher intends to install touchscreens at read locations. This, the company explains, will enable employees to enter such data as the quantity of containers and validation of an action at each read point.
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