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RFID Platform Tracks HP Brazil's Manufacturing, Distribution

The company's cloud-based platform, Exceler8 - Innovating Industry 4.0, provides visibility into status of the desktop, laptop and tablet PCs it produces—yielding a range of benefits.
By Edson Perin

Exceler8 - Innovating Industry 4.0, the result of HP Brazil's more than 10 years' worth of investment in research and development projects related to RFID technology, uses software conforming to GS1's Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS) standard, to provide traceability and visibility of all processes, from manufacturing by Flextronics to distribution by logistics partners.

To generate events in the EPCIS repository, HP has deployed product flow control systems along its assembly line in Brazil, using RFID tags applied to desktop, laptop and tablet computers. RFID readers track these products in the assembly and packaging areas, and in the shipping area, where they are placed on pallets, and that information is sent directly to the EPCIS database. The data can then be displayed in real time by dashboards customized according to each area's profile.

Another advantage, HP reports, is that GS1's standards are known worldwide and can be applied and used in several countries. In addition, in order to enable interoperability between RFID systems, HP employed GS1's Low Level Reader Protocol (LLRP) during the project's development, so that other commercial readers could be used, thereby making the solution independent of specific and unique suppliers, ultimately lowering costs.

HP Brazil actively collaborated with FIT during the development process, regarding the application of RFID technology and studies on the processes of material planning, production and storage, running on Flextronics' plant in Sorocaba. Although the financial details of the initiative are confidential, HP indicates that the platform is generating many benefits, including improvements in product delivery times. The company also cites innovation among the project's achievements, as new features were added to HP's manufacturing process, thereby increasing flexibility in the real-time exchange of information between sales, factory and logistics, due to the use of RFID technology.

As for its next steps, HP Brazil says it plans to expand the Exceler8 platform's capacity to generate metrics, reports and features, supporting other areas of the company, such as planning, sales and engineering. The Exceler8 platform will continue to take data captured in the manufacturing area to the cloud and make that information accessible not only by the existing web interface, but also via smartphones applications. Thus, any company personnel, especially the sales team, will have the same information available to them in real time, for both PCs and mobile phones.

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