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ShelfAware RFID System Brings Visibility to Industrial Components

O-ring's newly patented system allows the supplier and its customers to track which components are onsite at any given time, via an RFID tag on each part, as well as readers at the storage area to identify when parts arrive at and leave the area.
By Claire Swedberg

In 2016, O-ring installed the ShelfAware system at Eskridge. O-ring personnel tagged all products onsite with Alien Technology Squiggle UHF RFID tags, as well as those being sold to Eskridge. Two kiosks with built-in Zebra Technologies FX7500 readers are deployed—one each at the entrance and exit of the storage area.

When goods are brought into the system, the receiving staff scan each product over the desktop reader kiosk, causing a light built into the kiosk to turn blue with each read. They then put the parts away. When an Eskridge employee retrieves parts, he or she collects what is needed and holds each product above a second reader to indicate it is being removed from the inventory stock. The ShelfAware cloud-based software captures the data, then updates the inventory count for the company. On a weekly basis, based on the RFID data, the company then determines what parts need to be replenished and delivers those parts.

KR Johnson's Michael McQueen
According to Griffin, it took approximately five minutes to train the staff to use the system. "I told them, 'This is the simplest job you will ever do,'" he states. Since they began using it, Griffin adds, it has saved time that previously was spent counting or ordering parts. The company liked the system so much that it increased the purchasing quantity from O-ring to 250 SKUs representing all of its o-rings (gaskets), seals and retaining rings that it uses.

Supplier KR Johnson has also adopted the system to enable customers to track its fittings and hoses at their sites. In addition, Eskridge is now tracking the KR Johnson-supplied products with the same technology. "I see this as a way to provide as rock-solid an understanding of inventory as you can get," says Michael McQueen, KR Johnson's VP. The company now tags all products it sells to Eskridge, which it delivers weekly based on the automated data from ShelfAware.

Now, Griffin says, when Eskridge needs to use or sell a large number of components to customers, it can simply access the cloud-based system and view how many items are on hand at O-ring's main distribution center, as well as how many are on site at Eskridge, and thereby ensure that it can accommodate a large order or spike in product assembly. He says he also employs the system for analytics. "They give me the ability to see how many parts I've used in the last year or the last month," he explains, which helps him to better understand customer demands and assembly trends.

While O-ring has been offering the system as a service for its own products and partner products, ShelfAware is expected to spin off into its own service-providing company.

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