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GE-Aviation Moves Tote-Tracking Pilot to Production

The company has streamlined its shipping and receiving process for parts kits used in the production of commercial aircraft engines.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Feb 15, 2008GE-Aviation, the engine-manufacturing division for civil and military jet aircraft at General Electric, recently brought an RFID-based order-tracking system into production, according to Trey Keisler, GE-Aviation's information management leader for planning and logistics.

According to Keisler, the system is streamlining the company's internal supply chain between its warehouse in Erlanger, Ky., and its assembly plant in Durham, N.C., while also increasing its accuracy. And given that GE-Aviation has, in recent quarters, received record orders to supply jet engines for new Boeing and Airbus commercial aircraft, the timing couldn't be better.

In Erlanger, workers create kits of engine parts and assemble them into plastic totes, which vary in size based on the particular kit. The parts are generally small. "They are kitted so that operators on the assembly floor can move quickly [through the assembly process] without having to hunt down small, individual pieces," Keisler explains. "The kits are basically used for pre-staging."

Previously, GE-Aviation maintained accurate records of the number and types of kits the warehouse prepared for shipping each day. What it didn't have, however, was a means for obtaining a quick view of exactly which totes made it to the Durham plant each day.

Workers would apply a bar-coded adhesive label on each tote while assembling them onto pallets for shipment. As they did this, they'd scan the bar code, which contains a unique number (which GE refers to as a license plate) stored in its warehouse management software and used to create a daily manifest of shipments. In a perfect world, Keisler says, all of the pallets in a given shipment made it onto a single truck, which was received in Durham the following day.

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