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Sada Cavi Saves Time, Reduces Wastage

The Italian wholesaler of electric cables is using RFID in conjunction with height sensors to quickly locate the spools of cable needed to fill specific orders.
By Rhea Wessel
Jun 09, 2008To help quickly locate spools of electric cable stored at its warehouse, Italian cable wholesaler Sada Cavi has deployed a system combining radio frequency identification with ultrasonic height sensors.

Sada Cavi markets a variety of cable products, with reported annual sales of €40 million ($63 million). The company stores up to 40,000 wooden spools of electric cable in its storage yard near the city of Modena. Each spool is unique, since the length of leftover cable differs from one spool to the next. One key success factor for Sada Cavi has been in eliminating wasted cable on spools by using the correct spool to fill a specific order.

At Sada Cavi's warehouse, cable is stored in rows stacked four spools high and 20 deep.

"The company makes money by not wasting too much cable," says Korbian Sapper, a member of the sales and marketing department at Indyon, the German company that supplied the RFID system to Sada Cavi. "This is the trick—minimizing residual cable."

Before switching to RFID, Sada Cavi spent a good deal of time locating the ideal cable spool for production, in rows stacked four spools high and 20 deep in a yard measuring about 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet). Following production—during which Sada Cavi tailors the length of cable for each particular customer—every cable order must be identified for shipping as well.

At the end of 2005, Sada Cavi contacted WeFlex—an Indyon partner in Maranello, Italy, that offers logistics services and solutions—regarding a solution to the problem. Sada Cavi has some automated indoor high-rack storage units, and considered building more but ruled that out due to the cost involved.

Sada Cavi also contemplated utilizing the bar-coded labels it initially applies to products or product pallets for identification at every step of the process. Small cable drums are transported on pallets, while large cable drums are moved without them. The company eliminated bar-coding as an option, however, because of the outdoor environmental conditions: When a plastic-covered bar-code label is wet, or if the sun shines brightly on it, reflected light can interfere with reading. The firm also shied away from bar codes due to the time it would take to scan them. Sapper estimates 20 to 30 seconds per scan would be required with forklift-mounted bar-code readers, and each of Sada Cavi's forklifts must identify spools approximately 800 times per day.

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