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Marigold Industrial Gets a Better Grip on Glove Production, Inventory

The Portuguese maker of protective work gloves says it has streamlined operations thanks to an RFID system based on passive EPC Gen 2 tags and readers.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jun 26, 2009Marigold Industrial manufactures protective gloves for workers who handle such things as sharp knives, harsh chemicals or frozen packages. To get better visibility of the materials used to construct those gloves, and to improve its ability to track the finished products, the company has deployed an RFID system based on passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and interrogators at its manufacturing facility in Poiares, Portugal.

The new system, which replaced a paper-based tracking process early this year, is increasing the accuracy of inventory and shipment records within the facility. Once fully optimized, Marigold indicates, it should also decrease the amount of time required to complete inventory counts. CreativeSystems served as the project's systems integrator.

Warehouse employees bring RFID-tagged cases of material through a portal reader at the Marigold Industrial plant. The reader antennas are the black columns on either side of the door.

As pallets loaded with boxes of materials and components—such as various grades of rubber and cloth—arrive at the factory, Marigold's employees key in the corresponding purchase order number into a computer linked to an RFID label printer-encoder. Software known as Backoffice, developed by CreativeSystems, runs on the computer and communicates with the SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software used by Marigold. The ERP software pulls up the order details associated with that purchase order, then this information is sent to the Backoffice software, which generates an RFID label for each expected box of material or components.

Inside each label is an Avery Dennison RFID inlay made with an NXP Semiconductors UCode EPC Gen 2 chip. Backoffice assigns a unique ID number that is encoded to the chip and associated with the order information.

A worker places an RFID label on each box within the shipment. The boxes are then moved through an RFID reader portal on the dock. As this happens, Backoffice logs the incoming shipment data and reconciles it with the purchase order information. If the number of boxes does not match the number indicated on the purchase order, the software sends an alert so that workers can find and reconcile the discrepancy.

After being placed into the warehouse for storage, the tagged boxes of materials are inventoried once per month. Prior to deploying the RFID system, employees had performed weekly manual inventories of the warehouse stock, so the new technology has already reduced labor hours. However, Miguel Roxo, Marigold's RFID manager, says he and his staff have encountered problems reading some of the tags placed on these cases, and are presently working to improve the read rates.

"In the beginning, we were placing the RFID labels anywhere on the boxes, and then placing the boxes on pallets before putting them into the warehouse," Roxo explains. "When we then went to read the tags using an Alien Technology EPC Gen 2 handheld reader, we found that some of the tags could not be read because they were placed on the sides of boxes that were facing inwards on the pallet."

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