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Thai Consumer Goods Manufacturer Tidies Up Warehousing Processes

Lion, one of Thailand's largest manufacturers of cleaning products, is using EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and readers to improve its processes for storing and retrieving pallets carrying its products.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Jul 21, 2011Lion, one of the largest Thai manufacturers of cleaning products and other fast-moving consumer goods, employs radio frequency identification at one of its warehouses near its factory in southern Thailand, in order to improve its processes for storing and retrieving pallets carrying its products. The system, according to the company, has enabled the warehouse to reduce the amount of time required to complete a transfer order—defined as any movement of goods within the warehouse, such as relocating products into storage, or finding and removing them from storage to comply with an order—from 60 minutes down to roughly 10 minutes. What's more, the technology has allowed Lion to increase the accuracy of its inventory records from about 80 percent (before RFID was implemented) to nearly 100 percent.

Lion began testing RFID in 2009, as part of a larger program called the Systematic Integration Strategy (SIS) project—a company-wide effort designed to improve the firm's operational efficiency, as well as its coordination with supply chain partners.

An RFID tag is affixed to each pallet.

The first phase of the SIS project (including the deployment of RFID within the warehouse) was completed in 2010, but Lion plans to expand its use of the solution to two additional warehouses, and has already begun feasibility testing at one of those other warehouses. The company hopes to deploy the RFID system at that site by the end of this year, says Sriyos Sudsertsin, a project manager at Lion.

Smartsoft Technology, an RFID systems integrator based in Thailand, worked with Lion to develop and implement the RFID solution. The firm selected UPM RFID's DogBone EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlay for the customized tags used in the system, with Sirit's Infinity 510 readers mounted on forklift trucks. The system employs RFID tags in two form factors—one used to identify pallets, and another to indicate the locations of shelves on which pallets are stored.

For the project, Smartsoft deployed its middleware, which controls the RFID hardware and maintains a Structured Query Language (SQL) database server that communicates with Lion's SAP warehouse-management software. When a shipment arrives, the middleware collects order information from the SAP software. Workers then utilize a stationary RFID reader—the Sirit Infinity 510—to collect the ID number from a tag that will be attached to the pallet. The middleware then associates this number with the order information, along with a number identifying the pallet, after which a worker slips the pallet tag—a hard plastic tag with a tail, bent at 90 degrees to the tag's face—between two boxes on the pallet.

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