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AL-KO Improves Production Management Via RFID

The German manufacturer of industrial air conditioners now has visibility into which parts are arriving at its final assembly plant.
By Rhea Wessel
Upon arrival in southern Germany, the goods are again moved past an RFID reader gate, and the items' arrival is recorded in the SAP system. Tags are removed from the pouches and returned to the Lutherstadt Wittenberg facility the next time that a truck drives that route for the company. AL-KO currently has roughly 1,400 tags in circulation.

AL-KO's Alexander Lins
Prior to the system's implementation, shipments between plants were tracked by hand on a spreadsheet. The staff manually recorded up to 200 notations daily that had to be input into the computer by an employee working overnight, when the goods are transported.

AL-KO spent €240,000 ($296,000) on the application for hardware, software, programming and consulting services. Lins reports that the system has benefitted his company, by providing it with a definitive accounting of which materials and load carriers are on the move. What's more, the technology has reduced the amount of administrative work in the process.

In addition, all materials not loaded onto trucks can now be accounted for as well. Previously, a list of unshipped materials had to be compiled manually. Now, the system calculates what has been left behind, by comparing data regarding which parts were ordered and which were actually loaded. This information, Lins says, enables AL-KO to ensure that its inventory is kept up to date in real time. The company currently has no plans to expand the system.

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