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RFID in Manufacturing

By A. Inam 2010-03-24 01:31:44 AM

RFID Implementation in Manufacturing Concern

Manufacturing Industries are one of the key corner stone of economies playing their vital role in the world of production ranging from consumer markets to the producer markets.

Depending upon the product type manufacturing concern manufactures, necessary Raw material is purchased and that material is kept / stored in the warehouse. Securing the stocks (raw material ) which is most of the times associated to a massive monetary cost and maintenance cost is quite a challenging challenge that every of the manufacturer faces .

Raw Material Delivery is one of the ongoing operations in day to day factory operations. Raw material is procured on the basis of sales forecast that could be monthly, quarterly or as desired.

Raw material based on their certain categories are stored in the large warehouses and here arise a need indeed a dire need to manage the raw material that contains it Placement , Issuance , Return (Inventory Management Life Cycle) . All along these things raw material carries a significant cost and it is used on daily basis aligned with the daily Production targets which needs to be monitored, tracked and traced.

Production plants has certain Production Capacity and a specific schedule which is divided into different shifts and Raw Material usage is dependent as per the Production and Sales Order demands which is part of the Production Planning

Challenges / Limitations in mega warehouses

Warehouses like these contain inventory worth millions of Rs. Where Warehouse In charge issue Material against the approved Material requisitions and update the stock status accordingly but most of the times, these are more of manual procedures (maintaining records in excel based customized applications or some old legacy systems).

Solution that makes the difference (It is nothing but RFID)

This is the area where bringing in state of the art RFID technology can make a big difference, tracing, tracking and monitoring the material flow from the warehouse to the Production Plants

The greatest promise of RFID lies in its application versatility. Smart tags can be affixed to individual products or to pallets containing multiple units, and they can be read through most materials. RFID readers can scan multiple items at one time. Data generated by RFID technology can improve supply chain efficiencies across Production Plants in various industries.

Warehouses Production Plants could be geographically distributed across the cities or may be across the globe and every Plant Manager would be keener to check the updated stock statuses, though a huge array of ERP systems helping users to maintain their Inventory but an Innovation like RFID brings in spectacular difference by providing immense tracking and traceability features. Technological flexibility of RFID technology enables its integration with GPS / GPRS devices that can help the Plant key stakeholders to locate their stocks at various factory sites.

• Low Operational Cost
• Raw Material Tracking and Traceability
• Efficient Supply Chains
• Monitoring different sites stocks using LAN / WAN
• Better Strategic Decision Making
• Theft Control
• Maintenance

Assembly Lines and Mega Production Plants

Assembly Lines operation has following corner stones based on what ,they whole production life cycle is accomplished

• Production Planning
• Labor Management
• Post Production Phases
• Product Quality Management
• Plant Management
• Inventory Management

Production Planning

Production Planning is based upon the Sales Order , marketing department send to the plants and also It depends upon the Plant Capacity .

An Integrated System right from the generation of the sales order into the system can help Planning Engineers to plan the production

Labor Management

In order to accomplish the planning tasks , Labor has its own significance that can run the plants ,to keep up the production in accordance with the sales orders . Since Production is carried out on a high massive scale that has its own high price demands better , cost effective , with a minimum and optimized use of raw material measures to achieve economies of scale .

A System that can track the laborers 24 X 7 during the production hours can help Plant Managers to track and monitor every laborer working on different plants . Their productivity could be monitored based upon their RFID Identification and also whatever raw material they are issued for the production can be tracked down that enables Plant Manager getting a consolidated report by end of the day that these many laborers were issued this much raw material or on the other hand If Plant Operator need some equipment or spare part to continue the smooth running of the plant could be tracked down since both Parts and Plant operator are being tracked using RFID System which is integrated with a complete suite of an ERP system.

Post Production Phase

Depending upon the production process , at times , end product of the assembly lines are placed into some sort of aging so that product may get ready for the next step e.g. In case It is a BOPP(Bi axially Oriented Poly Propleyene) , these mega reels are kept in aging racks those need a proper identification since they are of different kinds as per their specifications .

When these Products reach on the maximum time limit of their placement in Aging Racks , they are further to be used for their next step of Production and It needs a proper tracking and monitoring for the further execution of the planned jobs

Product Quality Management

Assembly Line Production ought to pass quality tests in the quality control laboratory before they are further moved into the next phase of the production. Lab’s daily operations are to verify the samples and all the sample records with their readings are stored in the lab using a conventional manual procedure.

Using the low cost Passive RFID tags , Quality Management Personnel can always track their samples whenever required and off course backed up with an integrated ERP system having a capability of interfacing RFID Devices can make their operations smoother and efficient .

Plant Management

Assembly lines contain many sophisticated production plants and sub plants. Day to day smooth operations require preventive and predictive maintenance of the Production Plants and also to all of their spare parts and accessories. The whole activity (plant maintenance) is scheduled at regular intervals and the concerned department provides servicing for all the accessories and spare parts.

In order to track down all the spare parts or other accessories, there is a dire need for their traceability as each one of them has a certain value. Maintenance activity paired up with the RFID tracking from the plant to the workshop or vice versa can enable Instrumentation engineer track the repaired spare parts and at the same time, various statistics based on the system manipulation could be published for the higher management to for the Plant Management e.g. what are the key parts which need to be replaced based upon their current /latest maintenance order or condition that can be tracked using RFID readers

Inventory Management

When the Production is completed as per the sales order, that inventory is handed over to the stocks for their inventory management. Items are tagged as per the order no and with the client information so that as per the dispatch plan it could be shipped over to the client.

Here arises a very definitive need to count on the valuable (since there is a huge cost to it right from the beginning till the end of Production Life Cycle) and strategic inventory that Inventory In charge receives and also that is dispatched to the customer. Product could be packed up in packages and also be placed on a wood pallet to transport to the destination. Having an efficient, reliable and sophisticated mechanism to transfer IN and Transfer Out of the inventory can always Improve Logistics. Be it a daily stock status which comes in , which is dispatched out or put on hold , is tracked using state of the art technologies of RFID can bring optimum Return on Investment . Idea is to bunch all the areas in a single integrated ERP suite

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RFID in Manufacturing
By A. Inam

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