Multinova Reduces Time Required to Separate Orders By 60 Percent

An RFID solution, replacing an existing bar-code-based system, has ensured greater accuracy and confidence for management regarding the tracking of bubble plastic rolls at the company's factory.
Published: December 10, 2018

Multinova‘s bubble plastics plant recently replaced the use of bar codes to track rolls of its products with a radio frequency identification solution provided by Akron, located in Caxias do Sul, Brazil. Multinova, based in Farroupilha, has improved accuracy and boosted its confidence in the separation of orders and verification, thanks to the RFID portal, which has eliminated its previous manual process. The company’s subsidiaries in Bahia and Santa Catarina have also adopted the technology.

Prior to the RFID deployment, Multinova’s picking and inventory counting processes were performed using bar-code readers. Now, with RFID inventory counts, it is no longer necessary for workers to move stacks of stocked products to access bar-code labels. The order-picking process no longer requires that employees locate each product’s label individually, the firm reports. They can simply pass the bubble plastic rolls through the portal, enabling them to count several units at a time, and to carry out the verification of separate materials for shipment to customers.

Bubble rolls are counted and identified via the RFID portal before being loaded into a truck.

Following the RFID implementation, operations commenced within a week. The first results to be measured showed greater security and speed in the firm’s inventory-counting and order-separation processes. The first measurements indicate an optimization of time and labor, with the company achieving a 60 percent reduction in the amount of time required for such tasks. The company is already planning its next steps: automating inventory counts and allowing customers to also gain benefits from the RFID technology.

Currently, after production is completed, each product is transferred to a stock area, passing through the RFID portal before being stored. Then, at the time of loading and delivery, each item passes through the portal again for the purpose of order separation and invoice billing.

According to Paula Germana, Multinova’s controller, the implementation experience was a positive one. Akron’s role, she explains, was “to provide the information needed to get a better understanding of the RFID process, and to enable the acquisition and installation of the necessary equipment and systems, as well as training and follow-up.”

According to Germana, the manual bar-code-based processes posed a very big challenge for the company before it turned to RFID. “In a sliced reel,” she says, “there is a label for each slice, and the work of separating the products for loading becomes very laborious. With RFID, we had more agility in the separation, because the portal reading occurs automatically.”

RFID readers (the manufacturers of which have not been disclosed) are installed in the incoming materials area, as well as at the receiving and shipping docks. “On both docks, we have portals with readers,” Germana states. A reading is performed during the passage of materials through the portal. “We use a notebook to monitor and check the quantities passed through the portal.”

The RFID portal, with reader antennas

The main challenge in getting accurate readings was to isolate the portals, Germana reports; since they were located close to the stock area, they occasionally counted products that were outside the desired read zone. “We use around 20,000 RFID tags per month in the Santa Catarina unit,” she notes, while approximately 100,000 tags are utilized monthly at the Rio Grande do Sul headquarters, where labels are reused for inter-branch transfers.

Regarding the adoption of RFID, Germana says, the team considered changing its processes to be an important challenge it had to meet. “We had a few reworks on the labeling of some items,” she recalls, “and the big contribution came from our IT team, who brought the system live with a perfect parameterization. As soon as the system was deployed, we started using it.”