Whirlpool Corp. is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances. Its Clyde Division, based in Clyde, Ohio, is the largest washing machine facility worldwide, covering roughly 2.5 million square feet. Maintaining a highly accurate parts count is necessary to ensure the constant availability of parts for production, says Bradford W. St. Louis, the company's senior materials engineer.
The input to the paint line is raw stamped parts, while the output is ready-to-assemble washing machine components. Accurate parts tracking also affects finished product quality, St. Louis says. "We paint our cabinets in a different area from our tops and lids, so we have to make sure we have everything matching," he explains.
Last year, the company decided to replace its paper tag-based parts-identification system with a more efficient RFID solution. "Whirlpool puts cutting-edge technologies to use in areas where they promise to be the most effective," St. Louis states.
Whirlpool's washing machine paint line is continuously fed with parts that are transported to the area aboard tagged mobile racks. "On our old system, workers would hang the parts on paint hooks," St. Louis recalls. "The parts would then go onto the line and come out painted." Workers would next take the painted parts and place them onto a rack, with a white paper tag with a part number on it identifying each part. "They would hang the tag with a metal hook that looks like a bent paper clip," he says. "Then a fork truck driver would be able to identify the parts that were on that rack." As the painted parts headed toward storage, a paint line worker would also manually enter the information into an electronic journal.
The process was inelegant. "The tags sometimes fell off, or the racks were inadvertently placed behind other racks with a different part number because we're very limited on space here," he explains. "Even though we're a 2.5 million-square-foot facility, we have limited room to spare."
One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189
Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!
Become A Premium Member
This article contains 1,544 words and 4 pages. Purchase Price: $19.99
Purchase Article Access!
Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.
Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets
The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.
Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.
These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.
Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID
All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.
Become a member today!