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Patti Engineering Solves RFID Challenges at Manufacturing and Distribution Site

During an RFID Journal webinar, the company described the deployment of its Siemens RFID system at a Fortune 500 company, and how it overcame challenges of water and metal presence, stray reads and the need for 100 percent read coverage.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 04, 2018

Patti Engineering has provided a comprehensive RFID solution for a Fortune 500 company's distribution and manufacturing site that enables the firm to automatically identify where its goods are in the shipping process at any given time, based on tray and pallet status. John Shipley, Patti Engineering's senior electrical engineer, described the deployment—which consists of Siemens readers, antennas and programmable logic controllers (PLCs), as well as Patti Engineering's software and integration—during an RFID Journal webinar held on May 22, 2018.

Patti Engineering is a 27-year-old provider of automation and industrial controls, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., with offices in Kokomo, Ind., and Austin, Texas. The company offers solutions for the automotive, distribution and sortation industries, as well as controls for water and wastewater management and the food and beverage industry. It partners with Siemens for many of its industrial identification solutions leveraging UHF RFID technology.

Patti Engineering's John Shipley
Shipley described the challenges that the company (which has asked to remain unnamed) had faced, and the innovations chosen to work around those challenges, at the large DC and manufacturing site location. Some of the hurdles included building a system that could read tags at multiple points during the picking, packing, shipping and exceptions processes, in a varied environment in which some products contain liquid, while others do not, and in which metal could cause reflections in some cases. The system enables the company to receive data directly in its existing warehouse-management software, in order to ensure the seamless use of the RFID system.

The facility primarily serves as a distribution center, with some manufacturing taking place on site as well. Products that pass through the facility come in multiple materials and form factors, and are typically small enough to be packed into trays that are then stacked on pallets, shrink-wrapped and shipped to customers. The Patti Engineering solution begins tracking the finished goods once they are loaded onto trays for shipment.

The company has more than 250,000 high-density polyethylene trays on which the goods are placed prior to being shipped to customers; the trays are then returned to the same site. Each tray has two EPC UHF RFID tags embedded in it, on opposing sides, with a unique ID number that is stored in the RFID software. Shipley declined to name the make and model of RFID tag being used.

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