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Aerospace Company Gains Efficiency Threefold With RFID

BAE Systems' deployment of RFID technology, enabled by sensor integration from Boeing's Tapestry Solutions, has boosted efficiency and reduced labor for supplies management, tool and asset tracking, and work-in-process visibility.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 10, 2018

Global aerospace, defense and security company BAE Systems has launched an RFID-based solution with a three-pronged objective of automating inventory replenishment, managing the status and location of asset and tools, and bringing visibility to work-in-process (WIP).

The solution includes RFID tags to enable the tracking of more than 200,000 assets, 30,000 parts and about 6,500 work orders at its plants. The firm is using an Internet of Things (IoT) software platform called Enterprise Sensor Integration (ESI), provided by Tapestry Solutions, a subsidiary of Boeing Co.

The RFID-enabled system has been in use for approximately five months at BAE Systems' Electronic Warfare Integrated Manufacturing Center (EW-IMC) facility, located in Nashua, N.H., as well as at three other sites. During this time, the company reports, it has boosted efficiency and reduced labor times related to ordering supplies, tracking tools and assets, and managing WIP status. Plans are now under way to implement ESI at additional BAE Systems' manufacturing plants in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas and New York.

BAE Systems is an international manufacturer of defense, aerospace and security products. The company sought a technological solution to boost its manufacturing production efficiency, and thereby improve delivery times and reduce operational costs. Prior to the RFID-enabled system's deployment, the firm had a largely manual process for tracking and managing supply inventory, assets and tools, as well as enhancing workflow on the assembly floor.

With an automated solution, the company hoped to attain a near-real-time view into its assets and processes, and to be able to integrate that data with its existing sensor technologies and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. What's more, it wanted the solution to have sufficient flexibility to grow with the company and with improvements in technology.

There are multiple challenges in the complex environment of a BAE Systems plant, says Deirdre (Dee) Schmidt, BAE Systems' operations excellence leader. Among the challenges, she notes that tools must be located and calibrated according to compliance and regulatory requirements, and WIP must be tracked to ensure that orders are being fulfilled on time.

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