RFID Helps Toy Factory Adapt to Customer Demand

By Edson Perin

Calesita implemented RFID in its products to improve stock control and traceability in its supply chain to Havan's stores.

Ed. Note: A version of this article originally appeared at  IoP Journal.

A radio frequency identification project at Brazilian toy factory  Calesita, in Pomerode, originated due to a demand from one of its primary customers:  Havan, one of Brazil's largest retail store chains. After Calesita's IT team conducted studies, an initiative was taken to implement the technology internally, before the deadline for delivering goods to Havan with smart tags attached had even been reached.

"The IT team analyzed the equipment, printers and labels to create an RFID project by which they could enjoy the benefits and serve their customer at the same time," says Jeferson Hoppe, an RFID executive at Calesita. In the process of using the software tools of RFID company  iTAG Etiquetas Inteligentes, Calesita encountered some barriers regarding the consistency and quality of RFID reads. iTAG had to change the RFID recording system, applying  GS1's SGTIN-96 standard to meet the needs of both the internal and Havan projects.

Jeferson Hoppe

iTAG implemented its iPRINT software at Calesita to generate RFID tags compliant with the GS1 standard. Information about the process is sent to the company's enterprise resource planning system, which Calesita developed itself. For the movement of goods, iTAG added its iMonitor tool to Calesita's portals at which the completion of production orders is performed, and at which orders are checked before being moved to the loading area.

For inventory counts and other logistical functionalities, Hoppe says, "iTAG has implemented its iTAG Alert 2.0 software, which makes inventory functionalities and RFID movement reports available to Calesita." The first-in, first-out (FIFO) method includes an application by which all functions are concentrated at a single point so managers can easily perform analysis.

At present, Calesita uses the GTIN-13 standard for all brands of its business group, and the same process identifies each product box. "The objective of this project," Hoppe says, "is to identify the entire range of Calesita Group's products, from production area exit to final customer, as in the case of large department stores like Havan."

To achieve that goal, staggered processes were executed and priorities were divided as follows: first, meet customer demand; second, achieve gains with the opportunity for evolution; and third, evolve the project to the point of process automation. "For these three topics," Hoppe explains, "we had continuous evolutions in our partnership with iTAG, which was responsible for introducing us to the GS1 standardization, the explanation of market cases and the gains we could achieve with the tool's use."

The printing of labels at Calesita follows its own standardization with an RFID tag for each product applied to boxes containing goods during the verification and completion of production orders. At this point, an RFID reader records the passage of products. After the first count is taken, the goods are moved to the stock area, where they are stored until being picked to fulfill sales orders. Then the second count begins, this time using RFID, to capture data regarding the operator, the order and the products to be linked to the invoice, in order to serve Calesita's customers.

"In parallel to this process, we started labeling products with the standardization of our customer Havan," Hoppe recalls. "As a result, we used the customer's label on orders, and this turned into a lengthy process that took time to prepare. So we saw that it would be an important point of improvement, and with that we looked for a company that already had experience with RFID projects. We found iTAG could optimize the processes."

After hiring iTAG, the company carried out improvements in its printing, checking and inventory processes. "The printing of labels was standardized with the iPRINT software," Hoppe says, "where we applied our EAN13 registration and used the EPC Gen 2 standard approved by GS1, so that we could meet Havan's requests and streamline order fulfillment."

At the logistics-handling portals, existing readers were exchanged for  Chainway UR4 readers and the iTAG Monitor software, while integration was carried out to streamline the RFID readers' use. "We also changed the reader in the shipping area," Hoppe states, "so that we could have a better capture of all item movements." Following updates, RFID-based inventory-management processes were implemented using iTAG's tools to perform periodic counts, which also allows for cyclical counts.