Using RFID, JSW Steel Cuts Truck Dwell Times at Factories

By Claire Swedberg

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  • The RFID and AI solution from Kemar Automation enables JSW Steel to track the status of the trucks that enter and leave its facility at each step in the loading, unloading and weighing process.
  • The company can use the system to better plan its dispatching and other operations.

On a daily basis, hundreds of large trucks rumble through each of two JSW Steel manufacturing facilities, for loading and unloading. For company management and dispatch, processing these trucks can be time-consuming, and often leads to unnecessary dwell time and queues at gates, loading areas and scales.

At JSW Steel, officials opted to adopt a technology solution from Kemar Automation to create a digital record of the trucks’ movements to reduce delays, errors and shrinkage as well as to improve its environmental impact by lowering CO2 emissions.

JSW is one of India’s major steel manufacturing plants. Over the past 30 years, it has grown from a single manufacturing site to a multi-national company that processes 28.5 million tons of steel per year.

In recent years, the company began investigating how technology could eliminate paperwork, and the manual efforts of tracking vehicles entering and exiting its plants, with or without a load of steel material. The goal was to reduce the amount of time trucks spent onsite, the congestion that can result from excess waits and the elimination of paperwork errors for products leaving the site might not properly accounted for.

By managing the dispatch and weight data for each vehicle manually, there was a lack of systematic control over vehicles and drivers—a security risk the company wanted to avoid.

Digital Inbound and Outbound Records

JSW Steel launched a project known as Sampark (which translates in English to “in contact with all”) to provide paperless, technology-powered logistics. Officials not only desired to increase its turnaround time for delivery trucks, but gain data that could be used for strategic dispatch planning.

To accomplish this, JSW Steel chose Mumbai-based Kemar Automation and its Urgetruck automation that leverages a Siemens AX4 software platform designed for the industrial sector. Urgetruck.

“The company wanted to improve its operational efficiency and safety and well as boost sustainability in the logistics process,” said Rajeshwar Bhatt, Kemar Automation’s CEO.

The RFID system leverages AI technology in addition to a vehicle positioning system to capture when vehicles are where, create a digital record of their movement onsite, and provide analytics that advise future planning. The result, said Bhatt, is a modernized gate and parking management system as well as weigh bridge operations in which vehicles are automatically identified at key points in the loading and unloading processes.

Launching the Pilot at Two Sites

The company first piloted the RFID-based solution at two key steel plants. The plants in Vijaynagar and Dolvi are fully integrated manufacturing facilities managing all stages of the steel manufacturing process, from raw material to finished goods.

Vijaynagar in Karnataka State began piloting in June of 2023, while Dolvi, near Mumbai began a month later. At both sites, traffic in and out of the facilities is heavy. The system handles an outbound volume of 400 to 500 vehicles daily at each location.

Passive RFID tags were applied to vehicles and read at key points throughout a vehicle’s journey as it passed through the site. The pilot found that the tags could be read properly and provide the necessary data, and the company proceeded to roll out the system in full deployments. The system then went live in 2023 on Feb. 1 at Vijaynagar and March 20 at Dolvi.

Hundreds of RFID readers

Kemar installed over 250 Zebra Technologies UHF RFID readers at each plant, covering parking gates, weighbridges as well as at loading and unloading zones. Each truck that enters and leaves the site has a UHF RFID tag attached to it that links to data about the truck and related trucking company in the Urgetruck software.

As the truck enters and proceeds to each station, its tag is read with Kemar’s Urgetruck system software identifies the truck and links it to each stage in the process—loading, weighing and exit.

The software stores all vehicle and driver data, and controls all on-site hardware which integrates seamlessly with JSW’s own management systems, such as SAP, for real-time, two-way data exchange.

Real-time Data and Analytics

The Urgetruck software provides real-time tracking data on dashboards, while also offering analytics, and mobile applications for handheld operations. Its Control Tower monitoring helps manage exceptions, such as a change in a truck’s movement through the site, or unexpected weight results.

Additionally, the system enables JSW to improve its operational planning by providing AI-based visibility into patterns and flow of traffic both in real time and historically.

The company can then, for instance, better anticipate servicing specific numbers of vehicles at certain days and times, by knowing the typical time and manpower needed according to the expected traffic.

Measurable Efficiency Improvements

Since the technology went live at both sites, JSW Steel has seen reduced times on site for each vehicle. With enhanced traffic control, the company has been able to minimize congestion overall in addition to boosting the speed of processing individual trucks.

The company has also saved money in labor costs, since there are reduced manpower requirements with the automated processes.

And because the company is gaining comprehensive digital records of each vehicle’s movement and its load, it has meant improved security on each site, said Bhatt.

The company now intends to expand the solution. The Sampark system will soon manage internal vehicle operations within the next three to four months. In the meantime, discussions are underway to extend this solution to the company’s additional steel plants.

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