As manufacturers strive for a lean, agile manufacturing plant, RFID WIP solutions give them real-time visibility and tracking they need to keep up with the speed of competition and comply with their customer’s needs. Complex and large-scale manufacturing entails constant monitoring of the process and tracking of WIP and inventory. This can be carried out successfully using RFID tags which bring a lot of transparency and traceability to the processes. These tags can be deployed to help in the management of all assets on the assembly line from manufacturing machinery, equipment, and tools to WIP and final goods produced. They help in data collection, maintaining accurate reports and records, finding inconsistencies in process or quality, tracking rework and rejected material, and even proper and accurate dispatches. These benefits lead to overall efficiencies and time savings in the production process.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO CHOOSE A SYSTEM THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOUR COMPANY
When you’re making items composed of many parts, such as airplanes, automobiles,
high-tech and consumer electronic devices, machinery, or medical equipment, it’s essential—but difficult—to keep track of work in progress (WIP). As many components and subsystems are assembled into individual products, discrete manufacturers need to ensure that the right parts make their way from warehouses to bins to assembly lines when they’re needed.
It’s also critical that the correct parts are diverted at the right time to the proper locations for painting, subassembly, or other work before they can be brought together and incorporated into the final product. Many discrete manufacturers try to track WIP manually, using paper-based logs or entering data into computers or handheld noting devices—all methods that are prone to error, thanks to human fallibility. Even manufacturers that have automated the process using bar-code scanners find that workers often forget to scan some parts or circumvent the system for other reasons. Typically, managers aren’t alerted to errors soon enough, so they cause problems down the line. RFID WIP also can improve quality control by tracking each step to make sure it was carried out correctly.
Tracking work in process with radio frequency identification gives you real-time visibility into your processes and operations, which, in turn, saves time, improves quality, and data acquisition, and reduces costs.
WIP solution help companies achieve this. By positioning RFID components at different points on the production line, Items passing that point can be identified without human intervention.
One of the case-study in automotive: Tracking in Paint Shop with MES Integration.
Client Context and Business Challenges
- Due to the harsh (heat & chemical) environment in which the car body passes through in the paint shop the visibility and tracks are lost. There is a need for a robust and reliable identification & tracking system.
- The system should identify the car body/carrier at every pre-defined strategic location with a time-stamp of presence.
- Temperatures in ovens can go up to 210 C.
- Chemical coating & paint layers.
- Real-time tracking of car bodies in the manufacturing cycle and data integration with the existing Mechanical Execution System (MES).
- Low maintainability since access to the identification location is not easy & is generally harsh.
Approach / Differentiation
- We deployed a hybrid system for tracking using RFID & its IoT Gateways. HF tags from EMS were chosen which can withstand temperatures up to 210 C and the paint layers & chemical coatings.
- All the field readers are connected to our middleware which in turn is integrated into MES.
- Time synchronization attempts to send transactions, reader status, etc. are all performed in the middleware.
- Body presence signals at transfer points are taken into our controller & read commands are triggered basis that.
- With almost no latency, the movement of cars is recorded in MES.
- Complete visibility of cars in the paint shop is being achieved. Basis the tracking info, multiple work instructions are passed onto the concerned & robots.
- Solutions can be designed to add these capabilities to existing manufacturing processes using compact sensing devices to show which steps each work item has passed through with LIVE dashboards.
BENEFITS OF RFID WIP TRACKING SYSTEM
- Maintains item-level process information in the RFID tag itself.
- Eliminates the need for separate paperwork on process status and content.
- Field personnel could use RFID tag data to determine product features, model & date-time, etc.
- Real-time data and tracking will help with production planning.
- Improves staff productivity and overall utilization of assets/pallets.
- Identification of inefficiencies and reasons for loss/failure along the assembly line through analysis of data records collected using RFID tags.
- Life cycle management and accurate stage-wise processing through data collection and tracking of in-process and finished goods.
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