Ulster Carpets is the premier manufacturer and supplier of Axminster and Wilton carpets to some of the world’s most prestigious hotels, casinos and cruise liners. Its clients include London’s Savoy Hotel and luxury cruise liner RMS Queen Mary 2.
The company’s 700 strong workforce continues to manufacture carpets in Portadown, Northern Ireland, where it was founded in 1938 by the Wilson family, who continue to run it today. With offices in London, Paris, Dubai and across the USA, it is one Northern Ireland’s leading exporters with over 75% of the company’s carpet being exported outside of the United Kingdom.
Ulster Carpets wanted to improve efficiency in its production processes. The company had identified that its tracking of bobbins could be streamlined and so reduce time-consuming and costly manufacturing errors. CoreRFID was commissioned to design a system that could give the company better control of this aspect of its production process.
Bobbins – losing time and data
At the company’s state-of-the-art Dyehouse and Energy Centre, yarn is dyed to meet the specific colour requirements of every individual carpet. The yarn is then wound on to individual bobbins and placed on the loom to be woven. In the past, each bobbin held the same length of yarn but, as some carpets used more of one particular colour, the loom had to be stopped to replace a bobbin, creating delays in the weaving process. The labels on each bobbin were also easily lost.
Streamlining production through RFID
RFID technology was introduced in 2008 and now plays an integral role in a system that is more intuitive to the exacting requirements of each carpet being woven. The RFID tag on each individual bobbin provides essential information – matching the correct yarns to be woven together – from Ulster’s database that is critical to the weaving process. This information can be accessed by staff using hand-held RFID scanners and has helped create a more streamlined system. The data is immediately uploaded to Ulster Carpet’s database.
After projects are successfully completed, CoreRFID and its clients often work together to overcome new challenges or help business growth. These relationships often progress over many years and this was the case with Ulster Carpets.
The new savings in production and the company’s growth has led to the expansion of the automated system which has helped to boost efficiency. In 2020, a new order of 10,000 new tags.
The client’s verdict
“We manufacture carpet for projects across the world so accuracy and speed are critical. Using RFID technology within our own state-of-the-art systems has enabled our business to create an efficient process that saves both time and money.”
- Paul Richardson, yarn supply manager at Ulster Carpets
“RFID is a simple and very cost-effective technology that offers a high return on investment. The products are already very resilient and can last for many years. The collaboration with Ulster Carpets shows how RFID can be integrated with existing IT systems to help manufacturers to achieve better control of production, reduce errors and improve quality and efficiency.”
Richard Harrison, technical sales director at CoreRFID
- More accurate and faster data collection
- Processes automated to reduce errors and loss of data
- RFID solution integrates with existing IT systems
- Time and money saved
- Better control of production
- Improved quality and efficiency
- RFID system supports expansion