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6 ways RFID can help manufacturers

Despite increased levels of automation, keeping track of multiple items in a manufacturing process seems to be increasingly difficult.

The ERP system tells us what should be there – but the reality can be very different, requiring production staff to spend valuable time trying to locate missing items or containers, which can disrupt the manufacturing process and affect customer service.

RFID offers a solution. The use of RFID tags in conjunction with the appropriate scanners makes it possible to track items automatically through production. However that is not the only benefit that this technology can offer.

Here are 6 ways RFID can help manufacturers:

1. Better control over production

From raw materials, sub-assemblies and machine tools to stillages and bulk containers, there are a multitude of associated items in manufacturing. RFID makes it is possible to ascertain their physical whereabouts at any time and provides much greater visibility. Chemicals manufacturer Syngenta has used RFID in conjunction with an ERP system to track bags of ingredients through five plants at its Grangemouth site and boost production.

2. Improved quality

RFID not only helps to ensure that products are in the right place at the right time, but also used in the right sequence and quantities. Because it assists in providing improved control of materials, it also improves product quality. At Ulster Carpets, for example, RFID tags are attached to bobbins which then link to the database and match yarns to be woven, thus reducing costly manufacturing errors.

3. Reduced waste and energy usage

Switching off machinery during standby periods can save significant amounts of energy. At Vaillant’s boiler manufacturing plant, RFID readers can detect the arrival of a chassis at a manufacturing station and power up the tools as they are required. MX Group, a leading manufacturer of shower trays, uses an RFID system to specify the exact quantity of resin used with each mould and optimise the use of raw materials.

4. Product traceability and authenticity

RFID is an ideal way to prove the authenticity of products. In motor racing, for example, vehicle panels are created with RFID tags built in so each one can be registered and traced back to the individual manufacturer. Race officials at the track use hand-held scanners to read the tags and check that only authorised panels are used. The system has helped to ensure safety and fair play and has prevented the formation of a counterfeit trade, which has become a problem for many other industries.

5. Managing repairs and returns

RFID is ideally suited to warrantee monitoring, where products or components are returned for repair or replacement. It can be used to identify the age and therefore validity of any claim, as well as the number of times it has previously been the subject of a claim. It also highlights where there may be a weakness, for example if the same fault is occurring repeatedly.

6. Data insights improve efficiency

Each time items are detected through the process, the database is automatically updated. The detailed data relating to physical entities that RFID systems provide offers more accurate insights that can be used to enhance asset usage and production efficiency, helping manufacturers to cut costs and improve their performance.

Find out more in our RFID in manufacturing section or watch our explainer video.

To discuss how RFID could benefit your organisation, fill in the contact form or email Richard Harrison on r.harrison@corerfid.com.