Walking through an application example is the best way to understand the benefits of RFID.
Picking and Sortation System Within a Warehouse
Sanacorp is a German pharmaceutical wholesaler with 15 regional distribution centers serving 6,000 retail drugstores. The company stocks an average of 80,000 products. The company has a service standard "to pick and prepare for delivery every customer order within one hour from receiving a phone call/fax from an individual drugstore." Since pharmaceutical product prices are set by government regulation, this company has chosen service as a competitor differentiator.
Each warehouse contains a conveyor system from start of pickline to dispatch upon which 6,000 totes are traveling in the process of putting together orders. A central database coordinates all processes. Each plastic tote represents a unique order.
The company tried bar coding, but experienced a one percent error rate, which meant that totes were ID'd incorrectly, leading to delays and even incorrect orders delivered.
An RFID tag is welded to the bottom of each tote. It is a read-only tag with 64 bits of data that represent a unique ID numbers. Antennas are located under conveyor at pick locations. When an order is initiated, the unique ID of the tote is associated with that specific order in
the database. The ID code indicates "stop" or "go." Tracks orders. Detects bottlenecks.
• Routine maintenance decreased dramatically.
• Errors dropped to .01 percent.
• Market share increased during last three years.
Mistakes in customer deliveries are expensive in terms of time and effort to fix them and in terms of damage to the customer relationship.
RFID in Perspective
To get the most from RFID, there is a need for an advanced enterprise-wide information management infrastructure. The application may be designed around a centralized database or use a decentralized approach, maintaining and updating the data directly on the tag, or a combination. In any event, the IMS needs to be prepared to handle real-time data quickly and to pass it to other systems in the chain that can also use the information. Without this backbone in place, this wealth of information can go unused.
APPLICATION PROFILE—UERIGE BREWERY Beer Barrel Tracking at Uerige Brewery
In addition to the big international breweries, in Germany there are many smaller but successful breweries that remain competitive through ingenuity. Uerige Brewery is one of these that has put auto ID to work for asset management and supply chain automation.
Tracking Along the Supply Chain
Barrels are expensive assets of a brewery's business. In this application, the barrels each contain an embedded read/write tag that uniquely identifies them and whose memory is partitioned and can be programmed by individual page with data along the cycle of travel from factory to customer and back to factory. Data programmed in at the factory includes lot number, date/time of fill, and use/sell-by dates. Barrels are handled by several entities: factory, distributors, and pubs.
Offline Information Management
At various points of dispatch and receipt, date/time are programmed into the tag. Tags can be read by stationary or hand-held readers. Ultimately, each barrel has an audit trail stored in its tag.
• Manages barrel loss.
• Isolates damage to barrels.
• Compiles complete, automatic records of customer service and to generate invoices.
Let's go back and look at some more aspects of the technology
To Be Continued
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