ASSET TRACKING IN A PRODUCTION LINE ENVIRONMENT
Ford Motor Company founder, Henry Ford, was alleged to time his factory’s production to increase output and productivity. Integrated RFID-based tracking systems have now taken over, providing factories with greater monitoring of and control over their processes, and lean manufacturing processes.
Tracking assets as they move from site to site isn’t the only possibility for using RFID tags. Instead, RFID tags attached to product parts gives manufacturers a full overview of the assembly line process. Whether it’s tracking all the individual parts coming together, to monitoring the time it takes for the process to be completed, manufacturers gain the full picture.
How it works
As an automated tracking system, RFID asset tracking in a production line environment provides a decentralized control throughout the process. In this instance, manufacturers essentially require that all parts that are needed for the manufacturing process are given their own unique digital fingerprints, in the form of RFID tags.
RFID tagging not only ensures asset tracking and management takes place as supplies move to the manufacturing floor. It also means that the equipment used in the manufacturing process is also monitored.
Additionally, RFID reading devices are installed at regular intervals along the production line, to ensure that all parts are in the correct place at the right time. The more RFID readers there are along the production line, the more accurate the information coming into managers will be – and the sooner missing parts or production process glitches are caught.
By using simple, quick RFID reader scanning, assembly line personnel can determine not only which processes have been completed. They can also determine the inspections and tests needed and update the centralized data platform as needed.
Aside from providing up-to-date manufacturing information, there are several further benefits to using RFID tracking in factories. These include:
- Automated security measures : With expensive parts a common feature of many manufacturing processes, manufacturers need a means to protect their bottom line. With this in mind, RFID tracking solutions mean that every item is tagged, and manufacturers can prevent any unauthorized removal of products and their parts. Keeping constant tabs on parts as they move around the warehouse and through the production process also ensures that a manufacturer’s bottom line is not affected. This simply entails that if a part is missing from the process, an alert is sent through to the data cloud that can be picked up by production line employees. At the same time, access control solutions can be installed at entry points throughout the production facility, to ensure that only authorized employees can access areas.
- Automatic Inventory Updates : Just as in any smart inventory tracking system, as soon as product parts are taken from the inventory, the system is automatically updated once the RFID tag has been scanned. This alters the stock levels and shows where each item has gone. Once the production process has been completed, the system can also be updated to ensure that finished product levels show clearly how many have been completed.
- Automatic Notifications : When a step in the process has been completed, alerts can be sent out to the centralized data cloud that can be picked up by managers and those employees involved in the process. The central product database can also be updated when each process has been completed, allowing production line employees full visibility on productivity and project completion.
- Easier Shipping List Creation : The amount of time spent checking each finished item as it rolls off the production process is significantly cut through RFID tracking. This is due to the production process being tracked right from the beginning, giving manufacturing employees all the information at their fingertips as soon as the process is finished. With this system on board, employees no longer have to manually follow the process as it proceeds. Instead, they can simply scan the finished item using an RFID reader, and the relevant tags will send through the signals showing up anything that is missing or out of place.
- No need for extra paperwork : This is a bonus for particularly complex production lines, where there are many different parts being assembled. For instance, if a manufacturer is producing a car, the likelihood is there are many different parts to the car that need to come together to create a workable car. With this comes plenty of paperwork regarding regulation compliance, safety standards, production standards and the like. With all this information stored on a centralized data cloud, instead of in hard files, the manufacturing process becomes far easier to manage, and no paperwork is lost.
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