Barcode & RFID Solutions - Automotive Industry
In the case of the manufacturer of automotive conductors, the decision on the deployment of barcodes was made immediately at the launch of production because the first plant was build on a green field as a subsidiary of a renowned foreign cable manufacturer.
There, the barcode system is used to monitor the product flow from the moment they leave the production line to the dispatch thereof. The products are barcode labeled at the end of the production line where the label printers, which receive the product data directly from the line, are located. The key information on the label is the unique serial number which uniquely identifies each product. In addition to such information, the label contains other information - the product name, barcode and quantity – the conductor length which may vary. From then on, only the serial number is decisive for further processing of each product which is matched to all necessary database data regarding the product type, length and quality parameters.
Portable data terminals with an integrated laser barcode scanner and on-line radiofrequency data transfer are used for tracking and management of the product flow. The terminals operate in a radiofrequency network which consists of installed access points the signal of which covers all required rooms in the production area and warehouses. The communication areas, too, must be covered by the signal in order to prevent loss of connectivity, e.g. when leaving the production area for the warehouse area. All warehouse operations are then carried out using such portable terminals: receiving products from production, put-away and cycle counting.
Considering the nature of products, all operations are performed using high-lift trucks. During reception of goods, the products are put on a pallet which has already been marked with a preliminarily printed label indicating the pallet number. The serial number is scanned from each product, the loaded products are then assigned a pallet number and the system suggests an ideal free location for put-away, which the worker confirms by scanning the barcode of the particular warehouse location. After the goods have been received, respective data on the received goods are exported through the data interface to the company ERP.
Incoming customer orders are, after having been processed by the sales department, sent to the system and displayed on screen of all terminals. If any warehouse worker logs in to a particular order, he is then navigated by the system in the warehouse and removes individual items of the order from storage. He verifies the correctness of the released goods by reading the product barcodes. One order may be simultaneously processed by any number of workers who may login to or logout from the given order. During order processing, the order first displays onscreen with an attribute of unfinished order and the state of release in percentage. Products are moved from their storage locations to the dispatch area in which they are put on dispatch pallets which are also marked with preliminarily printed barcode labels. After the pallet has been completed, product codes are read, the pallet number is added and the shipping label is printed by the thermal transfer printer with the customer’s address and pallet contents on it. When the finished pallets are being dispatched and loaded on trucks, completeness of each order is checked by reading the pallet codes. After the dispatch process, dispatched goods data are exported to the company IS.
Two remote consignment stocks are also managed and supplied using barcodes. In this case, each released product is recorded by scanning the barcode by a manual scanner which is connected to a PC. When the stock level of the particular product drops below a predefined minimum, a stock replenishment request is generated. Such requests are, without any operators’ interference, automatically electronically sent to the production area twice a day. Here, they are received by an electronic order processing module altogether with other formats, usually according to the VDA standard, and, then, they automatically display on-screen on the warehouse workers’ terminals for processing.
This absolutely paperless warehouse management system extraordinarily increases labour productivity in the warehouse. It is evidenced by the fact that even though the production volume has increased ten times within a few years, the number of warehouse workers has remained the same for a long time and, today, it is about twice the original number. Moreover, in this company, you will not find a number of people in various positions responsible for the dispatch of products, which is the usual case in other companies. The results of the first stocktaking were very surprising since they involved an absolutely negligible number of identified mistakes. Such technology does not represent only a competitive advantage in terms of a significant cost reduction but, thanks to its exceptional flexibility, it also made it possible to significantly shorten the purchase order lead time far below the usual competitors’ level. This, altogether with the production quality, was undoubtedly the main reason of the company’s exceptional success on the Central European automotive subcontractor market.
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