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RFID in Manufacture

Manufacturing operations in today’s globally competitive environment need to be extremely efficient in terms of quality, cost, time and flexibility in order to survive and prosper. The ability to derive maximum production and operational efficiency to respond quickly to customer needs and competitive challenges requires real-time information on inventory, equipment and workflow in industrial applications. Productivity is often slowed down due to lack of visibility as to the status and location of inventory, equipment and people, resulting in delays, increased cost and ultimately loss of business. RFID helps meet these challenges in industries across the manufacturing sector.

RFID solutions promote cost management and operational efficiency through asset tracking by automatically detecting movement of components and equipment throughout the manufacturing process, resulting in efficient information management and timely decision making. Implementing RFID on the plant floor and synchronizing it with an RFID-enabled supply chain enables just-in-time production through efficient inventory management, shrinkage reduction and reduced stock levels. It helps minimize production down-time and optimize production scheduling, resulting in a reduced time cycle and increased throughput. It also improves load balancing and enhances coordination across multiple product lines and locations.

RFID optimizes work-in-progress through real-time component and production line tracking, identifies and reduces bottlenecks, manages allocation and streamlines equipment dispatch, enabling process efficiency and the adoption of lean manufacturing practices. Asset management is enhanced through the indication of usablity status of reusable assets and automated maintenance scheduling. RFID increases labour productivity by minimizing the need for human intervention in product movement, thus enabling the redistribution of labour to more value-added tasks. It helps ensure personnel safety in hazardous environments by ensuring visibility of employee whereabouts. Sensor-based RFID also provides alerts to changes in critical conditions.

RFID promotes quality control and compliance by ensuring the use of correct components, monitoring exact matching in materials and equipment, minimizing errors and automating reports. It also helps the sorting and packaging process become more accurate. Genealogy tracking for retrace in product recall is efficiently achieved through RFID. Real-time tracking of data from upstream and downstream partners also enables indexing and integration of information that benefits all parties - suppliers, manufacturers and distributors.

RFID is a flexible and versatile solution that can be deployed in batch, process and discrete manufacturing across a variety of applications and operational environments. It is a cost- effective and efficient technology that automates and improves processes while integrating with, updating and optimizing existing manufacturing operational and information systems. RFID today presents a vast opportunity for value creation and competitive advantage in the manufacturing sector. It will soon become an indispensable part of the plant floor and the modern manufacturing environment.
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