Created in 2011, the ESTnet is the electronic and software technologies network for Wales. It represents companies who design, develop, manufacture and integrate some of the world’s most advanced technologies. They have an ongoing commitment to optimise the industry sector’s growth through support and collaboration. http://www.estnet.uk.net/
Emerging Tech Fest, at the Catrin Finch Centre is designed to encourage businesses in the technology sector to engage in current and timely discourse regarding;
“How emerging technologies are already impacting you, your business, your industry and your supply chain through a full-day of thought-provoking talks, interactive sessions, lively discussions, hands-on demos and evidence-based insights”.
RFIDdirect welcome the opportunity for their MD Frits van Calker, to share his experiences and expertise – as an Emerging Tech Fest speaker – regarding deployment of RFID technology and Lean Management solutions in many industries by understanding the process flow.
Frits van Calker Representing RFIDdirect; ‘Bringing the Smart into Smart Factory’
What will manufacturing look like in the future?
Some say that manufacturing, even a decade from now, will look very different from today -with many elements irrevocably altered from that of 30 years ago. Data, specifically, has always played a vital role in planning and production in business, however, the immense volumes of data enabled by more recent digital technology, now has game-changing potential.
The most successful firms will, without doubt, be those capable of adopting and adapting to lean, efficient data management. Yet, the truth of the matter is, for example, that astonishingly, 76% of manufacturers still work with handwritten job cards! Adoption of digital technology is the first part of our ‘smart’ story, with efficient data capture and analytics as definitely the next chapter – the conclusion being, that efficient data will then ensure your processes are lean and competitive.
As Associate Professor of Business Administration, Feng Zhu, predicts at The Harvard business School;
“Most organizations today use data analytics to optimize or improve their existing businesses. But to take full advantage of data analytics, it will be important for them to consider the following two strategic questions:
- Can I use my data to offer new products or services to my existing customers?
- Can I leverage data to serve those customers who are currently not served by me or my competitors?”
RFID technology and lean solutions champion Frits van Calker is keen to share his experience of the development of ‘smart’ manufacturing and how he designs the introduction of smart and lean into production. His core insider knowledge of RFID technology also indicates how it can be one of the key components of the smart factory. Having achieved a diverse portfolio of consultancies and delivery of systems across the manufacturing sector, Frits has a clear view, including the issues, hesitation, cost implications and potential disruptions – but also the benefits and competitive advantages gained via data capture and connectivity, leaner processes, management and logistics.
To be predicable, it is the right point to bring in the ever-popular phrase Internet of Things. Simply put, it describes the way a wide range of Smart devices and other technologies are linked to cloud computing and enable the sharing and management of data. This connectivity and combination of Big data capture on smart devices, data management in cloud computing, and real time (management) reporting is a proven concept for Industry 4.0. and, obviously, the development of the Smart factory.
More Data, More Intelligence
It is widely acknowledged that indeed data and information are powerful and can inform and edify the manufacturing process and supply chain. As companies/businesses collect more data, the need to understand and analyse that data for competitive advantage will significantly increase. Many will instinctively search for tools/technology that increase the efficiency of their workers and maximize the effectiveness of their resources.
Through our experience at RFIDdirect, collating the data (in the first place) optimally, is key to any solution and can be achieved through RFID technology – making data capture part of any solution for automated data collection in a wide range of industries. Tracking an object (including documents) from the moment of arrival at the plant until departure can dramatically reduce transaction time, offer real time visibility of stock, help make more accurate production plans and improve the efficiency of ERP systems.
Data Capture can be real time, including the geographical location of an item – by understanding the application and process flow throughout its production process will predict the best moment to catch data. A timely reminder, here, that hand-written data is not only costly in labour time, but also open for misinterpretations of the written values – resulting in mistakes and loss!
Additional benefits and ROI include accurate inventory counts and visibility of stock. We have determined that when an item departs or proceeds to the next phase in the logistic chain, RFID and/ or in combination with other technologies (such as barcode) can be deployed to track and trace items efficiently and speedily. This clearly helps businesses to meet their clients’ needs whilst future proofing business models to meet more demanding markets that will inevitably require greater personalisation and bespoke production.
Tracking an object from the moment it arrives at the plant until it leaves as a finished product can dramatically reduce transaction time, offer real time visibility of stock, create accuracy. RFID is an automatic identification and data collection technology quite different from traditional AIDC, as it does not require a line of sight and human intervention. The technology promises to create significant changes in modern business environments by providing the means to identify the location and movement of individual items in real-time, transforming supply chains into demand chains rate production plans and improve the efficiency of ERP systems (McFarlane et al., 2003).
Other outcomes of a well-designed and fit for purpose data capture solution allow companies to improve, streamline and maximize their competitive advantages: including service management, product life cycle compliance/traceability and reverse traceability to comply to legal reconciliation automation along the entire supply chain. There is absolute certainty that these complementary elements (parallel to legacy or traditional products, services or solutions already in place) will be essential as part of any future business model.
Developing A Smart Manufacturing Environment
With the above in mind, the focus for RFIDdirect’s consulting and scoping exercises have a generic approach, looking into the overall logistic operation with the aim to improve: process, better visibility of goods in-process, inventory levels and efficiencies throughout. Detailed reports and a proof of concept are constructed after extensive staff interviews, observations, Q&A (through a great deal of careful listening!) and underpinned with Frits’ considerable process knowledge and experience.
The ‘Smart’ in the Smart Factory ideal, to sum up, describes the efficiencies made through connectivity and process management. Today’s manufacturing plants and supply chains need to be modular, fully connected and capable of improving the manufacturing process/ dispatch/delivery speed of greater customised products with more effective, scalable production:
Digitised manufacturing value chains: Pervasive computing, advanced software and sensor technologies have much further to go in transforming value chains. They will improve customer relationship management, process control, product verification, logistics, product traceability and safety systems. They will enable greater design freedom through the uses of simulation, and they will create new ways to bring customers into design and suppliers into complex production processes. (The Future of Manufacturing: A New Era of Opportunity and Challenge for the UK; Gov Office for Science summary report Oct 2013)
Benefits of ‘Smart’
- Parallel to the growing complexity of technology
- Business/ Management forward planning – predictions, future trends and innovations (management automation) ROI
- Customisation/servitization – meet customers’ expectations/ consumer demands (avoid unwanted products) better customer service and relationships
- Comparison of actual production and estimated time
- Measurement and improvement of profit margins
- Autonomous machines
- Remote working – monitoring/operating /fixing/real time information
- Compliance and maintenance – digital record keeping
- Location of defective materials and equipment
- Sustainability – ecologically sound – track&trace through production, delivery, recycle and/ or disposal
- Human interaction with better working environment/ improved work-life balance with optimised performance.
RFIDdirect has over 25 years of experience in helping companies implement and deploy RFID solutions. Beyond solving RFID problems or optimising current RFID infrastructures. The RFIDdirect approach will provide guaranteed value today, while positioning your operation to gain future benefits from a smarter process. We can also design and manufacture bespoke RFID tags unique to your application.
All our products are RoHS and REACH certified.
We are always happy to help with any enquiry.
www.info@rfiddirect 01352 752044 or 0845 249 0068