RFID & [WIP] Work-in-Progress Tracking System for Manufacturing Units

WIP Tracking, Work-in-progress tracking encompasses nearly all the phases of manufacturing. It starts with tracking raw material which includes Receiving and the Put Away process. AssetPulse’s RFID solutions can provide Real Time visibility of flow of materials through the production process. It allows for a lean and optimized production process by keeping the demand and build requirements in sync.

As WIP is converted to subassemblies, they are moved standalone or in bins, containers and totes. We work with the Manufacturing Engineers to determine what should be tagged – the physical subassembly itself or the containers which carry them. This is a function of the ease and practicality with which the subassemblies themselves can be tagged. The factors to determine this include, the size of the subassembly, the material it is made of, the environment that the tag would be exposed to, contamination risk etc.  Class III Medical Devices and Semiconductor Wafers are cases where it is not likely direct-tagging is possible due to contamination risk. The extremely high temperatures in a firing process in industrial manufacturing may not allow for direct tagging.

Tracking WIP in real time provides accurate snapshots of exactly when it entered and exited a specific phase in production. Relying on personnel to ‘log in and log out’ WIP at each phase can lead to costly errors, especially in time-sensitive processes in medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing, where timestamps are also recorded.

Work in Progress Tracking System

Work-in-Progress Tracking System

WIP tracking can be accomplished in real-time or at critical junctures in the manufacturing process. This is also a function of the manufacturing environment. Industrial manufacturing floors lend themselves well to real-time tracking since there is typically, sufficient room to deploy RFID read-points on the floor. With respect to Clean Room Assembly lines, real-time tracking is possible with careful study of the lines and determining optimal RFID read-point locations at each workstation. AssetPulse has extensive experience with both industrial and Clean Room manufacturing operations.

Working closely with Manufacturing Engineering and Operations, we have successfully deployed our RFID solutions where bottlenecks, ‘waiting for parts’ stoppages, ‘completed too quickly’ steps, ‘taking too long’ steps, out-of-sequence steps etc. have been detected accurately and efficiently. Tracking Rework and scrapped parts provides visibility into oft-obscured parts of production.

AssetGather RFID solutions work hand-in-hand with Enterprise Resource Planning Systems during the entire manufacturing process. ERP systems track the virtual flow of raw materials through the processes while AssetGather’s RFID solutions track the physical flow. Real time updates back and forth between the two systems, allow not only for an efficient work flow, but also allows for maintaining integrity within the entire process by physically validating various process steps and alerting when an anomaly is detected.

It is highly recommended that all stakeholders in Manufacturing are involved in designing and deploying RFID solutions. Processes may need to be changed slightly or significantly, and in some cases, eliminated entirely. The initial scoping, design and redesign of processes is worth the effort, since this can result in a many-fold improvement in visibility, efficiency, accuracy and overall quality.

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