How AssetPulse’s RFID Tracking System transforms a traditional MES into a Real-time MES System

Companies use Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to measure and control critical production activities, offering improved traceability, productivity and quality. MES controls process flow and reduces any chance of mistakes in the process. It gathers data every step of the way including who operated on the process, when it was done, how long each process took, equipment used for the process and other parameters . Further, it provides immediate data visibility for each work order, what the current work-in-progress items are and what stage they are in. MES systems serve numerous functions, such as equipment tracking, product serialization, labor tracking, inventory management, costing, task completion capture, and defect and resolution monitoring.

In order to fine-tune the production process and hone in on areas for improvement, a more detailed visibility is needed into these areas. This requires data capture in raw material tracking which leads to inventory management tracking; costing, WIP tracking, equipment and labor tracking. By effectively digitalizing data collection and controlling the entire system, an MES can realize manyfold improvement in manufacturing efficiency and productivity. Traditional MES systems employ barcodes and/or manual data collection during all the phases. However, the gap between physical flow of product and material and information flow in the MES is too large to provide accurate visibility.  Automated data capture via AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system transforms a traditional MES system into a Real-time MES system. 

AssetPulse’s RFID Tracking System

AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system automates data collection which includes reporting of raw material consumption in real-time, which in turn, allows for real-time updates of inventory; WIP Tracking, Tool, Process Instruction Document and Operator tracking. All this information feeds into the MES to afford real-time updates of the entire manufacturing floor including real-time status of all the jobs on the floor where potential issues crop up.

Without automated data capture from AssetPulse’s RFID tracking systems, updates to MES were being provided whenever it was convenient to enter the transaction into the system. E.g. When raw material for the next workorder is sent from ‘Supermarket’ (warehouse) to be staged at the assembly line, an ERP transaction might be completed as soon as it leaves the warehouse instead of when it actually arrives at the line. This may be done, because it is easier for the warehouse to complete this transaction since there might not be anyone at the line to receive the components at the staging area of the assembly line and then enter it into the system.

With AssetPulse’s RFID tracking system, a transaction is completed only when the inventory actually arrives at the line. Similarly, WIP status is captured in real time, i.e. exactly when the operator starts work on the WIP and when he finishes. In a traditional MES system, the start time may have been the completion of the previous operation, since that is the time the operator transacts in the system.

RFID Tracking System

AssetPulse’s RFID Tracking system automatically captures the presence of all tools and equipment used on the line, travelers, documents and even the operators working at each workstation on the line. This allows alerts to be issued if and when incorrect tools, past-due calibration-equipment and documents are present. Further, it can flag operators and technicians present on the line, who haven’t completed the necessary certifications or training to perform the work.

There are numerous such examples where deployment of RFID can vastly enrich an existing MES system in order to gain maximum improvements in operational visibility, efficiency and improved quality.

Transform Traditional MES System into Real-time MES System

AssetPulse RFID Tracking System for Manufacturing

Contact Us

Benefits of RFID Inventory Tracking in Supply Chain Management

How RFID Based Asset Tracking aids in GLP/GMP Regulated Lab Management

lab equipment tracking software

Being responsible for the equipment in a GLP/GMP regulated lab is no easy task. Several compliance requirements have to be adhered to. AssetPulse’s RFID based asset tracking solutions have greatly helped streamline the equipment management of such locations.

RFID based asset tracking

 

AssetPulse RFID based Asset Tracking Software

Our real-time RFID based asset tracking solutions provide an accurate inventory of all equipment across geographic locations. It can detect addition or removal of components in qualified and/or validated systems like HPLCs. The Lab Manager can be alerted of such movements, thereby triggering a re-qualification process automatically. Failure to re-qualify can have serious logistical, technical and financial repercussions.

Several groups or departments within the organization are interested in knowing the whereabouts of the equipment. They include not only the actual users of the equipment – R&D personnel or cleanroom manufacturing personnel, but also other departments like Metrology or personnel who are responsible for calibration or preventive maintenance of the equipment. Each of these groups is looking for equipment at different times of the equipment’s’ lifecycle. Tracking compliance documents related to the equipment is also a time-consuming task. Often, the documents are stored in a separate physical location and are subject to the normal woes of searching for misplaced documents.

Before the use of RFID, the equipment databases were woefully out of sync with reality. This resulted in Finance and QA departments to initiate audits often, in order to update their databases. Small teams of scientists/researchers would need to be assembled, to scour the labs looking for equipment, severely impacting their overall productivity.

AssetPulse RFID based Asset Tracking Software Maintains Centralized Database of Asset Information

Maintaining accurate inventory of all the equipment and keeping their details up to date can be a full time job. Details include location, manufacturer, model, serial number, received date, deployment date and all maintenance related information including calibration/maintenance schedules, non-routine repairs, performance verification and revalidation dates.  The AssetPulse database allows all such detailed information to be maintained in one central database, accessible to all concerned players including R&D, Quality and Finance personnel.

Equipment qualification results in several sets of documents to be generated that are roughly slotted into three categories:

  • Specification – Documents specifying the equipment from the user and manufacturer’s perspective, including the URS (User Requirements Specification), FRS (Functional Requirements Specification) and DS (Design Specification)
  • Protocol – These encompass the procedures stating how qualification is conducted including test procedures, operating ranges and acceptance criteria
  • Report – Include the Traceability Matrix and Summary Reports
  • In the Specification group, the written document includes the critical attributes for the equipment from the user’s and manufacturer’s aspects. User Requirement Specification (URS), Functional Requirement Specification (FRS), and Design Specification (DS) are in this group.
  • In the Protocol group, the written procedures state how the qualification will be conducted. This may include the test units, test procedures, critical test parameters, operating ranges, sampling plan, and acceptance criteria. Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ), and Performance Qualification (PQ).
  • In the Report group, the written document reports the qualification activities and results, and traces back to the test items with their specifications/ requirements Traceability Matrix, ™ and Summary Report.

Once Validation is complete, the equipment has to be regularly maintained including undergoing calibration and other preventive maintenance procedures. The AssetGather RFID system also helps personnel to locate the equipment when it is due for calibration.

The AssetGather database allows all relevant documents to be stored together with the equipment details. IQ (Installation Qualification)/OQ (Operational Qualification)/PQ (Performance Qualification) documents, standard operating procedures, warranty certificates, calibration certificates can be made easily accessible through the database. This allows audits to be done a lot quicker, instead of having to sift through a myriad of documents in order to locate the appropriate pieces of paper.

Thus, the use of RFID can effectively bridge any visibility gaps with respect to Asset Management in Analytical labs, hospitals and in pharmaceutical manufacturing supply chains.

Looking for RFID Based Asset Tracking Software?

RFID Solutions Customized for your Industry

Contact Us

RFID Inventory Tracking of Raw Material in a 2 Bin Kanban System

Many well reputed companies have deployed the 2 Bin Kanban system of inventory management in their manufacturing facilities. This simple system employs two bins to manage small but critical raw material inventory on the assembly line. Parts are supplied in this pull system through two rotating bins. The technician pulls parts from one bin till it is empty and then switches to the second bin. The empty first bin triggers an event that causes the bin to be replenished.

RFID Inventory Tracking of Raw material

Often, manual labor is used to look for empty bins on the line. A ‘runner’ periodically moves through the lines, picking up the empty bins and transporting them to the warehouse for replenishment. Some parts need replenishment more often than others. This can easily either cause delays and consequently, bottlenecks on the assembly line or require more manual labor, thereby increasing costs.

AssetPulse has worked with manufacturing organizations to proactively alert when an empty bin is generated. Communicating with ERP and other manufacturing systems, the Warehouse is able to decide when to deploy the ‘runner’ to pick up bins on specific lines, thereby optimizing the ‘pick up’ process. Additionally the speed at which the individual items are pulled will determine how many of the items are placed in the bins. This will help in identifying the number of items required to replenish the first bin, so that there is little risk of running low on stock which in turn could slow down production.

Benefits of RFID Inventory Tracking in Supply Chain Management

Choosing the right RFID tags for this use case is critical. Since the bins can be placed in close proximity of one another, it is very important that only the correct bins are read, and not other extraneous bins located close by. This issue of cross-reads can be a fundamental reason why the whole system can break down. Cross-reads can also be facilitated by choosing incorrect hardware – the RFID reader and/or RFID antenna. This is one main reason, why it is recommended that the Manufacturing Organization work with a single vendor to deploy such solutions, thereby optimizing all aspects of the solution – the RFID tags, the RFID reader hardware and the RFID software.

It is the software that facilitates proper handling of the bins. E.g., once the Warehouse replenishes the bins, our RFID Inventory Tracking Solutions can be used to ensure correct dispensing of bins, i.e. are the correct replenished bins placed at the correct locations? Working in close integration with ERP and Manufacturing Systems, AssetPulse RFID inventory tracking solutions communicate information about these bins back and forth, validating the correct placement of bins and alerting when exceptions occur.

The 2 Bin Kanban system of inventory management is typically used in industries that function in high volumes. Further, this system is suited for manufacturing lines where there is high overlap of parts across multiple product lines. The same RFID solutions can also be leveraged to expedite changeovers on the line. Changeover is the process of converting a manufacturing line from one product to another or from one work order to another. The tedious, but critical task of removing all bins from the ‘old’ line and deploying the bins required for the ‘new’ line, is time consuming and error prone.

Leveraging AssetPulse’s RFID solutions, organizations are able to complete this task quicker and with fewer errors. Our system has real-time information about the exact location of all the bins (when they are being tracked via RFID at the workstations). Due to continuous integration with ERP and Manufacturing systems, we are able to make decisions on which bins can remain in place, which bins need to be removed and what new bins need to be added to the line. Validation of the removal of old bins and placement of new bins is also done.

This field is required.
This field is required.
This field is required.
This field is required.
0 + 0
Please enter the correct sum of above values

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.

Real-Time WIP Tracking Solution for Instant Visibility

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.

WIP Tracking

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.

WIP Tracking Solution with ERP Integration

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.

Looking for Asset Management Software?

RFID Solution Customized for your Industry

Contact Us

RFID for Inventory Control in Manufacturing

RFID Implemented for Inventory Control in Manufacturing Operations

Managing inventory levels in a cost-effective and revenue-driven manner can be difficult, even for the most experienced manufacturer. Without access to effective systems to help automate inventory control processes, properly managing inventory levels can be quite the challenge for manufacturers. AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solutions helps in automating inventory management.

RFID Implemented for Inventory Control in Manufacturing Operations
RFID Based Inventory Control in Manufacturing Operations

AssetPulse’ inventory control capabilities allow manufacturers to automate their processing based off of previous purchasing trends and can even set reminder alert for raw material orders to renew when needed. With a real time inventory data, inventory control becomes less of a pain point and more a second nature

How inventory is traditionally managed?

Many different ways are used to keep control of inventory. One basic method is by creating a spreadsheet with various columns for product name, item number, and quantity. A column to deduct what is sold or consumed. Additionally, a log for returns and new incoming stock is maintained. It requires continuous manual monitoring to ensure every transaction is accounted for.

For more sophisticated customers, they may be using an ERP system to track inventory and inventory levels. Often data input into these systems is also manual – often through barcode scanners.

Of course, these are all labor-intensive processes. The information is difficult to share, and another huge pitfall is human error. People are prone to make mistakes––mistakes that are difficult to track and result in inaccurate inventory numbers.

Forecasting Demand

A manufacturer relies on inventory to complete a finished product for which they expect to get paid. For example, an aerospace manufacturer has millions of dollars in parts in their inventory of raw materials that they include in the finished product.

Forecasting demand is essential for any business. For a manufacturer, this means having enough inventory on hand to meet this demand. If a manufacturer fails to forecast demand and orders too little inventory, they face the possibility of losing customers to a competitor. A late order may come at a higher expense, as supplier prices rise due to increased demand; this is another way the manufacturer loses money. If the manufacturer overestimates demand and orders too much inventory, they stand the chance of having unused inventory and may have to incur additional storage costs.

AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solution

Inventory management can be automated with the help of AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solution. RFID tags are affixed onto the items that are inventoried. Fixed readers can be strategically placed either at the source or the destination to monitor transfer of inventory. E.g. inventory can be tracked in VLMs (Vertical Lift Modules), on shelves where inventory is stored or the carts that carry inventory from one location to another. RFID readers can be placed also at the destination where the inventory is consumed.  With the help of these fixed RFID readers or handheld RFID scanners, inventory data is updated in real-time or periodically, whichever is optimal.

The AssetGather RFID based tracking system is available as a hosted solution or as an on-Prem solution – inventory data is readily accessible from anywhere, in either case. Apart from this, AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solution also alerts users when the inventory level is running below par and inventory thresholds are likely to be breached imminently. All this happens automatically without any human intervention, thereby making the otherwise time consuming process very efficient and accurate.

AssetGather also can integrate with other ERP systems to update those system with inventory data that is automatically collected by AssetGather. Integrations can span a range, from very simple exchange of data to more complex integrations that not only update inventory data, but also facilitate and validate various manufacturing processes as they occur in real-time.

The RFID asset tracking software also has different reports including historical reports which enables manufacturer to forecast a demand and stock required inventory.

Looking for Asset Management Software?

RFID Solution Customized for your Industry

Contact Us
1 2