Work Order Tracking on the Manufacturing Floor

RFID for Work Order Tracking System

Work Order Tracking – Regardless of industry, be it medical devices manufacturing, semiconductor/aerospace manufacturing or industrial molding, work orders or paper travelers are an integral part of the assembly line. The actual usage of the paper traveler may differ from industry to industry, but the challenges of tracking them, remain the same.

Work orders or paper travelers usually accompany the product being manufactured. Some may relate to a single product and others relate to a batch of product. As the parts and unfinished products move through the different work cells on the manufacturing floor, the traveler needs to stay in close proximity to the unfinished product, since it contains vital information of the state of the Work in Process (WIP) product. RFID tagging the workorder enables in work order tracking which in turn allows the product to be tracked through the manufacturing process. In essence, the workorder can be a good proxy for the WIP items. This is especially true with sensitive WIP like medical devices and semiconductor wafers, where the WIP cannot be directly RFID tagged.

RFID for Work Order Tracking System
Work Order Tracking System

Various parameters can be monitored with work order tracking including the last known location of the work order, and recording the sequence of work cells it went through.  For instance, as the paper travelers are transitioning through work cells, the time spent at each work cell directly correlates to the time spent by the technicians/engineers at each work cell which in turn, feeds into calculating the Cost of product(s) being manufactured. RFID tagging the workorders and tracking them through the workstations, allows organizations to track the time spent and the speed at which parts and unfinished products move through the manufacturing floor. These insights help to improve the production efficiency where required.

Additionally, a completed workorder is an indication of finished product. So, completed work order tracking can give direct insight into how much product has been manufactured, which in turn, can provide insight into inventory levels of used and current raw material.

Occasionally, the workorder along with the unfinished product can get misplaced or ‘wander away’. The downtime that results from searching for them, can adversely impact manufacturing efficiency and throughput. RFID tagging the work orders is an excellent solution to address this issue. With AssetPulse’s AssetGather RFID based work order tracking software, the workorder can be monitored and ‘searched for’ in the event of misplacement.

Further, when manufacturing is complete, workorders may need to be archived for audit reasons, whether they are stored on site or moved offsite. Either way, RFID tagging them is an excellent and efficient way to search for them and locate them quickly.

AssetPulse’s customizable RFID asset tracking solution is used by several of AssetPulse’ customers as a work order tracking system for tracking workorder on their manufacturing floor. Few customers have also integrated this process into their GMP guidelines. Customers span various industries including aerospace, construction and biotech.

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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.

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