Whether you are pulling out your sweaters for the colder temperature, raking leaves, or preparing for the holidays, fall is a very busy season.
But is your business ready for fall? Here are some things you may want to consider.
BarTender, label and barcode creation software, is also a great tool for managing label formats. This capability is illustrated in a case study, where using BarTender, Adaptive Data helped a specialty chemical manufacturer in Ohio reduce label files from 9,000 to less than 30.
For a Tier 1 automotive manufacturer supplying to Honda, making sure only “good” parts were shipped was the end goal. However, the difference between a "good" part and a "bad" part was only thousandths of an inch, leaving the supplier little room for error.
The supplier manufacturers only one part, but faced two key challenges in delivering the part:
One key dimension is the singular factor that determines if a part is good or bad. The measurement is taken with an electronic micrometer to validate a part has been produced to spec. A green light on the micrometer indicates a good part.
In both the old and new systems, this process is the same. However, under the old system, what happened next was completely on the operator who had to visualize the light indicator for each part and act accordingly:
Due to its repetitive nature, the process was prone to errors. Distractions and interruptions in the process also added to the probably of errors occurring.
adi POWERPRINT Solo provides a stand-alone, smart printing solution for production labeling. In this case, the Honeywell PD43 smart printer was used. Smart printers run independently of a host computer and are programmable. These capabilities make smart printing ideal for line side printing, where environments are not suitable for PCs.
For this supplier, the solution consisted of 2 stand-alone printers, providing checks and balances for the following printing processes:
Printer 1 is responsible for printing the item label. Through the POWERPRINT Solo program, the printer receives input from the electronic micrometer and will only print an item label if the “green light” was given for that part. This ensures that a bad part is never labeled or put into a tote for shipment to Honda.
Printer 2 is responsible for printing the tote labels. Through the POWERPRINT Solo program, the printer keeps count (by scanning the barcode on the item label) of the number of parts going into the tote (all of which have been previously verified as “good” parts) and will only print the tote labels when the tote has received the right quantity of parts.
By automating production labeling with adi POWERPRINT Solo smart printing, the supplier was able to automative production labeling and eliminate errors.
By Jevon Kennedy August 2, 2018
The 5 second rule . . . that highly subjective rule of thumb everyone uses when you drop something. For me, the value of the item that errantly falls to the floor is tied to how much I really, really, really want to save it. Drop a piece of broccoli and even before it hits the floor, it’s been there too long. A piece of chocolate . . . a completely different story. You get the gist.
However, when setting or resetting the IP address on a Zebra ZT620 (using the printer itself), the full 5 seconds applies.
Watch the video for step-by-step instructions on how to set the IP address on the ZT620.
We’ve talked a lot about RFID . . . the technology, the hardware, the benefits. There is no doubt, RFID automates the collection of data, a lot of data in fact. But what you do with all that data once you’ve collected it, is the real key to success.
Recently, ADI installed an RFID inventorying and shipping system for a customer using Tagit Operator software, a suite of application for encoding, validation, packaging, shipping and receiving RFID tagged products.
Tagit Operator software connects to the customer’s ERP system and pulls data directly from the sales orders scheduled for a user specified date range. The “bridge” or connection to the ERP system is seamless with Tagit Operator software. In this case, E2 is the ERP system being used. It is designed for companies small to large that mainly do manufacturing and provides a seamless environment that controls every aspect of the production work flow to maintain cost effectiveness and production speed.
RFID tags are printed and encoded at the manufacturing line and parts are labeled right from the start. Visibility of all moving parts throughout the manufacturing process is key. Currently, encoding is done from a centralized station which allows the user to bring up an order, and print and encode the labels for that order. Future plans will be to have a encoding station at each manufacturing line to further streamline the process.
Immediately following production, parts are sent to either an assembly area and then to a staging area or directly to a staging area. Using a handheld reader, the parts are inventoried and the location is updated within the software. With numerous orders being produced at any given time, sometimes with hundreds of line items per order, having visibility and traceability of the production floor was key to their success.
Once everything for an order has been assembled, the order goes to shipping and RFID is employed to ensure orders are shipped correctly and complete. RFID portals were installed at each of the 3 dock doors. As orders are loaded, they must pass through the RFID portal. The system reads the tags and verifies it against the order being loaded.
The most interesting part of the software was our connection to the customers back end database which was a bridge to E2. What made this so special was the seamless way the bridge in the Tagit Operator software connected and talked to the customer’s ERP system. No custom programming required!! This means that the software didn’t take long to install or set-up on-sight.
The bridge allows us to configure the database connection in many different ways according to what works best for the customer’s situation. The bridge also allows us to easily refresh order data that is there and will create the entry for us to select that order and print the tags connected.
In phase 2, the customer’s ERP will be updated in real time, allowing them to close out orders in their ERP system, giving them complete visibility of every order in their facility. Eventually, the system will auto-print the packing slip this closing the loop on the order.
"In today’s world of increasing customer expectations and delivery requirements, a distribution center’s overall velocity can impact how well they survive in their local markets."
In "Receiving Best Practices" written by Kevin Ledversis, Newcastle Systems, Inc. and Derek Browning, LeanCor, the authors discuss the key principles to decreasing bottlenecks and increasing velocity in the DC.
The need to increase efficiency (or velocity) in distribution centers is due in large part to the growing expectation that order-to-shipment time is now measured in hours not days.
"Process improvements should be targeted at minimizing the wastes of the warehouse, namely excess motion and transportation that occurs when work-stations are not where they should be or materials are not stored or received as they should be."
With labor being one of the highest expenses in a warehouse operation, streamlining human processes is key to velocity. One way to do that is by using mobile powered carts which allow the work station to be brought to the point-of-need.
"By minimizing unnecessary “touches” and the number of steps that workers have to take on the warehouse floor, shippers can essentially double workforce productivity while also eliminating costly waste. It’s really simple math."
In manufacturing and warehousing EPC Gen2 tags have become the standard. These Ultra High Frequency or UHF tags are a good choice for these environments for a number of reasons:
A number of factors affect tag performance, especially in these environments. But as long as you know what to look for and plan accordingly, RFID delivers many benefits.
Tag size and read distance are directly related. Generally speaking, the size of the tag affects the size of the antenna which in turn affects read distance. So identifying tag size and desired read distance at the onset of the project is a must.
The reader and number of antennas attached to the reader can enhance signal strength/read distance, but only to a certain extent. Doing the math upfront is an important piece of the puzzle to ensure optimum performance of your RFID system.
Environment is a very important factor to consider in tag selection. Both the general environment in which the tag resides, as well as the item being tagged; both its surface and where applicable what’s inside the item being tagged, are all factors that need to be taken into consideration in tag selection.
Manufacturing and DCs can be tricky environments for RFID use. In manufacturing, electrical noise from machinery, lighting and the like can interfere with RFID signals. In warehouse environments, metal surfaces (shelving, metal items, machinery, etc.) can affect the RFID signal, as can the density of the product on the shelves and the continually shifting configuration of any warehouse. Testing is always the answer to making the right choice and should be as close to what you anticipate real conditions will be (labels, reader, label placement, antenna placement etc.) to get the most accurate results.
There’s very little that can’t be tagged, but some surfaces are harder to tag then others. Tagging metals can be problematic as metal reflects the signal and can short out the antenna. A layer of insulation between the tag and metal surface is the remedy. There are tags specifically made to be put on metal surfaces. However, the Zebra Silverline product is the only RFID tag for metal surfaces that can be printed on demand.
Liquids are known for being troublesome for RFID, as they can absorb the RFID signal. However, not all liquids are created equal when it comes to their difficulty factor. Take water and oil for example: they are at opposite ends of the scale . . . water having little to no effect on tag performance and oil being one of the most difficult substances to tag. So what’s the difference? It’s the amount of carbon in oil that affects RFID performance. So if you’re talking salad dressing you’re okay, but motor oil (or any other carbon laden substance) that's another story.
When mapping out your RFID strategy, the tag density or number of tags in a given area, should be part of the conversation. For example: When a large number of small, individually tagged items are put in a larger container, it might be difficult to make sure each tag has been read. In cases like this, we recommend content is known in the supporting data.
Where a tag is placed is also an important factor to consider. When tagging on the outside of an object, uniform placement is typically the best practice. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Take for example cartons that are being palletized. Depending on the carton size and/or the size of the pallet, cartons may not all be stacked in the same direction and could contain inner cartons.
In many manufacturing use cases, the RFID tag is placed on the inside of an object or its packaging. This is especially true in automotive and aerospace manufacturing where suppliers have a requirement to track sub-assemblies and placing the tag on the outside of the part is not an option. The material and density of the object will affect the performance of the tag, so testing is always recommended.
Other factors including tag size, reader strength and tag density will also figure into the equation when determining tag placement.
Test, test, test! It's all about fine tuning the solution for optimum performance.