Vidrala has installed an innovative per-unit pallet tracking system at its Albacete (Caudete) production centre, to improve Its internal efficiency, from production to dispatch to the customer.
The system, designed and implemented by JSV Informática y Comunicaciones using Intermec technology, has made it possible not only to eliminate pallet identification errors completely, but also to speed up internal movements and reduce handling costs.
According to José Manuel Delicado, in charge of the project at Vidrala, “after an in-depth analysis of the problems we had, it was clear that RFID could be the ideal solution for our process, although it was not wholly free of risks, since this project would have an effect on all the key areas of our business such as logistics, quality control or IT systems.”
For pallet identification, a tag has been incorporated in the DIN A4 sheet. When the sheet is printed, the pallet’s unique identification is recorded on the tag. For the recording of the tags in this process, Intermec IF30 fixed mount RFID readers were used, connected to the printing process and to the robots of the DIN A4 sheet applying machine. JSV has been responsible for the entire setting up of the printing systems and of the robotic equipment. One of the main technical aims of the project was to integrate the recording system in Vidrala’s labelling equipment and in the other processes without making changes to the work operations.
Vidrala also uses forklift trucks equipped with RFID readers, so the processes of location and picking of orders and the corresponding identification of the different pallets are fully automated. Vidrala fitted its forklifts with Intermec IV7 readers and with CV30 vehicle mount terminals, which direct the operations of the warehouse workers. These readers or interrogators are especially designed to operate on forklift trucks, so the reading is done instantaneously with the handling of the pallet.
Vidrala opted for Intermec RFID technology and infrastructure. “Among the solutions available on the market, this one seemed likely to be a good option for us, taking into account our needs and the quality/price ratio offered by Intermec,” adds Delicado.
Should it be necessary to re-label pallets, the operatives have Intermec CN3 handheld units fitted with an IP30 reader/recorder. In this process the operative reads a barcode and records the same information on the tag.
The employees have given the new system a positive welcome. “The response and involvement of our operatives has been very positive, since the system helps them to work accurately, optimising the processes,” comments Delicado.
Vidrala has a huge number of references and it is often difficult to differentiate one from another visually, so the previous manual identification procedure led to errors in the order picking process. With RFID identification, these errors have disappeared completely.
“Furthermore, the fact that we have technology that allows per-unit control of each pallet opens up doors to numerous processes for improvement in different areas, especially in logistics, quality control or customer service,” says Delicado.
One of the most immediate projects involves integrating the RFID solution with the SAP system in a totally transparent way. “This will enable us, for example, not only to achieve one hundred per cent reliability in the dispatch processes, but also to reduce significantly the administration they require and to speed up the processes of documentation with the carriers and customers to the greatest possible extent.”
Likewise, a total integration of RFID with ERP will make it possible to achieve realtime consolidation of data relating to stock, orders and dispatching, optimising the planning and performance of the operations even more, so that the planning and production data generated in SAP can be exploited directly by the RFID system and the reverse will also be true at the time of reconciling the dispatches with the batches of products.