HEAVY MANUFACTURING TURNS LIGHT WITH RFID
POSCO steels itself for logistics gains with automated RFID solution
POSCO, one of the world’s leading steelmakers, has deployed an RFID-based logistics system to streamline critical operational processes, provide its customers with real-time product information and improve packaging and shipping accuracy. After all, when you manufacture multi-ton metal parts, customer returns are no easy – or inexpensive – matter. However, the company faced a special challenge in its quest to harness RFID technology for efficiency gains: It would be deploying its logistics solution in a pervasive metal environment that interferes with RF signal readability.
POSCO teamed with SMARTRAC to design a proprietary RFID-based logistics system that leverages modified DogBone™ UHF RFID tags, hand-held industrial PDAs, fixed RFID readers attached to cranes and placed at factory gates, enterprise resource planning and manufacturing execution systems and a server. Manufactured metal coils are tagged with custom DogBone™ tags that have two antennas and are placed inside heavy metal coils, perpendicularly to the items’ curved surfaces. Applying the RFID solution as a flag tag, or standing upright tag, ensures their readability, while the DogBone™’s paper-based delivery format keeps RFID tags affordable for large-scale inventory deployments. Items are tagged during packaging and read when moved to the warehouse, during storage and again as they are packaged for shipment.
By implementing the RFID-based logistics system, POSCO has automated the inspection, packaging and shipping of its metal coil products, eliminating errors that occurred previously with manual processes. Meanwhile, customers can instantly access real-time data they need to plan their own production operations because the RFID system integrates seamlessly with their own planning solutions via the internet. By providing easy access to better data, as well as more accurate shipments, POSCO has boosted customer satisfaction.
When it comes to streamlining operational processes, it’s clear that RFID technology is more than able to do some heavy lifting. Multi-ton steel coils are no match for tiny UHF RFID tags, which can literally read through walls. Now that’s some extra-sensory perception!