Paper mills use RFID technology to optimize production and inventory management
For Brazilian paper companies that do not require identification, increasing inventory visibility and accelerating production schedules are key requirements for their production plans, so the company invested in iTag's RFID system. The system uses iTag's label and Acura's reader to improve the paper company's operational processes and production planning.
Prior to the deployment of RFID, the papermaking process was performed manually, with several calculations performed by several workers on each paper type, including different weights, sizes, and machine efficiencies, as well as specific shifts and operators. “We didn’t make an estimate of the customer’s needs, such as monitoring customer orders based on paper type, weight and quality, so it’s impossible to reduce costs through more efficient manufacturing processes,” said one of the factory’s executives.
The company's goal is to produce only the products that are needed on the market based on consumption statistics. The executive explained, “We are currently implementing internal and external management of BI (Business Intelligence) integrated applications through RFID solutions to enable extensive data collection and data support, ensuring cost savings and increased flexibility across all processes.”
With the RFID system, the company has begun to accurately know which inventory is available for sale at any given time. The executive said, “In many cases, this information comes from a knowledgeable staff checking the number of coils in the yard. Such an inventory survey can take 4 to 5 hours to end.”
The difficulty of obtaining inventory information may have a ripple effect on the production scheduling of new paper rolls. With RFID technology, companies can monitor the production date of a particular coil, the machine operator, the type of paper used, weight and other variables. All information is now stored in the smart tag.
The current import and export of stocks is controlled by RFID, which reduces the process of production control through manual tokens. The executive said, “We only have one employee responsible for verifying data and reports. These data and reports raise requirements for iTag services; we have also reduced the number of inspectors, currently only two operators.”
The RFID process begins with the production of larger female coils and then produces smaller sub-coils. At this stage, all the information needed for internal control is weighed and filled out. During the release process, the system automatically matches the tag to the parent coil to avoid erroneous operation. Every time a label is released, the sales department immediately knows that there is a new product with availability in the inventory, which will drive the picking process (assembling the order via the RFID gantry before sending it to the customer).
After the sorting order is issued and completed, the goods are separated from the stock, and the invoices and documents can be generated by themselves, and the weight and other data are filled out. This is due to the integration with the RFID system, which not only ensures the efficiency of the operation, but also reduces the incidence of errors. The executive said, "The company has made progress in all areas of personnel, operations and control after deploying the RFID system. It can be said that the current operation makes us feel very safe and RFID has indeed met our expectations."
The company's deployed RFID system complies with GS1's passive EPC UHF standard and allows users to query product information from anywhere in the world via tagged electronic product codes. The executive pointed out that "this will help the export business, but also help customers generally recognize the product."
An RFID gantry is mounted in a project-specific structure with an antenna and eight readers that are evenly distributed between the side brackets. All readers come from Acura and are used with iTag's sticky label, which includes the Impinj Monza R6 chip. The executive added, “We use 10,000 labels per month and these labels cannot be reused.”