Emerging Technologies

Innovative tools of the trade

By Vanda Ametlli

RFID for logistics and beyond

The increasing number of technology solutions being offered to meet industry needs for inventory management and product planning has created a market for tools that combine input from engineering, production and existing inventory management systems.

Plataine and Intermec are two companies that have completed the groundwork of building a strong information technology infrastructure to help provide holistic solutions that connect the end-user with the output of the application or hardware. Total Production Optimization (TPO) software, designed by Plataine, takes production asset tracking to the next level of efficiency.

TPO offers the flexibility of using existing RFID tag systems or implementing new RFID tags that best work with TPO systems. The ability to leverage RFID tagging to develop a system that takes two-dimensional data – such as knowing the location of a product and its temperature between various production stages and aligning it with actual production – helps reduce the wasting of resources.

Unlike standard on-site software applications, Plataine provides its optimization algorithm by using cloud computing. The algorithm takes critical information from existing enterprise resource planning/manufacturing resource planning, CAD and production floor systems to provide a comprehensive and optimized production plan. Furniture, apparel, aerospace and defense industries, all sectors where complex moving parts result in numerous production constraints, have been able to use TPO to decide which order to turn, when to run as well as which material and machine to use while meeting demand.

In the expanding market of RFID tags, the Intermec IF2 Network Reader aims to support users that need connectivity between RFID tag data and an enterprise system. The reader benefits customers by having a low cost per read while having high performance and space efficiency.

The reader is small and light, being 7.42 inches by 6.42 inches with a weight of 2.2 pounds. It adapts easily to industrial and manufacturing operations. It also can serve to support inventory management systems that the TPO system would use as an input.

The IF2 reader, similar to the TPO system, requires users to pass information and data through a server. The radio frequency platform in the IF2 is designed by the manufacturer and contains precise technology to react to different levels of chipsets. The IF2’s four antenna ports can be configured to transmit in either mono- or bi-static mode, making the reader system flexible enough to handle any application or environment. And power over Ethernet allows you to scale up deployments without adding additional electrical drops.

As industries modify or design flexible manufacturing environments to accommodate consumer needs, they need to leverage RFID tagging beyond the traditional inventory management system to support overall production planning.

Vanda Ametlli is a principal management engineer in surgical services at Henry Ford Hospital. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in industrial engineering from Wayne State University. She is a blog contributor for IIE’s Young Professionals group.