Bathroom and Kitchen Fittings Maker Uses RFID to Speed Production and Shipping

German manufacturer of bathroom and kitchen fittings Hansgrohe has implemented UPM Raflatac’s inlays into its RFID-assisted assembly processes. Hansgrohe uses RFID-enabled kanban (signal) cards to track the flow of containers between its two production sites. The company now enjoys several benefits, including accelerated goods receipt and the certainty of having all the required components readily available for assembly.

Hansgrohe transports components, such as parts for shower and sink faucets, in containers from its Schiltach factory to a production facility in Offenburg. A barcoded kanban card with an embedded RFID inlay is attached inside the sleeves of all shipping containers as they leave the factory. The kanban cards carry data for each component included in the containers.

The containers are then shipped to Offenburg, where assembly takes place. When assembly is complete, personnel pull the kanban cards from the containers and place their collection of kanbans into an RFID reader. The reader identifies each card by its unique ID number, and gathers data concerning the components used into a back-end system.

A solution developed by noFilis collects the data and transfers it to Hansgrohe’s enterprise resource planning system. This way, real time data for used and assembled components is gathered effortlessly into a single database. As a result, Hansgrohe receives accurate information concerning the parts that need to be included in the next day’s delivery from factory to production.

The RFID solution also means that it is no longer necessary to go through each card’s barcode numbers manually. With the time this saves, each member of the assembly personnel is now able to allocate an additional hour each day into more efficient tasks.

At present, Hansgrohe uses some 200-500 kanban cards with UPM Raflatac’s RFID inlays every day. “Special attention has been paid to our Web inlay’s ability to provide high read rates and durability in challenging environments,” says Mikko Nikkanen, Business Development Director, UPM Raflatac, RFID. To date, Hansgrohe have not had a single RFID tag damaged on their kanban cards.

Hansgrohe is an excellent example of a company that has successfully adopted an RFID solution without having to change its operations. Encouraged by the experience, Hansgrohe report that they are considering the use of RFID technology to further increase the automation and transparency of their logistic processes.

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