Radio identification speeds up window making
Lean manufacturing is about to get leaner with radio frequency identification. Officials from GED Integrated Solutions of Twinsburg, Ohio, now enter the final testing stages of adding RFID to its Glass-On-Demand scheduling system that calculates the exchange of insulating glass units from the IG production department to the glazing lines, says Byron C. Clayton, president of the company’s NxWare software division.
He does not know of any other companies using RFID in IG manufacturing, but suspects some use it in shipping and packaging, Clayton says.
Manufacturers used to make enough IG units to be a day ahead of their manufacturing, but in lean manufacturing, they make IG units as needed, Clayton says. “In doing this, the buffer gets smaller and smaller between when the [IG units] are made and when the glazing lines need them.”
With RFID integration, electronic sensors track carts of IG units from IG manufacturing to the glazing line where they are assembled into windows. Plants generally have between eight and 20 glazing lines, and managers can look to a graphic display to see how many carts of IG units each line has at any given time.
“When [the number of carts] gets to certain level, the system alerts a supervisor that they need more glass at that line,” Clayton explains. “What it does is give you instantaneous communication: what glass you need to make for which line and when.”
Without electronic tracking, plants rely on manual communication; either a manager physically walking by each line to check progress, or employees sending paperwork between glazing and IG lines, Clayton says. “A line would get close to running out of glass and someone would run to IG, but typically that’s too late. You end up not having enough glass and the process slows down,” he says.
RFID tracking works through several scan zones throughout the manufacturing floor, including one at the exit of the IG department and one at the glazing line. Electronic sensors read coded tags on each cart when an operator pushes it through a zone, eliminating the need for hand-held scanning devices, he says.
GED is beta testing Glass-On-Demand with RFID at a customer location. Clayton estimates the system will be available in the fourth quarter.
RFID has been in existence since the 1960s and is used in all industries as a unique identification system to store and remotely retrieve data.