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RFID Technology for WIP (Work-in-Process) Tracking

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Feb 28, 2024
  • RFID
RFID Technology for WIP (Work-in-Process) Tracking

"RFID based work in progress tracking ensures efficient on floor tracking of various assets and operations, ensuring an error-free, smooth operational workflow and timely completion."

Imagine a bustling factory floor where machines hum with activity and workers move swiftly to assemble products. In such environments, keeping track of the work in progress (WIP) can be daunting. Traditional methods of WIP tracking, such as manual data entry or barcode scanning, can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

Then we have RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology, offering a seamless solution to monitor and manage the production flow. With an RFID system, supervisors can effortlessly track the progress of each workpiece in real-time, ensuring timely completion and efficient workflow management. For instance, Automotive giants like Toyota, Ford, and BMW utilize RFID to monitor the movement of vehicle components along the assembly line, ensuring seamless coordination and just-in-time production. Did you know that the invention of QR Code in 1994, Japan, also had something to do with the same wip problem that RFID so efficiently solved for good?

Using RFID technology for WIP tracking, supervisors can improve production processes, improve inventory management, and enhance productivity. The popularity of RFID for WIP tracking is on the rise and so is the demand for RFID itself with global RFID revenue projected to reach $18.68 billion by 2026, driven by increasing adoption across manufacturing, logistics, retail, and healthcare sectors

Let’s see how RFID technology brings visibility on production floor and streamlines the production and work-in-progress in detail:

RFID System for WIP (work-in-process) Tracking

RFID systems consist of RFID tags equipped with tiny chips and antennas, which are attached to each workpiece as it moves through different stages of manufacturing. They contain additional information such as product specifications, manufacturing dates, and batch numbers. These tags emit radio signals operates within the range from LF, 125 kHz to UHF, 860-960 MHz that are picked up by RFID readers stationed strategically throughout the facility. The readers capture the tag's unique identification number and transmit the data to a connected RFID system. 

As mentioned earlier, businesses can improve their inventory management using RFID WIP tracking. One method of tracking inventories during the production process is to use RFID tags or chips/inlays. Companies can simply track where things are at any given time through an RFID chip on each asset as it travels through the supply chain process. These tags help identify when items have been added or removed from the production process. It also helps to reduce the chances of errors in inventory counts and makes it easier for companies to keep accurate records of their products throughout the entire production process.

Implementing RFID technology for WIP tracking

RFID technology for WIP tracking requires careful planning and execution.

1. Assessing requirements: Identify the specific goals and requirements for WIP tracking. Determine the range, accuracy, and frequency of data capture needed for your production process. Consider factors such as the size and complexity of your facility, the number of workpieces to be tracked, and the integration with existing systems.
2. Choosing the right tags: Select RFID tags that are suitable for your application. Consider factors such as the size, durability, and read range of the tags. For harsh environments or high-temperature applications, choose RFID hard tags that are designed to withstand these conditions. It's also important to ensure that the tags are compatible with your chosen RFID readers. So choose UHF RFID tags that are compatible with UHF RFID Readers, which are more popular and provide great efficiency in scanning.
3. Selecting RFID readers: Choose RFID readers that meet your requirements in terms of range, connectivity, and functionality. Consider whether you need UHF fixed readers at specific locations or mobile handheld readers for more flexibility. Ensure that the readers are compatible with the chosen tags and can integrate with your existing software systems.
4. Designing the infrastructure: Determine the optimal placement of RFID readers throughout your production process. Consider factors such as the layout of your facility, the flow of workpieces, and any potential interference or obstructions. Design an infrastructure that ensures reliable and consistent communication between the tags and readers. Use of anti-metal tags in metal intensive environment is advisable as these tags easily overcome the interference caused by metals.
5. Integrating with existing systems: Ensure that your RFID system can seamlessly integrate with your existing manufacturing software and systems. It allows efficient data capture, analysis, and reporting. Consider whether you need any additional software or middleware to facilitate the integration.
6. Training and testing: Train your employees on how to use the RFID system effectively. Conduct thorough testing to ensure that the system is capturing accurate data and providing reliable tracking information. Make any necessary adjustments or fine-tunings to optimize the performance of the RFID system.

Benefits of RFID WIP Tracking for Companies

Employers who use RFID for work-in-progress tracking will reap several benefits: better inventory counts, enhanced traceability across the supply chain, lower labor costs from automated data collection, and better customer service from being able to reply to inquiries about product availability or delivery schedules promptly.

Additionally, employing an RFID system lowers the chance of faulty data input brought on by human error and saves money by eliminating overhead costs connected with manual data entry procedures.
To conclude, fast-paced manufacturing industry, accurate and real-time tracking of work-in-process (WIP) is crucial for optimizing production processes. RFID technology offers a game-changing solution by providing manufacturers with full visibility into their WIP inventory. 

With RFID technology for WIP tracking, manufacturers can benefit from real-time location data, streamlined workflows, and improved order fulfillment. However, the benefits are significant: improved inventory management, enhanced productivity, and optimized production processes.

Frequently Asked Questions on RFID based Work-in-Progress Tracking

Q1) What is RFID technology, and how does it work for WIP tracking?

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology tracks and identifies tags attached to items using electromagnetic fields. For WIP tracking, RFID tags are affixed to workpieces, and RFID readers stationed at various points in the production process detect these tags, providing real-time visibility into the movement and status of work-in-process items.

Q2) What industries commonly use RFID technology for WIP tracking?

RFID is widely used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and food production, where precise tracking of WIP items is critical for efficient manufacturing processes and compliance with industry standards.

Q3) What considerations should be taken into account when selecting RFID hardware and software for WIP tracking?

Factors to consider include read range, tag durability, compatibility with existing infrastructure, scalability, and the ability to integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for seamless data exchange and analysis.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Feb 28, 2024
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