Facil: RFID for smart replenishment systems
Facil is a supplier of fasteners, mainly for the automotive industry. The company in Genk offers Full Service Provider services which embrace all aspects of fastening in the industries that they serve. For the development of a new generation of smart replenishment systems, Facil engaged Aucxis to steer the RFID component in the right direction.
Selection and fine-tuning of RFID technology
Aucxis assisted Facil in the development of 2 innovative products: the Facil Cart and the Facil Box.
The Facil Cart is a distribution cart which is used to replenish the racks on the assembly line. By means of RFID antennas on the cart and RFID tags on the boxes, the Facil Cart knows which parts and badge numbers are transported. Thanks to passive RFID tags on the racks in the assembly line, the cart knows its exact location. With Pick To Light, the operator is assisted in augmented reality in order to deliver the right box to the right place. It also informs the operator when an error has occurred. In this way, the operator can correct the error and terminate his procedure. When a box is delivered to the right place in the rack, the cart will send a shipping confirmation. When an empty box is put on the cart, a pick order is generated for that part number of that point of fit. This solution creates a full traceability of all boxes and batches in the assembly plant, combined with accurate stock information.
For the Facil Cart solution, Aucxis selected the most appropriate RFID antennas with corresponding reader and we meticulously adjusted the RFID system so that the RFID tags are infallibly read by the delivery cart.
The right RFID tag and its position
Facil also launched a reusable box: the Facil Box. When full, the boxes can be stacked crosswise, which makes the stacks extremely strong and stable. When empty, they nest perfectly, reducing the volume by 70% compared to the stacked boxes. RFID tags are provided on the handgrips on both sides of the box.
The Facil Box is used in the Facil Cart and can be read by the different stakeholders throughout the entire logistic chain. The technology applied is based on the GS1 standards and the boxes are equipped with both RFID and a 1D and 2D barcode.
Aucxis tested in its anechoic chamber which RFID tag was the most appropriate tag for Facil’s application, and also determined the ideal position of the tag on the box for a perfect reading out. Boxes filled with metal parts prove to be an enormous challenge within an RFID project, as metal can block the radiation field of the tags. Years of experience and special knowhow are therefore essential for the success of a project of this level of difficulty.
A continued collaboration
Facil introduces the SmartRack solution together with the Facil Box and has already aroused various parties’ interest. Aucxis will further support Facil during the rollout to their customers.