Block On-Metal

December 19, 2013

Wrapping up a new approach to manufacturing and shipping furniture

Furniture manufacturer SC Freda tables track-and-trace issues with RFID technology.

Distribution problems can easily put furniture manufacturers in a bind, as they are costly and time-consuming to fix. And when your sole customer is innovative Swedish home furnishing giant IKEA, you do not want to miss the mark. Could RFID technology help lift SC’s Freda production and shipping processes to a new level?

Moving right along: It’s all in a day’s work for Lithuanian furniture manufacturing company SC Freda which ships around 800 tables, dressers and cabinets to various IKEA’s distribution centers every day, for a total of 10,000 pallets each month. However, the company’s dependence on manual inventory management processes increased the probability of making expensive distribution errors, such as shipping an incorrect quantity of goods to a particular location. By implementing RFID technology, SC Freda sought to improve data accuracy and usability, while enhancing critical production processes.

The new RFID system, designed by systems integrator Autepra, includes ShortDipole™ RFID tags and inlays, RF shields, a CAEN fixed RFID reader placed at the warehouse tagging location, a CAEN A948 fixed portal reader, NordicID PL300 handheld RFID readers, a forklift and trucks equipped with touch-screen computers and software from Proringas to manage RFID data and integrate it into the company’s Pragma ERP system.

RFID tags are applied to shrink-wrapped pallets, then encoded with valuable item data and time and date stamps. When orders are received, the forklift operator picks up tagged pallets, passing through the portal RFID reader before placing goods on the truck. The RFID portal reader, ERP system and computerized forklift communicate seamlessly to validate orders, catching any errors before trucks depart for their destinations. Meanwhile, production workers use handheld RFID readers and the ERP system to perform daily inventory counts, locate items, monitor storage of goods and plan item production. Software alerts notify staff when certain conditions are reached, such as production thresholds for different furniture styles, helping bring a new level of transparency and planning rigor to manufacturing operations.

It’s no stretch to say that RFID technology has helped SC Freda reach a new level of production and shipping excellence. And it’s a load off production managers’ minds that the right loads are reaching their final destinations.

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