2019 stands out with new extensions!
The RFID-based automation at the Mazda MLE site in Willebroek has proven a success since 2016: The error rate in incoming and outgoing goods processes was reduced by 50 percent.
The competitive advantages were not the end of the developments at Mazda MLE. Warehouse automation solutions have been tested and some were rolled out in five different sub-areas. The network of RFID antennas and readers, the numbers of which have increased since 2016, provides the basis.
Full transparency on the forklift
With the software developed for Mazda MLE together with Phi Data in 2016 to analyse captured RFID data, it was possible to implement extensions for the integration of forklifts.
Kris Van Vossel reports: “Today we can provide a significantly increased transparency to the forklift drivers directly onboard compared to the beginning of the project. Today, every forklift in operation has a tablet. Information regarding loading and offloading jobs is transferred over the company internal Wi-Fi network.”
Respective transport and returnable numbers are are visualised on the tablet as soon as the cages are loaded.
Tunnel solution for the loading of vans
Despite the RFID-based automation implemented in 2016, items that were loaded onto vans still needed to be registered manually. The process is to be fully automated by employing a RFID tunnel solution in 2019.
“We are working on this solution in cooperation with our technology partner Phidata. So far, on the hardware side, we have not reached the reliability we require for our processes. In our tests, we only achieved a reading rate of 80 to 85 percent. This is due to the metallic surface of many components, liquid-filled batteries, or parts sprinkled with oil," explains Kris Van Voss.
Continuous tracking of 20,000 containers
With the RFID solution for in and outbound processes, there is no more need for the manual capturing of all returnable plastic boxes. In parallel with the automation, the rotation cycles of KLTs are considerably increased.
“Before RFID was deployed, KLTs reached a maximum of three to four cycles until they disappeared from our view. The running coasts to acquire new boxes were therefore respectively high. Since all KLTs are tagged, the number of cycles is increased by a factor of five to ten. Today, the approximately 20,000 containers last 15 to 20 cycles.
Software 2.0 with automated loading confirmation
“The interfaces of the Mazda MLE have been extended since 2016 to directly transfer all data captured and the information generated from it into the TMS system. Automatic loading confirmation was also added,“ explains Kris Van Vossel.
"As soon as a cage is loaded onto a truck, the status in the system is automatically set to 'loaded'. The number of manual entry processes is drastically reduced which strongly reduces the error rate.”
Bulk reading area
The next step for Mazda MLE is an automated large size bearings area with bulk reading functionality.
"Components delivered to the warehouse are to be directly equipped with an RFID tag. On top of that, the automated registration of incoming and outgoing items can also be done with antennas at entry and exit," explains Kris Van Vossel. This also increases the efficiency of item storage.
“We plan to optimise storing and picking with the help of the bulk reading. Since there are only cardboard boxes in use, the solution is realisable with antennas and our software without great effort.”