Riodan Manufacturing is an industry leader in the field of plastic injection manufacturing. A state of the art companies with values in innovation, excellence and quality. As the company in the forefront of technology and innovation, Riodan has decided to upgrade its existing system to better control its inventory and eventually, increase sales and reduce costs. This would allow them to streamline their processes and thus, serve their customers better.
Manufacturing has many processes, but none is more critical that the receiving of raw materials. It is here where everything begins and can mark the success pr the failure of the entire manufacturing process. Now, it is time to upgrade this process in order to improve efficiency and accuracy of the factory.
In our interconnected world, information technology is key. Many processes can be improved with the installation or upgrade of new and innovative technologies. Here, I will propose a very new technology that is to be the future of the manufacturing industry and other industries as well.
A big undertaking such as this needs the understanding and cooperation of everyone in the manufacturing process and the management team. It is important that they be available for feedback and other insights in order to make the new system work.
A project team is needed to evaluate, test and implement this project. The most important is the team leader. The team leader must be technologically savvy and must understand the manufacturing process in all its aspects. Other team members may include computer technicians, and programmers and other people who are dedicated in making this project work. Since this is a high-tech system, all of these people are required to make the project work.
Other important factors include the suppliers of the hardware and software to be used. They are critical since they will also have a large impact on the success of the project. They are the ones who will install, program, train and maintain these new systems that will be installed in the factory.
In manufacturing, everything begins at the receiving of raw materials. In Riodan Manufacturing, the factory can streamline its entire manufacturing operations through the new process to be done at receiving. I propose that during receiving of raw materials, the factory places an RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to the container of the raw materials.
This RFID tag is encoded with all the information of the raw material including quantity, date received, expiration date, and any other relevant information needed. As the container moves throughout the factory, RFID readers and antennas are placed in strategic locations around the factory. This enables the computer to track the container at real time and reduce the chance of it being misplaced.
Manufacturing a product requires that the quantity of the raw materials used are consistent with all of the same product being manufactured. So as the container moves through the manufacturing phase, the factory can install measuring devices after each phase to calculate the amount of raw materials left. This information is relayed to the computer and updates the information of the container.
With the RFID system in place, it improves efficiency by giving management a real time view of where their raw material is at all times. This system can also automatically generate a report whether the raw material is being maximized or there is wastage. This real time view and inflow of valuable information can help the decision makers in the operations of the factory.
With information comes the power to decide better and faster. This enables the factory to reduce costs with its manufacturing by maximizing the raw materials and improve efficiency throughout the entire process. It means that they can concentrate on improving other aspects of the business like marketing and sales and make the business grow even further.
RFID is a new technology now being more widely recognized as a good solution for manufacturing, retail and other industries. However, it is not a 100% solution to the problem. It can help minimize many problems and really improve efficiency, but it will not be perfect as with all systems. This system also has its own limitations and flaws.
First, I will discuss the RFID system. It composes of an RFID tag, readers and antennas. The tag passes through an antenna which is connected to an RFID reader which is connected to a computer. Each RFID tag has a unique number called EPC or Electronic Product Code. This code is similar to barcode but since an RFID can have a 96 or 128 bit memory, there is an enormous amount of EPC codes available and can allow for individual serialization of the products.
RFID does not need line of sight to communicate; it only needs to go in the range of antenna for it be picked up because it uses radio frequency. It operates on several frequencies which each frequency having their own advantages and disadvantages. This includes presence of metals or liquid near the tag. But since this is plastic, these limitations are limited to the structure and construction of the factory and can be fixed with strategic placements of the RFID reader and antennas. Another benefit of RFID is that is that some tags can be programmable.
Many people question about the memory space needed by the system to store this enormous amount of information. Nowadays, memory is very affordable with a terabyte of space can be bought for as little as $150. The critical thing here is not to store every information you get. Keep the important ones and discard the others which the factory does not need anymore to save on space.
But in order to further compensate for these limitations, I propose installing a redundancy system which is a tried and tested technology. This is installing a barcode system in the process. This barcode would be a backup for the RFID in case something happens. It only costs a little more to include this barcode system into the current proposal and would be beneficial to the factory in the long run.
To design the implementation of the RFID system, one must look at the structure of the factory first. Look at the manufacturing process. These factors must be taken into account when installing the system.
To start, the project team must make a list of requirements on what they need for the hardware and software. They must also start talking with suppliers of both hardware and software to get the prices and level of commitment of cooperation the suppliers will provide. It is very important that all aspects of the system be integrated into one cohesive entity to maximize its capabilities. This will also enable the company to set aside a specific budget and a time frame for the entire project.
Critical hardware needed by the project can include RFID and barcode tag printers and encoders, several RFID readers and antennas, portable RFID with barcode scanners, barcode readers, Wi-Fi routers and hubs, RFID tags and a good computer server. For the software, it must be custom made because no ready-made software are available for this kind of full implementation.
Implementation would be a slow process since this is not something one does haphazardly. New processes and procedures must be created and approved before any hardware installation can be done. These new processes must be accepted by all and must allow for further modifications down the line. Then, the project team must test all the hardware before choosing which supplier to go to. This enables the company to determine which frequency is best for the company. After choosing the hardware can the software be created. Further testing with both the hardware and software must be done to ensure integration.
When all of these initial steps are done, it is time for the initial deployment. A few of the hardware is installed in the receiving area. But first, people must be trained in using the system. Those in the receiving area will be the first one to use this new system. They will be monitored and evaluated. The system will also be monitored and evaluated to see its effect on the process. After determining that the system is good and ready to go, it must be installed in the next processes one after another only after it has been determined that the current process has no more problems with the system.
This method of implementation and trials, evaluations and testing must be done accordingly in order for the factory to have a smooth transition to the new system. If the implementation is done all at once, it would be detrimental to the entire company because change happened so fast the management and the employees would be overwhelmed with everything that has happened. This is a slow process and must be carefully implemented in order to ensure that everyone in the company has the chance and the time to make full use this system and maximize all of its capabilities.
The anticipated cost of the project and time for implementation is as follows. The entire implementation would take about 1&1/2 year to be fully implemented while a budget of roughly $100,000 - $ 200,000 would be needed for the project.
Estimated time for research and discussion – 2 months.
- Creation of project team
- Research of the new technology
- Finding suppliers
- Evaluation of processes and procedures
- Determination of budget
- Approval of management
Estimated time for canvassing of suppliers and testing of equipment – 3 months
- Finding and talking with suppliers from around the world.
- Testing suppliers equipment.
- Making cost-benefit analysis.
- Determining where in the factory equipment should be placed together with the supplier.
Estimated time for working with chosen supplier to implement project – 6 months
- Design the system
- Choose right equipment
- Develop software
- Testing the system before implementation
Estimated time for full implementation – 7 months
- Training of the employees
- Implementation in one division at a time
- Evaluation of the entire system
Estimated budget for the project
1. Computer server - $30,000
2. RFID tags - $10,000
3. RFID readers and antennas - $20,000
4. Portable RFID and barcode scanners - $10,000
5. Barcode stickers -$500
6. RFID and Barcode printer - $2,000
7. Software - $20,000
8. Training - $5,000
9. Others - $5,000
In conclusion, the RFID development of implementation program is a bold new step for Riodan Manufacturing. With this system in place, it can cement the company’s status in the international community. There are enormous benefits available to those who implement technology earlier and RFID is one technology whose potential is endless. Already, there are so many benefits that can be taken with the technology and yet we have not began to scratch the surface of what this can do.
With the implementation of RFID, efficiency and precision would improve in the company. Quality can also be improved. But most importantly, since because the company does not need anymore to worry about their operations, they can focus on other things which can make the company grow.
This technology has limitations, but in a few years, with new technology coming out everyday and with the proper planning, these limitations are minimal at best. It is not very difficult to imagine how good for the management and the stockholders to see that the factory is well run and very automated. And with the benefit of more information from the floor at real time, more precise decisions about operations can be made so reducing cost and increasing profits.
This system may be the future of the world. It will eventually replace the barcode and be the standard. It is good for the company to have an initial grasp of the technology since the company will already have an edge among its competitors. Although the costs is substancial, the benefits in savings and efficiency more than compensates for the expenses. We are living in a world where everything is connected. This technology only strengthens that connection and brings to us the power of being the best.