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RFID asset tracking

First Electronics Corporation (FEC) specializes in the manufacture of over-molded, extra-flexible, multi-conductor, fully EMI-shielded cable assemblies, harnesses and electro-mechanical assemblies, custom-built for aerospace/defense applications and harsh environments.

The company faced a challenge with visibility in its production line. Jobs were being tracked manually, and once a job went into the production line and through the 15 process areas, there was little to no visibility in regards to its location and status. This created problems for management and the customer support team.

Connecting the items that flow through the production line with a digital dashboard showing jobs in stages of production is a critical step in developing a modern manufacturing process. This real-time data about products and materials on the manufacturing floor enables informed business decisions.

FEC's manual system was unable to meet customer expectations of frequent updates during the production cycle. The company recognized the need for a modern asset management solution that could provide a high level of accuracy and visibility. As capturing barcodes at each station in the production process would be too inefficient, automated RFID asset tracking was the way forward.

First Electronics chose the A2B Tracking RFID Asset Management solution to provide visibility into its manufacturing process. A2B Tracking implemented a solution that uses Zebra RFD8500 handheld RFID readers coupled with Android smartphones. The mobile RFID readers allow users to scan the entire 50,000ft2 facility in 20 minutes, to capture all items and update the A2B Tracking platform with locations and time stamps.

The Pro-Locate feature uses mobile RFID readers and smartphones to locate a single product on the factory floor
The Pro-Locate feature uses mobile RFID readers and smartphones to locate a single product on the factory floor

The A2B Tracking solution also included fixed RFID gateway readers from Impinj (xSpan) to automatically monitor inventory and track the movement of items. The fixed gateway readers were strategically placed in the facility to provide visibility when items were moving in and out of key production areas.

The cloud-hosted A2B Tracking RFID platform instantly updates asset and location data as it is captured. The last known location of each item is recorded in the database and added to the asset history, providing an audit history of all transactions of the item. The secure, cloud-based tracking engine is centralized and can be accessed by users from anywhere.

The A2B Tracking Pro-Locate functionality helps employees to find specific assets, using the RFD8500 mobile reader and the A2B RFID Tracker smartphone app. Pro-Locate hones in on the specific RFID tag, searching for the unique RF frequency and ignoring all of the others. As the employee walks, the app provides visual and audible feedback to indicate a stronger signal and closer proximity.