Optimizing Production With RFID


How Stanley Black & Decker used a real-time location system from AeroScout and Cisco’s wireless and Ethernet networks to optimize a manufacturing plant.

Name of Organization: Stanley Black & Decker

Industry: Manufacturing

 Use cases: Production optimization, workforce management

 Location: New Britain, CT, USA

Business Opportunity or Challenge Encountered:

Real-time manufacturing enables managers and employees to see the status of production lines, where potential bottlenecks may be forming, and where workloads can be shifted. The impact on productivity can be enormous.

Stanley Black & Decker Inc., a major manufacturer of hand tools, power tools, electronic security and monitoring systems, as well as industrial equipment, sought to achieve greater real-time transparency at one of its largest tool manufacturing plants in Reynosa, Mexico, which serves the North American market. Opened in 2005, the Reynosa plant primarily manufactures dozens of products, such as jigsaws, planers, cordless drills, floodlights and screwdrivers for the DeWALT brand, as well as lawnmowers for the Black & Decker brand.

Considerable resources were at stake. With 40 multi-product manufacturing lines and thousands of employees, the plant produces millions of power tools each year. To better integrate technology solutions into business operations, the Stanley Black & Decker team relies on line-of-business, operations, and IT experts to determine which issues are the most pressing, how to approach these fixes and improvements, and what approaches are best suited for root cause remediation. As part of its continuous improvement strategy, Stanley Black & Decker sought to give all the plant managers an equal seat at the table to drive priorities. This enhanced decision-making power required greater transparency and visibility into what was happening moment-to-moment on the production lines.

How This Business Opportunity or Challenge Was Met:

To achieve real-time visibility, Stanley Black & Decker implemented the AeroScout Real-Time Location System (RTLS) across its Reynosa production line, in conjunction with Cisco’s Wi-Fi infrastructure and plant-wide Ethernet. The RTLS includes small Wi-Fi RFID tags that attach to virtually any material and provide real-time location and status to assembly workers, shift supervisors, and plant managers.

The company was able to use Cisco access points to offer mobile access to production line information through plant floor managers’ tablets and smartphones. The Reynosa plant deployed visual and executable dashboards to keep production floor managers notified instantly to ensure smooth production operations.

The RTLS tags, which connect throughout five inventory lines, track production as it happens. This means that floor managers are constantly aware of each line’s output, whether production needs to speed or slow to meet daily targets, and how quickly employees are completing their respective stages of production. With increased visibility across operations, managers looked to better understand how to remove obstacles preventing the plant from achieving greater efficiency.

Measurable/Quantifiable and “Soft” Benefits from This Initiative:

The RTLS provided a 24 percent increase of overall equipment effectiveness, Stanley Black & Decker reports. The implementation also enabled faster decision making because of immediate notifications of any issues. “Any bottlenecks in material flow immediately get identified and addressed,” according to Mike Amaya, plant manager at Reynosa Operations.

Greater visibility into labor hours has delivered a better understanding of how employees, the company’s greatest asset, are being utilized. Employees are also empowered to notify supervisors of product quality problems, and managers also have additional visibility to immediately react to line issues. The company also saw labor utilization improvements from 80 percent to 92 percent, as well as an improvement in labor ergonomics. The production line layout could be redesigned to reduce excess of motion and repetitive movements, as well as reducing training requirements.

With this real-time information flow, Stanley Black & Decker’s Reynosa plant can keep its materials and components inventory as low as possible and consequently lower the costs associated with housing and managing that inventory. Detailed information and visibility around inventory also means the company can provide more accurate delivery schedules. Customers also have real-time access to the status and location of inventory and products.

(Source: Cisco)

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