RFID is the ideal tool to enhance conveyor and material handling systems and has been used in applications ranging from the production of small automotive gaskets, to computer hard drives, to the assembly of refrigerators.
In all cases, error-proofing and the resulting financial and quality improvements were the main factors users considered prior to implementation. Less common, but equally advantageous, is the application of industrial RFID to parts bins and shelves along assembly lines.
As our application report explains, bins equipped with small RFID tags and read/ write heads — these are connected to a suitable controller that interfaces with the plant's ERP system — are mounted to the shelf. As a bin slides down, its data is accessed and verified, making sure that the proper parts are being used at the assembly location.
This type of setup can do even more: Remove an empty bin and a parts order is automatically triggered at the warehouse. This is the underlying principle of the Kanban system. Some users go even a step further by combining the visibility of data afforded by an RFID solution with a pick-to-light system, thus guiding the operators to the bin containing the item needed next. This increases the flexibility of the line by allowing a multitude of slightly variant products to be made, which in turn is good for the bottom line, while enhancing product quality.