The Japanese manufacturer has deployed thousands of Xerafy Metal Skin RFID tags at its Oita Works facility to create visibility in its WIP Management.
Xerafy, the global leader in automated passive UHF RFID data capture in harsh environments, has announced that Japan’s Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding(MES), a global engineering company that specializes in marine vessels, energy systems, and infrastructure, is implementing Xerafy’s Mercury Metal Skin RFID labels at its MES Oita Works facility for its work-in-process (WIP) management.
The MES Oita Works facility produces material handling equipment, including container cranes, gantry cranes, overhead cranes, jib cranes, ship’s cranes, and other machines. These cranes include tens of thousands of parts, many of which are produced at vendor factories.
As ports around the world invest and expand their facilities, demand for material handling equipment has increased. This surge in orders for MES’ cranes has put further pressure on the company to improve production efficiency. In the past, it has been challenging for MES Oita Works to manage the large number of metal components delivered to the facility daily from those vendors. The parts had to be sorted according to job number by manually referencing an order sheet, engineering drawings, and other documents.
“A big crane typically consists of as many as 55,000 components, from small to large,” says Mr. Sotome, a manager of the Manufacturing Dept. of MES Oita Works. “We experienced difficulties managing the large number of metal components from different vendors and manually sorting and tracking those parts throughout the production process.”
Xerafy began working with MES Oita Works in June 2016. MES selected Xerafy’s Mercury Metal Skinlabels because of its high performance and durability in outdoor conditions to track components, enabling end-to-end tracking using RFID readers at the Oita Works facility. The tags are pre-associated with the order data, printed using RFID printers, and then supplied to the vendors when the orders are placed.
The Mercury Metal Skin UHF RFID labels work on both metallic and non-metallic surfaces, and are flexible enough to be printed on standard RFID printers to allow visual information required at some processes where data access may not be available. They provide a read range on metal of up to 13 feet (4m), and include 128-bit user memory.
The vendors now pre-tag the parts and components prior to delivery to Oita Works. Each vendor receives a new order sheet and corresponding RFID labels when they deliver the completed components to the facility.
The RFID solution has saved time during production and improved inventory management accuracy. Before the RFID system was deployed, workers at each production site had to go the stockyard to determine if the components they needed had been delivered and to receive if available. This wasted valuable time during production.
Using RFID, the time required for acceptance of those components from the vendors has been reduced, so staff working in the receiving area can provide more timely delivery of components to each production site by checking the progress of production.
“MES is always looking for ways to improve productivity and streamline processes” said Mr. Sotome of MES. “Timely delivery service to production sites requires integration with real-time production data. The system, which started out as a way to simply improve the efficiency of components acceptance, is now showing us how the Oita Works can effectively leverage the Internet of Things.”
“The MES project further demonstrates the superiority of our RFID technology when it comes to Industrial IoT, thanks to its ability to perform in the harshest environments. Xerafy’s Mercury Metal Skin helps MES realize real time traceability of workpieces processed at Oita Works, leading to an extension of the system to other MES sites.” said Dennis Khoo, CEO and founder of Xerafy. “We look forward to working closely with MES and supporting their digital transformation across the world.”