At its essence, a lean manufacturing practice is the continual pursuit of more efficient ways to operate. Ideas are contributed by all involved in any process; they are tested for effectiveness; and the winners become standardized in the workflow. These standardized practices are reduced to their simplest elements and visual cues are placed throughout the plant to optmize integration and efficiency. RFID tracking is a natural tool for supporting the implementation of lean manufacturing practices at precast concrete plants. Here's why.
Concrete tracking is a very effective tool for testing. Every product is serialized with an RFID tag so that information about each can be entered on a tablet and tracked during the manufacturing and yarding processes. Each input is associated with the time it was made and the identity of the person that entered the information. Using this information, the system can measure the time involved for each step and produce benchmark reports against standards and any other performance comparison.
A good product tracking system can be used to identify issues during the manufacturing process and automatically assign tasks for resolution. This eliminates the need to hand-write tags for reminders. For instance, if a post-pour inspection reveals that a structure needs repair, this can be noted on the tablet and it will be included in a repair report. This report can be automatically emailed to the appropriate person the following morning. The report can even include the location of the pieces in need of repair on Google maps using the GPS tracking function in the system.
Probably the most lean-friendly feature, the tablets can be used to guide workers through production processes as they evolve and change in lean practices. The processes are set according to the product being manufactured. The visual cues that are placed throughout the work place can be replaced (in part) with instructions on the tablet. The processes prescribed on the tablet can incorporate decision tree elements too. So, for instance, if a 'Yes' response is entered to a question, the guidance will proceed in one direction. If a 'No' response is provided, it will direct the user in another direction.
The first rule of lean manufacturing is that too much inventory is wasteful. Inventory tracking is the first step toward minimizing inventory balances. Precast and prestressed concrete producers can see real-time reports of their inventory because each piece that is serialized with an RFID tag is entered into the system as inventory. The stage of inventory (work-in-process, finished goods and other customized category the user wants) can be tracked as the product moves through production and into the yard. When it is loaded on the truck for shipment, it is scanned again and removed from the list.
The central premise of precast RFID tracking is greater productivity for the manufacturer and reduced costs of administration. This is very 'lean' in an of itself. However, the elements of the system that make this possible can also serve as great tools for managing the lean manufacturing practice.
Our purpose at Idencia is to offer precast RFID tracking solutions that improve productivity throughout the value chain. Our subscription offering applies to products from the time of manufacture through end-of-life. As a cloud-hosted product tracking system that is seamless between manufacturers, contractors and asset managers, Idencia adds information value to all, eliminates redundancy and saves time. If you would like to learn more, click below.