16 July 2024, 06:42
By Furniture News Sept 10, 2021

RFID enhances foam company's service

Vitafoam, one of Europe’s leading foam manufacturers, wanted to improve the efficiency of its warehousing and distribution operation, and an RFID system has enabled it to automate its processes, speed up deliveries and improve customer service.

Vitafoam manufactures 600-750 tonnes of foam and cushioning materials every week at its Manchester site. The converted mill complex includes 30,000 sqm of warehousing space where it stores the huge blocks of foam, some weighing as much as a ton, before they are dispatched to customers.

Managing storing and distribution relied on staff using assorted paper notes, and an inkjet printer. The manual, ad hoc system meant that the firm was not as efficient as it could have been in fulfilling orders. Finished materials were sometimes not found in time to fulfil orders, and one-off products that were initially missed often could not be resold. The speed of dispatch was also hampered by having to search for finished products. Vitafoam recognised there was an opportunity to significantly enhance service levels and improve the bottom line.

Vitafoam wanted an RFID system that would automatically identify foam blocks as they progressed from production to the warehouse and distribution. The company was already working with a software firm that provided its financial IT system, and it wanted a solution that would seamlessly integrate with this. It selected CoreRFID as a supplier due to its knowledge, experience and consultative approach.

With the new system, RFID labels are attached to all finished foam blocks, which can be automatically detected by fixed readers or staff using handheld readers at various stages of production and storage. Foam blocks exiting the production area (after curing) or entering or leaving the warehouse facilities can be identified quickly and easily. The information is uploaded directly into the computer system so staff can see the exact location of finished goods and materials within the large warehouses at any time.

Jez Wadd, a project manager who worked closely with CoreRFID on the installation, says the current solution has revolutionised logistics at the firm, increased the speed at which orders can be dispatched, and improved customer service.

Jez and his colleagues point out that the RFID solution had significantly improved the number of deliveries made on time. On Time in Full (OTIF) distribution increased from 97.6% in 2020 to 99.4% in 2021. While the difference is less than +2%, it equates to approximately 30 more deliveries per month leaving on time - a significant improvement.

Richard Harrison, technical sales director at CoreRFID, says: "It’s not unusual to find advanced manufacturing firms that have streamlined processes in many areas of their operations, but are still relying on paper-based systems for tracking valuable items in production, storage or dispatch. Our RFID systems have helped many different types of manufacturers to track materials from production to dispatch. RFID is a versatile and proven technology that delivers an almost immediate return on investment.’

Jez Wadd adds: “CoreRFID’s solution has revolutionised our logistics. The warehouse and delivery team are absolutely made up with the system and it has made life easier for everyone. It has vastly improved the speed at which orders are dispatched and in so doing, customer service.”

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