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Manufacturing: The Race for Productivity

There’s a great global race going on. It’s all about who can produce the most in the least amount of time. No business shows any signs of slowing down; in fact, businesses are speeding up across the board. Efficiency, productivity, and cost-effectiveness are held to a higher standard each day, as the manufacturing industry approaches seamless efficiency, pushing perfection.
Real-Time Asset Tracking in Manufacturing
Manufacturing, in many industries, may require some advanced technology to manufacture a product, even if the product is of low value. Capital investments in machines and equipment, just like investments in personnel (every employee is an investment the company makes) must be managed and tracked, just like a new employee must be monitored for success on the job.

Some of these assets and investments are far too valuable to leave unaccounted. Using an asset tracking RFID system in manufacturing not only provides automatic location tracking services, but it allows the business to easily manage and assess the condition of assets, being provided with live data services from RFID.

In the instance of a car manufacturer using asset tracking, not only would RFID tags be useful on each of the cars (tracking their completion, location in the assembly line, and future shipping) but RFID tags can be placed on all vital assembly equipment. For example, the “robots” used by manufacturers like BMW tighten vital bolts to hold the automobile together. These robots are valuable assets to the company and are viable candidates for RFID tags.
Asset Life Cycle and Depreciation
With each fixed asset or asset with a lifespan of greater than one year, the company makes an investment and must maintain the condition of the asset, optimally using RFID tracking to compile data to oversee the asset lifecycle. This will allow for the company to generally predict when an asset must be replaced, rather than being bombarded with problems as the assets depreciate, and eventually lose functionality.

There is no magic number that determines the lifespan of an asset, but with most technological assets in the RFID industry, the lifespan is typically 5-10 years. The RFID tags themselves are virtually infallible: they can last a lifetime. The readers, however, will require replacement over time.

Assets tagged by RFIDs can have their entire history recorded, allowing the employee to view when it was bought, any maintenance that has occurred on it, recent checkpoints, and more. The life cycle of any asset is uncertain, but a simple serial number provides a complete RFID history and allows for a more educated guess as to the life of an asset.
Continuity Planning
The term continuity planning, put simply, is planning for the continued efficiency and success of a business. A successful business, however, must display accuracy and proficiency to avoid errors and maintain profitability. Prevention and recovery of internal and external threats, an output of continuity planning, can be done through the use of RFID technology. The real-time data provided by every tag, after analysis, can highlight problems with efficiency and help prevent them in the future.
Maintenance and Calibration (Maximo SAP)
Asset management programs like SAP Mobile for Maximo use RFID technology to help the maintenance and calibration of important assets. This does not specifically help the maintenance and calibration of an asset, which would require technical expertise, but rather determines when maintenance may be required. A worker can then read live calibration measurements of a piece of equipment, making it easier to judge when to schedule maintenance. With RFID, an employee can collect and manage data, and associate that data with one specific asset, providing a constant understanding of the company standpoint.

Asset Utilization

RFID can help you analyze how often and how efficiently assets are being used so to ensure that the company utilizes them effectively. Hospital staff at times can horde equipment as it gets mixed up in different shifts. Due to these mix-ups, specific shifts began hoarding equipment for themselves. The implementation of RFID eliminates this issue, allowing for the immediate location of any asset or piece of equipment. A defibrillator (or any piece of equipment, for that matter) can be found at a moment’s notice, adding to the ease of every-day work at the hospital, and possibly saving a life.

The variety of uses for RFID ultimately contributes to the general productivity of the company. Be it through minimizing error, optimizing recovery, or predicting asset failure, productivity increases when a company implements RFID. The fact is, asset management technology is the catalyst to efficient business, and in today’s turbulent economy, the race is on.