20.05.2020 -
Stephanskirchen

RFID Journal LIVE News

eKanban Solutions from Kathrein Solutions

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Kathrein Targets Logistics for Smart Shelf Solution!

In an interview with RFID Journal LIVE, Michael Kaiser Director Partner Management & Product Management at Kathrein Solutions GmbH, talks about the intelligent KanBan solution in the automotive industry.

Several automotive companies have already been using kanban solutions by which containers and returnable transport items (RTIs) are usually recorded manually. Kathrein Solutions has now launched what it calls a fully automated kanban system with a reader and linked shelf antennas so that users can automatically place supply-replenishment orders. The company offers its ARU 2400 Antenna Reader (released in 2019), along with the daisy-chain funtionality of the smart-shelf antennas—with a connection functionality for fast installation—for the manufacturing and logistics environments.

The core application for logistics will center around Kathrein's electronic kanban solution, in use at several automotive manufacturing sites, but the latest version can also be leveraged by logistics and other vertical markets, such as health care. With the system in place, users can daisy-chain as many as 24 of Kathrein's SmartShelf SMSH antennas—in strips of eight, attched to three external antenna connections—on the ARU 2400, in order to enable a total of 25 antennas (one is built into the ARU 2400). The FAKRA automotive-grade antenna connectors are intended to make that installation straightforward for end users or systems intergrators.

The RFID reader system is designed to be mounted on production racks for automative manfaucturing companies. It consists of the ARU 2400 reader and cascaded antenna modules mounted directly to the shelves. Each antenna can identify the tags of containers placed on a corresponding spot on the shelf. The solution is designed for easy retrofits onto existing shelves for the management of supplies, the company explains. In fact, says Michael Kaiser, Kathrein Solutions' partner-management and product-management director, the ability to be retrofitted on shelves was a key request by the assembly plant customers.

The system brings visibility into supply levels via the kanban method. If a box of screws, bolts or other supplies is emptied, that box is removed and the box stored behind it is accessed for supplies. The empty box must then be refilled and returned to the shelf. With RFID tags on each box, and with the ARU 2400 reader and associated shelf antennas deployed, notification as each box is emptied becomes automatic.

Kathrein's CrossTalk software captures data related to each tag read. If a box's RFID tag is being interrogated by the smart-shelf antenna, the system knows that it has not yet been emptied. A worker can remove that box, after which the tag ID will no longer be captured and the CrossTalk software will identify that event. The software can also identify if an empty box is placed on a specific return spot on the shelf, then send an automated replenishment order to the warehouse staff or to suppliers. The solution's Crosstalk Agent feature connects the device to the cloud, where data is managed based on the CrossTalk AppCenter. The software operates not only with passive RFID, but also with barcodes and real-time location system (RTLS) technology.

The CrossTalk system has to fulfill three tasks, the company reports. The main task of CrossTalk Agent is the transmission of workflow data to the enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This happens in real time, with a defined data structure, so that the ERP system recognizes it immediately. Second, CrossTalk Agent connects the device via the cloud to the CrossTalk AppCenter to monitor the function and connectivity of the devices. An error handler reports if the device is not online or cannot deliver the data. The third feature is a visualization option in the CrossTalk App Center to show where the read event occurred.

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