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St Helens-based NGF Europe has introduced an RFID system into its supply chain to ensure that deliveries are right first time, every time.

The company produces specialist glass cord products for the building, automotive and information electronics industries. Peter Lai, manufacturing development technician, says: “NGF’s main business driver throughout this project was to ensure 100 per cent accuracy in everything we ship to our customers.”

One of the main challenges that faced NGF was incorrect labelling. When the bobbins containing the manufactured glass cord were wrapped, normal barcodes were rendered unreadable, resulting in incorrectly labelled products. When incorrect products were put into cam belts and cars for example, costs as a result were enormous. Lai continues, “RFID technology has allowed us to retain an accurate vision of our product after its protective wrapping has been applied ensuring that we deliver the right item, first time, every time.”

NGF had also been struggling with poor read rates. In the past, poor read rates have been estimated to cost NGF more than £25,000, a cost that has been eliminated since the implementation of RFID. As more of NGF’s customers move over to RFID, NGF expects to make further savings. The removal of the second serial number barcode, leaving only the RFID tag,
will cut costs by a further £18,500 a year.

To support the new system NGF had to source new labels, printers and scanning systems. It worked with Inotec to produce a label capable of storing more data than ever before. For scanning NGF chose the Atlanta 8000 Series by Belgravium. The Atlanta provided both barcode and RFID scanning within the same device.

After two years’ development, NGF implemented the RFID system in its warehouse operation. The system, designed by Peter Lai, Stephen Barriball and Bob Tinsley of NGF Europe completed its integration in December 2006. The technology has been incorporated into various processes throughout the manufacture of NGF Europe core glass cord product, including general warehousing and packing areas.

NGF plans to use the system to give customers more detailed data. Plans to write detailed specifications onto the RFID tag would enable the bobbins to travel with their own test certification, further reducing downtime and critical errors.

It also has plans to integrate the scanning system into the ERP system enabling a real-time stock system.

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