The radio frequency identification (RFID) implementation at the company’s headquarters in Schiltach, succeeded in two steps, with SAP partner Freudenberg IT responsible for the project.
Product information in real time
RFID-enabled kanban process
Kanban is a system used for controlling production and material flows based on physical material stock. In RFID-enabled kanban processes, all kanban containers or kanban cards are equipped with uniquely identifiable and reusable tags. When an RFID reader scans a container, a preconfigured action is triggered. The RFID data that is read is transmitted to the SAP backend system by SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure, a component of SAP NetWeaver. Depending on the activity, replenishment is triggered or the goods receipt is posted. At the same time, the kanban status is updated to always show the current situation status in the system.
In the first step, Freudenberg IT RFID-enabled an existing kanban process between Hansgrohe’s production site in Schiltach and the logistics center in the nearby town of Offenburg. This involved equipping all the kanban cards circulating between the shop floor and the warehouse with RFID chips. These cards, which contain all the goods data, are placed in each of the kanban containers. At their destination, they are collected and then read in a matter of seconds using a tunnel reader. In just one read operation, the data from hundreds of kanban cards is captured and reported back to the shop floor.
Thanks to complete integration with the SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure, all messages are sent to the SAP backend system in real time. This information can be immediately put to use on the shop floor to trigger production orders or replenishment. The automated process avoids errors caused by manual postings and generally increases the quality of production.
Precise warehouse management
In the second step, Hansgrohe implemented lean, automated warehouse management using RFID. Product pallets are now put away using conveyor belts equipped with readers. These record all the data from RFID chip-tagged goods and send it to the SAP system using radio technology.
“With the integration of RFID technology into our SAP system, our production and logistics planners now receive all the production data in real time – and we didn’t need to remodel our business processes,” says Frank Semling, head of business processes and IT at Hansgrohe.