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Smart Factories are now becoming a priority as manufacturers begin to utilise the Internet of Things (IoT) Technology within their facilities in order to connect people and machinery which has the possibility to generate endless amounts of data throughout their supply chain boosting productivity and visibility.

One of the companies prioritising the Smart Factory is BAE Systems and this article focuses on how they significantly boosted their productivity using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) incorporated with the TwinBin System and SMT Reel Indicators winning them the award of Best Manufacturing RFID Implementation at the 17th annual RFID Journal Live Conference after demonstrating significant savings using the technology

The Story

BAE Systems, a global defence, aerospace and security company had a requirement to find and implement new technologies and new techniques in order to accelerate manufacturing processes to meet ever-growing customer demands.  In order to achieve lean manufacturing goals to increase manufacturing output, BAE Systems sought a solution in which materials could be replenished using a ‘pull’ methodology, based on just in time (JIT) demand, rather than the ‘push’ system in which materials are stocked based on forecasted demand, which was currently in place.

The company had a manual process for managing inventory in place, this process included manual barcode scanning in order to track and replenish inventory across a variety of sites and feeding this information to Procurement, who manually placed orders with relevant suppliers, leading to longer lead times and errors within ordering.

TwinBin RFID with RFID Tag

BAE Systems’ Electronic Warfare Integrated Manufacturing Center in Nashua, New Hampshire contacted Hurst Green Plastics Ltd in order to implement the TwinBin RFID System into their facilities in order to manage materials which are on site.  The TwinBin RFID System needed to be integrated into the Company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems providing an automated, real-time visibility solution, enhancing factory tracking and awareness capabilities within their ramped-up production efforts.

The TwinBin System was installed within the facility alongside RFID Technology providing BAE Systems with the information they required.  The TwinBin System, a two-bin system which contains stock within two chambers (an in-use stock chamber and a reserve stock chamber), can be RFID Compatible, which means once the slider is pulled to access the reserve chamber, the flag pops up, exposing a passive RFID Tag which is then readable by RFID Readers.  The RFID Readers scan the bins once each day to obtain data from any exposed tags to determine which parts require replenishment, orders are then automatically generated every night, and parts arrive at a pre-determined time within the Material Center providing a completely automated process.

Following the successful implementation of the TwinBin System, BAE Systems contacted Hurst Green Plastics Ltd once again with a requirement for inventory control of their SMT Reels. Working with the team at BAE Systems, Managing Director Tommy Sharples and Product Design Engineer Specialist John Whipp worked meticulously to design, create and test the SMT RFID Reel Indicator.  The SMT RFID Reel Indicator works by shielding the passive RFID Tag when the product is full. Once the product is removed, the flag pops up and exposes an RFID Tag which can then be read by RFID Readers, automatically generating orders each night.  The team at BAE Systems successfully trailed the SMT Reel Indicator over a number of months, leading to their first order of 8000 units for the facility in Nashua.

SMT Reel Indicator

The Success

Today, BAE Systems has more than 9,000 individual part numbers that are actively available for automatic replenishment saving approximately 2,400 hours each year which drove them to victory at the 17th annual RFID Journal Live Conference in the category of best RFID Manufacturing Implementation.

 “The BAE Systems’ program was an excellent example of how RFID and the right software can drive real value for companies. It was truly an award-winning project that demonstrated how RFID can translate into quantifiable results for a major enterprise,” said Mark Roberti, founder and editor of RFID Journal.

The conference is the worlds largest RFID Venue with several other international companies vying for the award. A highlight of the conference was the keynote address provided by Diedre (Dee) Schmidt, BAE Systems Operational Excellence Leader who championed the RFID initiative at the facility in Nashua. She discussed the program’s journey in automating the inventory replenishment process – you can see this here.

For more information on The SMT RFID Reel Indicators, click here

For more information on The TwinBin System, click here

For more information on our RFID Solutions, click here

Did you know we are launching TwinBin Live? Incorporating Bluetooth and NFC to create a completely automated real-time 24/7 solution.  To find out more click here


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