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Continental opts for location and optimisation of the flow of semi-finished products through RTLS

Optimization of semi-finished products flow allows Continental Sarreguemines to boost production

With an annual production of more than 10.5 million tires in 2012, the site Sarreguemines in France plays a central role in the strategy of the Ger-man tire manufacturer Continental. With the help of PHI DATA, Continental has undertaken an extensive process automation and improvement of inventory management on its French site. Thanks to the accurate geolocation of production containers, real-time planning and better internal transport logistics, Continental Sarreguemines managed in a little over a year to significantly increase the availability of its semi-finished products. On the site of Sarreguemines, tire manufacturing requires a well-oiled internal logistics. To ensure optimum quality, rubber must be processed in a specific timeframe. Therefore, it must be transported on large carts to specialized machines placed all around the plant. Until recently, the carts were only equipped with a num-ber, causing loss of carts, material and time.

“We had been looking to implement a tracking solution for some time”, says Christian Matejicek, Head of the IT-department of Continental France SNC. “After contacting a lot of suppliers, we finally selected the AeroScout technology which has the quality that it is easy to integrate with existing Wi-Fi networks, avoiding new investments in a parallel network. However, several environmental factors made this a more complex project. The Continental plant in Sarreguemines includes many neighbouring buildings that were expanded progressively. As there are many machines and thus a lot of metal, the installation of a RTLS system was not obvious and required the assistance of a partner that is both experienced and flexible in its approach. PHI DATA proved to be the best choice for us.”

Specifically, PHI DATA deployed in several phases the geolocation system by integrating it in the existing Cisco Wi-Fi network. Today, already more than 1,900 AeroScout tags were attached to carts used by Continental for the transportation of semi-finished products to different workstations. 90 percent of the semi-finished products are geolocated in real time. Workers responsible for the internal transport can, using their onboard computer, view on a map where a product should be brought or retrieved. This way Continental ensures that the right cart reaches the right machine faster, while avoiding errors and respecting the timeframe to process the rubber. Workers responsible for planning have a direct view on the stocks and know precisely what semi-finished products are available. During the first phase of deployment, 500 carts were equipped with AeroScout tags and the accuracy of the system was evaluated in a part of the plant. Once everything was functioning optimally, Continental expanded the Cisco wireless network to other parts of the site and 700 additional carts were equipped with tags. Several phases followed and, ultimately, some 2,000 tags

The complementarity between PHI DATA and AeroScout was essential to the success of this project. PHI DATA has extensive knowledge of AeroScout solutions as well as the requirements and demands of a production site such as ours. In the end, this system is appreciated by both our workers and our management, and has a direct impact on the overall productivity of our plant. It has become a strategic tool which we could not do without.”

Christian Matejicek, Head of the IT-department of Continental France SNC

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