Wemmel, 21 June 2016 – Mazda Motor Logistics Europe is Mazda’s European distribution centre for spare parts. The parts arrive from Japan and are dispatched from the warehouse in Willebroek to Mazda dealers all over Europe. The company has implemented an RFID solution from PHI DATA® for recording and tracking of cages and crates, its ‘returnable assets’, which are used to transport the spare parts.
Every day, the employees at Mazda Motor Logistics Europe empty the metal cages that arrive in the warehouse, and store the spare parts. The empty cages are shipped back to the Far East. The parts leave the warehouse on their way to various European dealers, also in cages or smaller crates. These cages and crates have to be sent back to Mazda Motor Logistics Europe. However, some crates are not returned, and some of them are damaged. Until recently, Mazda Motor Logistics Europe used barcodes and scanners to keep track of the incoming and outgoing cages and crates. This required employees of Mazda Motor Logistics Europe to scan and record every incoming or outgoing cage or crate manually. It was a time-consuming activity which was error-prone due to the human element.
This challenging RFID project is being realised in cooperation with Mojix. The MOJIX STAR system and ViZix have been deployed to track transitions of tagged assets through 17 dock doors, inbound and outbound.
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So Mazda Motor Logistics Europe was looking for a solution which reduced the number of manual operations and recording errors, and would speed up the recording and tracking of the cages and crates. The company opted for a solution provided by PHI DATA®: a system of RFID tags and labels, judiciously placed portals and antennae, and a custom software for the connection with the existing WMS system. PHI DATA® equipped all incoming and outgoing cages and smaller crates with an RFID tag or label. The outgoing cages also received a printed ‘shipping label’. These labels contain all the information about the products that are contained in the cages.
The products are recorded immediately via their RFID tags and labels as they pass portals with antennae placed strategically at the ‘dock doors’. The employees then set the cages to ‘IN’ within the WMS system. The unique asset numbers ensure that the warehouse staff know exactly which cages are concerned. In this way, the Mazda Motor Logistics Europe warehouse team have a clear picture of the cages that are located in the warehouse. The same method is used for the outgoing cages of spare parts: they pass the portals, the antennae record the labels and the tags, the cages are set to ‘OUT’ and the warehouse staff of Mazda Motor Logistics Europe know immediately which cages have been shipped to which dealers. This means that the employees have a clear picture of which dealers have to return which empty crates, and how long the cages are out on the road.
“Because we were dealing with incoming and outgoing products within the same warehouse, this was quite a complex exercise”, says Charlotte Peeters, Engineer at Mazda Motor Logistics Europe. “Together with PHI DATA®, we looked for the right tags and labels, and the right place to attach them to the cages and crates. Finding the precise location for installing the antennae and the right frequency was no easy task either. After the tests, we achieved a 100% ‘read rate’ there were no longer any blind spots.”
The system has been operational for a few weeks. “The new way of working represents considerable progress. The loaders and unloaders have saved a lot of time because scanning is no longer required, and the number of human errors has been minimized. Since we have implemented the RFID solution, the tracking of the cages and the crates has been greatly simplified. Another advantages is the fact that now, you can see in real time if a product actually has physically left the warehouse, and has not just been shipped to the dealers on paper.”
“We are extremely satisfied about our collaboration with PHI DATA®“, says Charlotte Peeters. “They have the technical know-how and the experience of this kind of RFID project. Added to the fact that they were able to offer us a fully integrated solution; a total package of hardware and software. PHI DATA® also contributes ideas as we extend the process. We are looking forward to other RFID applications to reduce manual scanning throughout the warehouse. That way, we will be able to track and trace the parts themselves using this solution, not just the cages and crates.
Solution(s): RTI Management