- Remote inventory visibility
- Automatic replenishment order generation
- Spotlight Server 3.0.2, Windows Svr 2012, ASP.NET, HTML5/Typescript, Angular Agility, Microsoft SQL Server
- Kiosks implemented using an all-in-one touch screen Windows PC
- 13.56 MHZ RFID readers and tags
S3Edge SERVICES PROVIDED
- Specification, design, implementation and deployment services
- Annual support
Endries International distributes fasteners to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Today Endries manages over 500,000 SKU’s that are provided to customers of varying size from small privately held shops to multi-site manufacturers worldwide.
Each Endries’ customer has between 50 and 5,000+ parts bins depending on their size. The parts bins can be in a single location or multiple locations in the customer’s manufacturing facility. Smaller customers may have one location where all parts bins are located whereas larger customers may have parts bins located at each of the customer’s work cells and are specific to the item being manufactured at that cell.
Customers consume parts from one bin at a time until the bin is empty at which time it is placed in a collection receptacle and products continue to be pulled from additional bins. As part of Endries Vendor Managed Inventory product offering, Endries staff takes full responsibility for replenishing the empty parts bins when needed and ensuring the customer’s parts needs are always met.
The focus of the RFID-enabled bin tracking system initiative was to improve the timeliness and efficiency by which Endries can respond to the parts replenishment needs of their customers. S3Edge was the development partner responsible for the specification, design, implementation and testing of the resulting system. S3Edge’s Spotlight software was customized and deployed with a network of RFID kiosks to address Endries’ business needs.
The benefits of the system can be grouped into the following major categories:
- Labor savings – Endries field staff no longer need to physically take inventory of the parts bins at stock locations and manually create replenishment orders when bins are emptied.
- Improved replenishment response times – replenishment orders are now created in real time as soon as a parts bin becomes empty rather than being delayed until the next visit of the Endries field staff.
- Reduction of expedited shipments – having real-time inventory visibility significantly reduces the chance a customer will run out of a part which requires a labor intensive and expensive expedited shipment processing.
- Reduction in the inventory and floor space required – the quantity of parts inventoried and the associated manufacturing floor space can be reduced due to the increased accuracy and reduced cycle times for replenishment order processing.
- Full part-lot trace ability– in the rare event a part-lot is recalled, that system immediately identifies the specific bins with parts from the effected lots.
- Competitive differentiation – real-time inventory visibility with automatic replenishment order creation provides competitive differentiation for the vendor managed inventory solution offering.
- Enables new business – the needs of smaller companies in more remote locations can now to be serviced due to the elimination of the need for field reps to manually monitor the inventory at all locations.
An empty bin collection kiosk was developed and installed near the parts stock locations at each customer. Each kiosk includes:
- A network attached all-in-one touch screen Windows PC
- A high frequency (13.56 MHZ) RFID reader and antenna
- A USB bar code scanner (used to RFID-tag new bins and when replenishing lot-tracked bins)
- An enclosure with an empty bin receptacle
Two high frequency RFID tags (13.56 MHZ) and a bar code label are attached to each bin that uniquely identify the bin and the part number that is to be stored in the bin. The RFID tags are attached at 90 degree angles to each other to ensure 100% tag reads independent of the bin’s orientation when placed in the empty bin cute. The read range of the reader is tuned to remain just inside the bin chute to ensure tags are not read for bins outside the empty bin chute.
A minimum of two bins are used for each part number. Customers pull parts from one bin until it is empty at which time they simply drop it into the empty bin chute and continue pulling parts from the remaining bins (see the YouTube video on the left). When a bin is placed into the chute, the RFID tags are read and the kiosk automatically generate and send a replenishment order for the associated part to Endries’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Empty bins are refilled and placed back on the shelves when the replenishment order is delivered and the cycle repeats.
The empty bin kiosks are connected to the central Spotlight server at Endries headquarters over the Internet. Spotlight receives and processes empty bin reports from the kiosks, exchanges information with Endries enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to generate replenishment orders, and provides central management and administration services for all kiosks. A set of web-based dashboards are provided for Endries staff to login to the Spotlight server and operationally run and administer the system.
Bin replenishment workflows are also provided that track the “lot numbers” of parts contained in each bin in real time to facilitate directed recalls of parts when needed. Customer’s may also initiate service requests from the kiosks which causes a email notification to be sent to the appropriate customer service representative. Customer specific inventory reports can also be viewed on the kiosks.