In the right place: RFID solution for manned forklift trucks and pallet handling
Where exactly does this pallet need to go? A question often asked by all drivers of forklift trucks during their daily work. An RFID solution from Coppernic and SICK in France now always provides the right answer for the forklift driver. This greatly simplifies pallet handling for the global market leader in glass packaging: greater productivity, higher quality, and easier work for the forklift driver.
The French company Coppernic is a manufacturer and integrator of professional, mobile solutions for the inspection, tracking and safety of goods and people. Coppernic services several large business fields such as public transport, secure identification, access protection and also delivers important added value for large industrial tracking related projects. Since the requirements of its customers vary greatly, all solutions are individually tailored to their needs.
One of the company's customers is a global market leader in glass manufacturing, which has been placing its trust in Coppernic since 2010 as part of an important project to reorganize the handling and tracking of pallets at its manufacturing location. The previous solution was a manual process with pen and paper that was unreliable and caused many problems. Coppernic then implemented a complete traceability solution based on UHF RFID technology, which ensures that the right pallet is always delivered to the right customer.
The advantages of this technology are its reliability, stability, and resistance to extreme ambient conditions. Depending on the category, the RFID technology supports multiple reading, writing, and also saving of information.
Mobile solution and real time data processing
The biggest advantage of this solution lies in its mobility, because in contrast to the traditional RFID product tracking portals the complete equipment is mounted on the forklift truck. Data processing occurs in real time, as soon as the operator is at the wheel. Flexibility, agility, real time communication, and a clear optimization of the processes. “You might think that RFID is really simple to implement. The most important thing, however, is to analyze the customer’s processes in his line of business in order to offer a pragmatic solution,” says Fabien Barry, Integration Engineer and Project Manager at Coppernic.
How exactly does the RFID solution work?
Each pallet carries an RFID tag with the key information: contents, reference, recipient, etc. Depending on its load capacity, the forklift truck is equipped with up to four antennas that are connected to an RFID reader, as well as a tablet that delivers the required information to the forklift driver. When loading a pallet, the tag is read with the help of the RFID solution installed on the forklift. Thanks to a direct connection to the company's information system, the operator is immediately provided with details about what needs to be done with this pallet. He can then either bring it to another storage location or to the order preparation area. Inventory management is performed in real time. The advantages are many and varied: greater productivity, a higher quality overall, and it makes the work of the forklift driver easier.
Need for a new partner
In 2017, Coppernic had to find a new supplier for the RFID equipment. The old supplier had discontinued production of the RFID system that Coppernic was using for its forklifts. This presented the company with difficulties because it was essential for it to maintain the same level of ruggedness and reliability of the installed solution. Ruggedness and compatibility with the systems already implemented by Coppernic were important criteria in selecting a new partner. Emmanuel Renaud from SICK in France suggested to Fabien Barry at Coppernic that he consider an RFID solution from SICK. An RFU63x read/write device was then tested and subjected to a six-month-long benchmarking analysis. SICK was already well known to Coppernic and the end customer in other divisions for its sensor technology and enjoyed an excellent reputation. This was important at the time when it was necessary to establish trust for this critical application. “If it wasn't for the good reputation of SICK, the end customer would not have considered the solution,” explains Fabien Barry.
The RFU63x – the right RFID read/write device for the task
The RFU63x test was a big success. The device was then validated for use on-site. The device has 4 connections for external antennas that are mounted on the boom of the forklift truck according to the application. 20 forklift trucks are currently in operation and a further 20 have been ordered. The end customer is fully satisfied. For Coppernic, it was clearly the collaboration with SICK that had made the difference: material availability, easy qualification, problem-free commissioning. The end customer had demanded a lot from Coppernic in its search for an exceptionally competitive solution – and SICK always had an open ear for customer needs, so in the end a solution that suited everyone perfectly was implemented.
The most important questions about RFID easily answered, many application examples and training offers.