Executive Briefings

ShelfAware RFID System Brings Visibility to Industrial Components

O-ring Sales & Service, a Kansas City-based distributor of o-rings and specialized components, is offering its industrial manufacturer customers an RFID-based solution to manage their inventory at manufacturing sites.

ShelfAware is designed to capture data about the receipt and consumption of parts, thereby ensuring that products are automatically reordered as needed, while also helping the manufacturer to understand its inventory levels and reduce them to minimally necessary levels. For manufacturers, the company reports, the technology can mean saving labor related to inventory management, as well as eliminating excess supply purchases, while ShelfAware has boosted O-ring's sales as customers see value in the service.

Thus far, two manufacturers have begun using the solution to manage hundreds of parts. Other distributors are now partnering with O-ring to use the ShelfAware system on their own products. The technology was devised and built in-house, says Andrew Johnson, O-ring's sales and service director, to help customers manage their tools without requiring physical visits from O-ring personnel to count and reorder supplies at customer sites.

In 2015, Johnson says, he began exploring a system that was easier for customers to use than bar-code scanning, and turned to radio frequency identification. He then tested ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology in-house, using a single printer, a reader and tags on products. The company designed its own software to manage the collected data. It filed for a patent, then approached customers with the idea.

In January 2016, manufacturer Eskridge installed the technology at its site where it manufactures gear drives, brakes, diggers and anchor drives.

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ShelfAware is designed to capture data about the receipt and consumption of parts, thereby ensuring that products are automatically reordered as needed, while also helping the manufacturer to understand its inventory levels and reduce them to minimally necessary levels. For manufacturers, the company reports, the technology can mean saving labor related to inventory management, as well as eliminating excess supply purchases, while ShelfAware has boosted O-ring's sales as customers see value in the service.

Thus far, two manufacturers have begun using the solution to manage hundreds of parts. Other distributors are now partnering with O-ring to use the ShelfAware system on their own products. The technology was devised and built in-house, says Andrew Johnson, O-ring's sales and service director, to help customers manage their tools without requiring physical visits from O-ring personnel to count and reorder supplies at customer sites.

In 2015, Johnson says, he began exploring a system that was easier for customers to use than bar-code scanning, and turned to radio frequency identification. He then tested ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology in-house, using a single printer, a reader and tags on products. The company designed its own software to manage the collected data. It filed for a patent, then approached customers with the idea.

In January 2016, manufacturer Eskridge installed the technology at its site where it manufactures gear drives, brakes, diggers and anchor drives.

Read Full Article