Belgian aircraft parts manufacturer Asco Industries is employing an RFID-based solution to manage 2,000 large machining tools, known as fixtures, at its facility in Brussels. Since the system went live in June, the company reports that it has reduced the amount of time its employees spend locating the large fixtures within its seven-building campus, from weeks down to hours. The system enables the firm to know in which building each tool is located; in that way, the tools can be quickly located for audits, when required by specific machining stations, or for maintenance or repair.
Asco produces high-precision steel and titanium components used by the aircraft industry. The production of these parts requires the use of specialized machining tools, to which a piece of metal is affixed before being cut to form a component. Each part for every type of aircraft requires a unique fixture so that it can be cut properly for a specific customer. Asco makes the fixtures at its facility, and in some cases, the fixtures are created to meet the requirements of a particular customer. The resulting machining tools then belong to that specific customer, rather than to Asco. In such a scenario, the customer might occasionally want to conduct an audit of its fixtures, and ensure that they are being properly maintained. This can take a month for Asco (or the customer's own staff) to locate each fixture and view several different electronic records-for example, one managed by the maintenance department, and another by the audit department.
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