For the past five years, the Pyhäsalmi mine in central Finland has been using passive high-frequency RFID tags to record when workers enter or leave a mine shaft. Since that time, says Kimmo Luukkonen, the mine's managing director, the technology has improved management's visibility into who is underground and when, and hence has increased its safety program's efficiency and accuracy. The company plans to expand that RFID solution to monitor who carries explosive detonators into the mine.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates 10,000 products ranging from apparel to household appliances, inspects less than 1 percent of imports under its jurisdiction. With the odds stacked against being detected, cost-cutting foreign manufacturers continue to supply dangerous goods to U.S. retailers.
As the manufacturing industry spins its web across the world more and more, the network connecting businesses and their partners become much more complex. One of these areas most impacted is a company's supply chain, the main catalyst of one's ability to produce and distribute their products as efficiently and to as large and diverse of a customer base as possible. While this broadening supply chain ability certainly brings along many benefits, the ability to manage risk, particularly in the area of quality, becomes quite challenging.
Many companies unintentionally have created departmental silos within their organizations. Information and products go back and forth between the different functional areas, but the customer is often missing from the process. When lean supply chain strategies, which focus on eliminating waste, are implemented, once again the customer is often times left out. Instead of focusing on the client, the company focuses internally to improve processes. Research shows that undertaking a lean supply chain journey that extends outside the four walls of the organization significantly improves the customer experience, company productivity and the bottom line. - Eric Lail, VP, Continuous Improvement and Client Services, Transportation Insight