With this particular RFID-based solution, the forklift operator – not the warehouse management system, determines the storage location within the warehouse of each palletised load.
An RFID reader was mounted on the fork carriage of a Jungheinrich ETV 214 reach truck, which was also equipped with a wireless PC, and a barcode scanner for identifying the pallet IDs. Transponders were positioned on each pallet location within the store while for ground-level storage positions the transponders were fixed to the floor.
In operation, goods to be stored are tagged in the incoming goods department with a slip containing the article information and a barcoded ID number. When the pallet ID is scanned, the article is logged into the warehouse management system (WMS), then brought to the warehouse using the reach truck. In the warehouse itself the forklift operator only needs to find the first available storage location. As soon as the reach truck operator is ready to unload the pallet there, s/he simply presses a button on the terminal display. This activates the RFID reader, which is located between the two forks. While the pallet is being stored, the reader reads the transponder mounted on the pallet location within the racking or, in the case of ground level pallets, on the floor, thus matching the pallet ID to the storage location.
This information is automatically communicated back to the WMS system, which then ‘knows’ exactly where each item is located in the warehouse. Since the location is not pre-assigned by the warehouse management system, the driver has the freedom to choose his preferred location. When the pallet is picked, the operator removes the pallet specified by the WMS system. The storage location is again identified via RFID and the pallet is logged out of the WMS system. This means the pallet space is freed up not only physically, but also within the system itself.
The result has been a significant increase in efficiency at the store since the system was introduced in Spring 2009.
Steve Richmond, General Manager for Jungheinrich UKs Systems & Projects Division, comments: “Some of the most meaningful supply chain productivity gains are currently being made by optimising the truck’s on-board intelligence systems and integrating the truck into the logistics information process. The forklift is increasingly perceived less as a tool for picking up and moving pallets around – rather it is evolving into a logistics unit.”
He continues: “Any technology that removes some of the pressure on the forklift operator by making his or her day to day operational procedures more straightforward can only bring efficiency and productivity benefits and this is a good example of how that works.“
Jungheinrich UK Ltd
Tel: 01908 363100