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RFID-Assisted Grade Changes in a Factory

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000132652D
Publication Date: 2005-Dec-31
Document File: 3 page(s) / 20K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

Gu Lou: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

In a manufacturing environment, RFID technology can be used to improve the process of making changes in equipment and materials for a grade change or other change in operation. Such changes are typically made according to a predetermined “recipe” that identifies the various hardware settings and raw materials that are needed for a new grade or product to be made. To help ensure compliance with the recipe and to guide operators in making the proper changes in settings or selection of materials and equipment, an RFID system can be used that includes RFID tags associated with hardware units and raw materials, RFID readers used by operators, and a software system linked to the RFID readers that identifies what changes need to be made for the materials or equipment associated with a particular tag. The system can verify that the changes have been made and assist operators in identifying and completing the tasks needed to complete a change in manufacturing.

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RFID-Assisted Grade Changes in a Factory

Gu Lou, Dick Wolkowicz, and Jeff Lindsay

Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Neenah, Wisconsin

Abstract

In a manufacturing environment, RFID technology can be used to improve the process of making changes in equipment and materials for a grade change or other change in operation. Such changes are typically made according to a predetermined "recipe" that identifies the various hardware settings and raw materials that are needed for a new grade or product to be made. To help ensure compliance with the recipe and to guide operators in making the proper changes in settings or selection of materials and equipment, an RFID system can be used that includes RFID tags associated with hardware units and raw materials, RFID readers used by operators, and a software system linked to the RFID readers that identifies what changes need to be made for the materials or equipment associated with a particular tag. The system can verify that the changes have been made and assist operators in identifying and completing the tasks needed to complete a change in manufacturing.

Introduction

In a manufacturing facility such as a paper mill, food packing unit, or assembly line, changes in grade can require many manual adjustments of valves, regulators, feed lines, power supplies, and other devices. Entire modules of equipment may need to be replaced, and different raw materials may need to be selected. The changes may be listed in a "recipe" that can include the bill of materials for the grade and the various process settings and equipment selections needed. Experienced operators may be able to make these changes accurately in most cases, but less experienced personnel may be prone to mistakes or may require more time and assistance to make the needed changes. What is needed is an improved system to help operators find and adjust the appropriate devices for a grade change.

We propose an electronic grade change guide employing RFID (radiofrequency identification) technology. In this system, RFID chips are attached to units of equipment or other devices that may require manual attention for the grade change. Each chip has a unique electronic product code (EPC) or other identifier that is listed in a database of devices for the manufacturing facility. Each identifying code in the database is associated with location information, optionally including maps, directions, and photos that can show an operator how to find the device. Each grade made at the plant is associated with a recipe of materials and device settings in an operations database that indicates what the settings should be for each device in the device database. When a grade change is made, current device settings are electronically compared to the device settings needed for the new grade and devices in need of manual change are identified. A list is then automatically generated showing the devices that need changes, the new set points required, and the locations of t...