Taking it step-by-step means small upfront cost at St. Louis facility
By Victoria Forlini
Dipping RFID tags in liquid nitrogen may not be standard operating procedure for most projects, but Boeing IDS believes a sub-zero experiment may help reduce spoilage and track containers in their plant here.
Supply chain manager Steve Georgevitch and his team have been monitoring individually tagged cylinders of frozen sealant for six to eight months. The aerospace sealant is used so pieces of metal don’t rub together causing critical problems during flight. Though kept at low temperatures for increased stability, the sealant needs to be used in a timely manner or spoilage, and loss of investment, will occur. He estimates the current spoilage rate at about 10 percent.
Monitoring the hundreds of 4- to 8-ounce plastic tubes of sealant is a bit more complex than just counting them: They sit in -100 degree F freezers. Each container in the experiment has a Class 0 passive UHF 915 MHz RFID tag attached; the reader is also in the freezer. The information received from the tags will be monitored in a database.
The workers will have a better idea of how to get inventory out the door, and see which containers have been sitting in the freezer longest, an important factor when the substance’s shelf-life is just 60 days. Boeing will also be able to track the containers within approximately 50 freezers throughout the facility.
Understanding the scope of a project and getting it under way in a timely manner may be as important as having all the technology and equipment available for an RFID implementation, says Georgevitch. “Some projects take on a life of their own and never reach a point of completion.” Boeing began using RFID in 1999. The St. Louis facility started with RFID about three years ago.
This article originally appeared in the June 2005 issue of RFID Operations.