RFID keeps production in tune

RFID keeps production in tune

Hexcel Corp., a manufacturer of composite materials, produces the honeycomb inserts that go inside the hard tonneau covers found on the Chevrolet Avalanche truck series. The size of these covers makes using a traditional conveyor system during production

The motorized-transport-pallet-conveyor system in use at Hexcel Corp. relies on RFID reader/writers and tags supplied by Escort Memory Systems.


Hexcel Corp., a manufacturer of composite materials, produces the honeycomb inserts that go inside the hard tonneau covers found on the Chevrolet Avalanche truck series. The size of these covers makes using a traditional conveyor system during production costly and cumbersome. To solve this problem, the company installed a radio-frequency-identification (RFID)-based conveyance system.

Called the PowerPallet, the system reverses the conventional conveyor-system process by motorizing the transport pallets while the conveyor system is stationary. Parts ride on smart, motorized carts that travel on 800 ft. of simple track comprised of extruded angles.

Key to the system are the RFID reader/writers and tags. Hexcel needed these items to process information at an acceptable speed, be easy to use, and be dust, dirt, and oil-resistant.

The company went with Escort Memory Systems' HMS827-Series passive reader/writers and HMS125 passive RFID tags. The passive reader/writers are mounted on each PowerPallet, and each intersection has 5 RFID tags, one of which is programmed with the intersection's exact X and Y address. The other four tags, located around each intersection, have information that slows the PowerPallets as they approach an address. These tags also report to the main controller to clear an intersection for use by other PowerPallets.

"The operational efficiency at Hexcel was dramatically improved after the implementation of the PowerPallets system. It is a special design that has never been done before, but makes a lot of sense," says Glen Ward, president of Ward Systems Inc., the company that installed the PowerPallets system.

Escort Memory Systems
Scotts Valley, Calif.
www.ems-rfid.com

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