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Wood processor installs RFID units on forklifts

Thursday, 24 Jun 2010 ( #467 ) - Orangeburg, SC, United States
News Story
With RFID, Cox is experiencing accuracy of about 99% in shipping orders.
Specialised wood-product supplier Cox Industries Inc is using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to improve efficiency in its forklift and shipping operations.

In an initial location in Blackstone, Virginia, the family-operated business replaced manual tracking processes with RFID and is experiencing accuracy of about 99% in shipping orders for wood products to building supply dealers and specialty distributors.

Cox contracted with Stark RFID for its technology. The Greenville, South Carolina-based software developer and turnkey RFID integrator provided its HackTrac work-in-progress inventory management system.

Cox obtained RD5000 mobile RFID readers from the enterprise mobility solutions division of Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola Inc. The device can read RFID tags attached to the lumber packages. Stark RFID recommended that Cox use the Motorola readers.

"We have found that the RFID system improves our offering by giving employees quick access to details such as order history, customer change requests and real-time ordering status," says Greg Campbell, Cox director of operations.

When a forklift picks up a package of lumber, the RD5000 unit reads the RFID tag and the operator views the information regarding where the lumber should be stacked in the yard on a forklift-mounted monitor. After the package is stacked, the information is transferred wirelessly. Cox managers can track a package’s whereabouts, born-on dates and order fulfillment process.

"The RFID system from Motorola and Stark RFID is helping us reach our goals of increasing operational efficiencies and redefining customer service by improving worker productivity by 44% and increasing annual inventory turns by as much as two times," Campbell reports.

The Bluetooth-integrated RD5000 eliminates the need to mount a traditional fixed reader in an enclosure and run cabling to antennas on the front of the forklift. The results: less use of cables, lower costs and a wireless network.

In addition to Blackstone and its extensive Orangeburg headquarters location, Cox Industries has operations in Eutawville, North and Branchville, South Carolina; Leland, Ramseur and Cove City, North Carolina; and Vance, Alabama. Once Cox deploys about 75 RFID readers for use at all facilities, the system will provide managers with real-time metrics to compare efficiency across plants, personnel and equipment.

In addition to the RFID solution, Cox is implementing a new enterprise-resource-planning system, a purchasing system and other applications to provide an integrated inventory platform.
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