RFID on the Production Line
eventually shipped. The RFID system passes information back into Wells' control architecture and shares it across the firm's enterprise network. A typical slap-and-ship system would have forced Wells' to manually rewrap and re-palletize its cases, which would have increased labor costs, Galles explains.

'From the outset, we viewed the implementation of RFID technology as a catalyst for making process changes that improve business performance,' says Galles. 'Once the data is collected, it can be

used to improve inventory tracking; automate many of our quality control and inventory processes; and simplify our data collecting processes.' Wells' adds its RFID system has freed up personnel; helped increase accuracy of freezer counts; decreased mis-shipped pallets; and minimized the need for manual reconciliation.

The dairy and Rockwell add many efficiencies provided by the RFID system are aided by the data processing capabilities that resides behind the tags. For example, each RFID tag at the dairy is linked to a database that holds the production attributes of each case of ice cream, including time produced, batch identification, and production line. This lets Wells' operators know precisely when each tag is applied, and from what batch the pallet originated.

In essence, the sophistication of an RFID tag's identification data can help physical status and environmental data in the user's database, certify that process changes have occurred or that tests have been passed, and enable decisions and actuations to improve quality even further.

'The value of RFID lies in its ability to add value by increasing plant-floor visibility, which it does by collecting data in a way that's compatible with equipment we already have,' says Galles. 'To achieve maximum value for investment, it was important for us to design the RFID system using the same ControlLogix platform used in our existing processes.'

RFID basics

Sure, RFID tags don't require line-of-sight, can handle more data, an