An auto industry seat supplier was faced with the manufacturer's demand for Just-In-Time delivery of their car seats. The auto manufacturer demanded that seats be delivered only when the cars that required the seats were on the production line, leaving the seat manufacturer a two-hour window to pick and load the required seats and ship them to their destination on time. In addition, the seats were to be loaded onto the truck in sequential order according to where the car was in relation to the other cars that required the seats. If a purple seat was delivered to put in a green car, the auto manufacturer had to shut down the line and off line the car and the supplier was fined per minute for the shut down.
Current Directions designed a easy to use Just-In-Time fulfillment system, using Intermec JR2020RF radio frequency readers, an Intermec 9180 RF concentrator, and an Allen Bradley PLC to control conveyor movement with one Windows based control PC. This organized, storage method laid the ground work for the time-efficient method of inventory picking when the orders are to be filled within the allotted time window.
The first step is to have a bar code applied at the time of the seat's manufacturing. The bar code contains product information such as style, color etc and assigns each seat a unique product identification number. When the seat is received at the warehouse conveyor, the Q. C. Auditor scans the bar code, which instructs the PLC to route the seat to the appropriate end of the warehouse conveyor, as predefined by engineering and executed by the control computer.
The PC is equipped with a touch screen monitor, that has a diagram of the warehousing bins displayed; inquires about location and quantity are made by a simple touch of the 'screen bin'. Once the seat reaches the end of the warehouse conveyor, the lift truck operator scans the seat and the appropriate storage bin is lit to indicate the item's assigned storage location. The operator can cross reference the lighted bin indicator with the LED display on the Janus 2020 for verification, and proceed to store the seat.
The second part of the solution involves reducing the 'hunt' time required when it is time to ship. This is easily accomplished by providing the lift truck driver with the same Janus 2020 as the operator who stored the seats. When the product number is scanned on the pick order, the bin that contains the corresponding seat lights up to indicate its storage location. Since the seat location is easily identified, the lift operator fills the order correctly and a cross-reference is provided on the LED display on the Janus 2020. The lift truck operator puts the seat on the shipping conveyor in the required order to correspond with the order of the cars awaiting the seats at the auto plant for the Just-In-Time delivery.
This system easily paid for itself with the elimination of 'Off-Line' time for which the supplier is assessed a per minute penalty. The system provided an efficient method for storage and "picking", it saves valuable time, and provides the most important thing of all - a reputation for on time, quality shipment of goods.