Simple e Kanban Systems for Just-in-Time Inventory with RFID

By Klaus Schoeke | Asset Tracking

Every manufacturing company can benefit from just-in-time inventory.  The greatest benefit may be freeing up working capital which allows managers to redirect financial resources toward corporate growth objectives rather than sitting inefficiently idle on a stock room shelf.  

Large companies have enjoyed the assistance of automated Kanban systems to monitor and adjust inventory levels based on real time demand inputs.   Now small companies can achieve the same benefits without the IT complexities, software development demands, and the ongoing maintenance associated with application specific software residing on a private server.

Companies that offer Kanban software solutions typically use a scanner to read a barcode printed on a Kanban ticket that triggers the pull of inventory into the system.  An increasing number now use smart phones to read the barcode and transmit data to the cloud; accepting the on-going cost of a data plan, and the required maintenance of a custom specific app as a fair exchange for the convenience of a readily available device.

Next generation eKanban systems eliminate the data plan in favor of widely available WiFi connections and toss out the custom specific app by using a standard web browser and eCommerce sites for order placement.

An example of this latest technology is FEIG Electronics’ smart ordering solution.  Unique in the entire data collection industry, the ECCO+ is a mobile device with an embedded, configurable middleware.  Tens of thousands of these devices are in use today as ordering tools in the stock room.  ECCO+ is small, rugged, hand held product.  Earlier this year FEIG introduced the HyWEAR compact, an even smaller device that is wearable.  Both products read traditional 1D and 2D barcodes and optionally, RAIN RFID tags.

This middleware collects, connects, and transfers item information using one of five methods.  There are no drivers to install, no special software to learn, no programming skills are required, and no on-going software maintenance to manage.  More importantly, because there are no system level integrations or application programs required on the corporate server, substantially involving a company’s IT department is now unnecessary.

How can it be that easy?  It’s all in a free, graphical Master Set Up configuration tool that guides you through a series of mouse clicks.  There is no programming language to learn and no special training. 

Step One: Select the AutoID technology you wish to collect.  You have a choice between 1D or 2D barcodes or RFID.   It’s possible to collect both barcode and RFID data.  Master setup will simply want to understand which to scan first.

Next:  Define the purpose of the ECCO+ four function buttons.  For example: Press one to scan an item, press another to increment a quantity, another to decrement.  Perhaps reserve one as a convenient multiplier on the ordered quantity. 

Step Three:  Determine if the data should be transmitted over a USB interface, or as key code in USB-HID mode, or over a WiFi or Bluetooth connection.   Master Set Up guides you through the network connection or pairing process.  It’s even possible to select and send data across these multiple interfaces. 

The final step is to define the format of the data.  The EMMware has three automatic and two manual data transfer modes.  You can select to send the information as a completed HTML form through a standard web browser to an eCommerce site.  There is an option to send the data as an HTTP post request to a Cloud based service.  There is also an option to send a file to an FTP site using the middleware’s integrated FTP client.   Just plug the ECCO+ into its cradle.  The middleware will connect and perform an automatic transfer.  No logging in, no passwords to enter. 

The EMMware also has an embedded email client built into it so you can even send the file as an email attachment.  It’s also possible to transfer the file to a local PC in a text or Excel format. 

FEIG has thought of every possibility in their smart ordering solution.  Find out more by watching this informative webinar, download the whitepaper, or just give us a call.  We would be happy to tell you more.

About the Author

Vice President of Technical Sales at FEIG Electronics, Inc.

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