Thermo King improves manufacturing operations with AeroScout wireless parts replenishment solution

AeroScout, Inc., a leading provider of Unified Asset Visibility for improving operational efficiency, has deployed a wireless parts replenishment solution for Thermo King Corporation, together with value added reseller (VAR), IMEC Technologies.

Using the Wi-Fi Active RFID solution, Thermo King is driving lean manufacturing and operational improvements in its major manufacturing facility in Galway, Ireland.

Thermo King manufactures transport temperature control systems for trailers, truck bodies, shipboard and airborne containers, and buses and railway cars. The company has implemented a Wi-Fi parts replenishment solution also known as an e-Kanban system and integrated it into its internal manufacturing applications. The AeroScout solution uses standard Wi-Fi and leverages Thermo Kings existing Cisco Unified Wireless Network, which the staff also uses for data communications with laptops and handheld mobile computers.

When additional parts are needed on the production line, workers at the facility use call buttons located on AeroScouts Wi-Fi tags mounted next to parts containers throughout the facility. When the quantity in a container reaches a pre-determined level, workers simply press the corresponding call button to request more parts. The battery-powered tags transmit the request over the facilitys standard Wi-Fi network to AeroScouts MobileView software. These requests are then processed by IMECs parts replenishment application, which initiates the appropriate materials replenishment steps. The solution requires no hard wires, is easy to deploy and enables flexible support of production line layout changes.

We needed a scalable solution to reduce the time for parts replenishment and increase throughput and productivity, said Padraig Campbell, supply chain manager at Thermo King. AeroScout and IMEC have helped us improve our operations while leveraging our existing wireless infrastructure. In the future, we are looking at AeroScout solutions for additional asset visibility applications, such as asset tracking and management for the dollies that move between our facilities.

IMEC integrated AeroScouts solution with Thermo Kings internal logistics software so that calls from the tags create work orders in the logistics system. Thermo King hosts AeroScouts MobileView software at its Minneapolis, Minnesota headquarters, while the parts replenishment solution and an IMEC-created custom graphical user interface is used locally in the Galway facility.

Manufacturers are under tremendous pressure to reduce costs and operate more efficiently, and AeroScouts Unified Asset Visibility solutions are helping many companies accomplish exactly that, said Gabi Daniely, VP of Marketing and Product Strategy at AeroScout. Our Wi-Fi-based solutions allow clients to drive lean manufacturing and operational efficiency in a cost-efficient manner without adding wired or proprietary infrastructure.

Andris Berzins, MD at AeroScout, explained that Thermo King had relied on a manual approach prior to sourcing the wireless parts replenishment solution. Previously, the operators would manually signal when they were running out of parts with a paper-based solution. This type of parts replenishment approach is still very common in a lot of manufacturing companies. Berzins added that, with many companies, the problem is that they either have to endure a long period for restocking as well as delays in making the right information available, or they end up stocking a lot of parts and make up for the lack of an efficient replenishment system by increasing the number of staff they keep at the line side. This has two main costs; one is the amount of capital that can be tied up in inventory that is not needed, and secondly it can physically tie-up space.

Joe Lynch, managing director of IMEC, commented: In terms of the implementation, we worked very much in tandem with AeroScout. Because it was new technology going into the plant we initially provided a proof-of-concept demonstration for Thermo King. This was then approved and the system went live towards the end of 2008.


About Thermo King Corporation

Thermo King is the global leader in solutions for temperature-controlled transport, supplying the world market from 11 production facilities and over 800 distributors world-wide. The company offers a wide range of refrigeration and heating units for vehicles of all sizes, from small vans to large trailers, as well as airborne and ocean-going containers. In addition Thermo King provides heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment for passenger buses and railcars. Thermo King also offers service maintenance programmes and finance solutions as well as a range of accessories and temperature monitoring and tracking equipment. For more information on Thermo Kings products and services please visit Thermo King is a business unit of leading diversified industrial company Ingersoll Rand, a global provider of products, services, and integrated solutions to industries as diverse as transportation, manufacturing, construction and agriculture.

About AeroScout

AeroScout is the market leader in Unified Asset Visibility solutions. Clients improve operational efficiency and quality using AeroScout products that leverage standard Wi-Fi networks to track and manage the location, condition and status of mobile assets and people. AeroScouts global customer base consists of leading hospital, manufacturing and logistics organizations, including many of the Fortune 500. The company originally invented the first Wi-Fi-based Active RFID tag, and today is widely recognized as leading the market in number of deployments and tags shipped. Headquartered in Redwood City, Calif., AeroScout has offices in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Australia.

About IMEC Technologies

IMEC Technologies provides track and trace solutions to its customers using RFID or barcode technology. Products include Navigation, a material tracking and reporting system, and HazMat T&T which is a Hazardous Waste Tracking system for use in hospitals, pharmaceutical, chemical and biotech facilities. IMEC is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner for Mobility and ISV software solutions and an AeroScout Value Added Reseller with offices in the US, UK and Ireland.

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