Carlisle Interconnect Technologies (CarlisleIT), a division of Carlisle Companies Incorporated, produces high performance wire and cable, including optical fiber. The company manufactures a wide range of products used in electronics for the commercial aerospace and defense industries.
Jim Necci is the warehouse manager for the plant located in St. Augustine, Florida. Necci and several other managers had previously worked in warehouses with barcode scanning for automated data collection. Necci sought to bring barcoding to CarlisleIT in order to improve accuracy and efficiency in the raw materials warehouse, the manufacturing floor and the shipping department.
Necci’s team was processing warehouse transactions manually in their SAP ERP system, without the benefit of barcode scanners or any type of mobile data collection. Whether receiving or putting away materials, issuing materials to the shop floor, or shipping goods, each transaction required multiple, time-consuming steps to complete. “We were experiencing variation—too many mistakes. We required considerable staffing because of everything we had to do in this manual process,” recalled Necci.
Necci evaluated three potential solutions before selecting RFgen Mobile Foundations for SAP—a suite of pre-written, SAP certified data collection solutions that feature real-time, bi-directional information exchange with CarlisleIT’s SAP system. Necci chose RFgen because of the company’s expertise in mobile application development for SAP. “RFgen had done a lot of work with SAP, and I wanted to get somebody involved that knew SAP. When I spoke to people from RFgen, they were more than helpful and made me believe the partnership was going to work very well,” he said.
RFgen drives greater worker productivity and reduces errors by automating routine warehouse and plant floor transactions, so workers can complete tasks with mobile devices, including barcode scanners. This mobile data collection software solution can be easily and quickly adapted to the unique workflows of any manufacturer. RFgen’s mobile apps help manufacturers efficiently control movement of materials within the warehouse and provide instant access to item quantities, locations and availability.
CarlisleIT went live with eight RFgen transactions in the raw material warehouse. The company was undergoing an SAP upgrade at the time of this writing, so an additional four transactions, for the plant floor and shipping warehouse, were in phases of development and testing.
About nineteen warehouse employees use RFgen with barcode scanners, and they’ve achieved measurable gains in productivity and accuracy. RFgen has helped CarlisleIT automate many manual processes in order to:
Receiving and Putaway
With mobile barcode scanners, RFgen has helped the CarlisleIT team save time and improve the utilization of warehouse employees. Before, it would take multiple transactions in SAP to receive materials. Now, vendors supply an incoming barcode, and “we just scan the purchase order number, the line number, the quantity, and the vendor lot number. RFgen helps us complete the multiple transactions it would take in SAP about 30% to 40% faster,” Necci said.
Putaway gained the same level of efficiency. From four or five manual steps in SAP, workers now point and scan the RFgen label and then point and scan the rack bin label.
The time savings enabled CarlisleIT to optimize staffing. Necci explained, “For all the receiving transactions, including P.O. receipt, put away, issue to the floor and return from the floor, we have been able to reassign one full-time employee to another department in the plant and eliminate two temp positions.”
Issuing and Returning Raw Materials
The raw material warehouse team issues material to the plant floor and receives returned material. Some material is purchased while other material comes in on consignment. Necci’s team issues material to the floor, approximately 40% faster, thanks to RFgen. Returns are faster, with much higher accuracy.
“Before RFgen, we would write the weight on the box by hand and hope somebody would cross it out and write the new weight during return,” Necci said. “Now, we tell RFgen how much came back and it automatically adds that to the amount in the box and then prints out a new label with updated quantity. Our raw material accuracies with RFgen are above 99%, up from the low 90s. Mistakes have gone completely away.”
Necci’s team conducts one physical inventory of the entire raw material warehouse each year. It usually takes about 30 hours. With RFgen, Necci expects to cut this time down to just six hours. And once automated cycle counting comes online, the need for an annual physical inventory will be eliminated.
Because CarlisleIT provides cables and wires to the military and commercial aerospace industries, traceability of materials and finished goods is an important aspect of compliance. Before RFgen, traceability was a more manual process that required going through multiple screens in SAP looking for documents. “With the RFgen label now, by scanning a storage unit number, we have full traceability all the way back to when material came into the building,” Necci said.
Necci looks forward to the full implementation of additional RFgen functionality, including shipping automation and WIP inventories. He’d like to take the functionality into more areas of the business and has also shown it to other CarlisleIT plants.
“Everybody that has seen the way the warehouse is functioning really likes RFgen. The plant loves this software. The warehouse guys are absolutely ecstatic. The shipping guys cannot wait until it gets to their area,” said Necci. “RFgen was the right partnership for us. I’ve presented RFgen to other CarlisleIT plants in North America and other countries, and several have expressed interest.”