As a leading provider of both aerospace and defense technologies, this manufacturer provides both commercial and government sectors, with a wide variety of products including rocket propulsion systems, military grade flares and missiles, to name a few. With annual revenues approaching $4 billion and with billions in contract backlog, this Company is well-established as an industry titan.
Supply Chain Challenges: Asset Management
For manufacturing goods related to government and commercial space needs, one of the biggest challenges faced is in asset tracking and inventory control. Understandably, the sheer volume of manufactured goods, as well as the tools to make them, hold significant value. Many assets include expensive tools to produce rocket propellant, fork lifts, work trucks, safety equipment, and much more. With approximately 200 warehouses spread across a 20 square-mile facility in the Midwest, not only do they have to track thousands of assets, they also need full visibility into what is located at each site – an overwhelming challenge. With a diverse client base requiring full inventory counts at differing time intervals, they also must be prepared to run a full inventory count every year.
A full inventory count typically consists of one employee driving their personal vehicle to all 200 of the locations spread out across the facility, finding the barcode on each and every item on the warehouse shelf, manually counting and writing down which assets are at each site, and later entering that data into an Excel spreadsheet. Further, due to the high volume of assets that need tracking, and the 200 locations located over a large worksite, inventory counts take up to 120-man hours to complete and are often inaccurate. Since these inventory counts are generally performed by one person, this process takes about three weeks to complete.
Additionally, many tools are deployed to their manufacturing sites and never returned when finished. Employees are constantly checking out tools and forgetting to return them to their home location, forcing purchasing managers to replace tools that they erroneously think are missing. Whether tools are lost through unorganized practices or stolen by employees looking to make a quick dollar, this is a massive problem, leading to over purchasing.
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Controlling Aerospace Parts Cycle Counts
Apptricity’s Supply Chain Management system contains robust technology to help solve problems with asset tracking and inventory count. Each Apptricity system utilizes cloud computing, allowing for accessible and secure data storage.
The Apptricity I-Connect™ Controller, with patent pending technology, can act as a static RFID interrogator. For warehouses that have large areas, employees can utilize a handheld RFID gun, loaded with the Apptricity Asset Management mobile application, to scan all assets in a specific location. Additionally, the I-Connect Controller can be set up as an interrogator for all items entering and leaving the building. When an item (finished product, components, tools) leaves or re-enters the warehouse, a record is timestamped and saved to keep an accurate log of when the asset left, and when it was checked back in. Employees tasked with counts no longer need to find the barcodes on each item to keep track of its location.
The Asset Management system also allows the user to import existing assets to cut down on manual entry time, and every RFID tag can be associated with these existing assets. Furthermore, Apptricity’s solutions can interface with any RFID tag in the market today, which gives the customer the flexibility to purchase and utilize any tag desired. Both the I-Connect Controller and mobile application can send data to the Web application in real time via cellular and WiFi network communication, allowing for quick analytics and higher visibility into purchase and replacement decisions.
Managing Assets for Results
With Apptricity’s Supply Chain Management solution, paired with RFID asset tracking technology, a company can drastically cut down on the time it takes to do a full inventory count. After tagging and inserting their assets into the Asset Management system, there is full 360-degree visibility for each asset, providing information such as location, service history, custodianship, condition, and asset category.
By installing the Apptricity I-Connect Controller in smaller warehouses, and utilizing a standard RFID reader for larger ones, employees charged with doing a full inventory count can accomplish this task over the course of a weekend, saving hundreds of hours and multiple counts, plus ensuring accuracy. Full cycle counts can be run more often, allowing management to see information such as assets that need replacing, assets that need repair, and which assets are ready for retirement. All this information can be accessed on the Apptricity Supply Chain Management Web application, allowing management to run reports based on multiple criteria, such as inventory by location or status of assets in a specific category.