Wind Energy Services Provider Adds RFID to Tools

Combination of UHF and HF RFID tags is helping SSC Wind to reduce the incidence of lost equipment at its job sites from 75 percent to 2 percent, and to ensure that recalibration is performed on time.

German energy technology company SSC Wind is using passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and high-frequency (HF) RFID tags, in combination with GPS technology, to manage tools and equipment stored within containers and service vehicles on its job sites. In so doing, the company can better account for the tools and ensure their return at day's end, thereby saving the cost of searching for or replacing them. The solution was supplied by track-and-trace systems provider DHL-MyIDentification, with RFID tags attached to tools that were provided predominantly by assembly and fastening materials maker Würth.

SSC Wind first deployed the solution in 2014 as a pilot involving 1,000 pieces of equipment and 600 tools stored in a single container and one vehicle at a lone site. This year, the company is deploying RFID-tagged items at each of its energy projects throughout Europe—a total of about 20 different locations.

DHL-MyIdentification attached a DHL-MyID MasterTag passive HF RFID tag to each tool, and then used an RFID reader to upload the tag's ID number to the DHL-MyID Inside software and link it to information about that asset.

For the past 14 years, SSC Wind has been providing operations and maintenance support at various European wind farms. In this capacity, the company has built and now maintains 1,300 wind turbines, both onshore and offshore.

At each project, the firm sends a team of workers who use wrenches, pliers, slings, harnesses and other equipment, all stored onsite within vehicles or trailers. The teams are expected to focus on maintenance tasks, but are often distracted by the need to locate equipment. Losing tools can be costly. The company also needs to track the use of tools to be sure they are properly calibrated and certified.

SSC Wind had been seeking a cost-effective way to simplify the tasks of technicians, electricians and supervisors. To that end, it launched a project known as "Partnership…The Next Generation," which DHL-MyIdentification delivered in order to enable the automatic tracking and tracing of tools and equipment.

In our business, the requirement for reliable equipment is key to improving operational reliability, safety and functionality," says Rene Psarski, SSC Wind's managing director. "We work in a highly demanding and developing industry. SSC Wind is continuously looking at how to improve the efficiency of operation processes."

Before the company deployed the RFID system, Psarski says, equipment could be lost or returned damaged, and there was no history of which assets were used. Often, only 25 percent of the tools were returned. The RFID system, with GPS location data and a satellite connection, enables the company to monitor the locations of all assets on each work site. With RFID, he reports, 98 percent of assets are now returned, with only 1 percent coming back damaged.

Small tools are stored in a bag fitted with its own HF RFID tag.

Every tool or other asset was fitted with a DHL-MyID MasterTag. A UHF RFID version of the tag is affixed to small items stored in tool bags, while slings and other assets are fitted with HF 13.56 MHz MasterTags compliant with the ISO 15693 standard. By using HF technology for most items, rather than UHF, the company can be assured that a technician has scanned any given asset. "We want to be 100 percent sure that the technician scans that specific security- or safety-related item," explains Pieter de Valk, DHL-MyIdentification's CEO.

All MasterTags are designed to be rugged, de Valk says, and to be mounted on metal. For the SSC Wind use case, DHL-MyID supplied the UHF and HF readers and the UHF tags, which it acquired from an unnamed third party.

The cloud-based DHL-MyID Inside software offers a variety of functions and applications, including issuing alerts, collecting and analyzing data from inspections and logistics, and mapping the locations of tagged items based on GPS data. DHL-MyID evaluates a customer's site prior to customizing these functions, based on the customer's specific needs, de Valk explains. "We build a so-called bridge to the existing ERP or IT platform of the customer," he states. "So we do not interfere with the existing IT infrastructure, unless the customer asks us to build onto their platforms as well." He adds that the solution can be used offline if no Internet connection is available.

First, an SSC Wind worker uses a handheld HF RFID reader to log into the DHL-MyID software on the hosted server. The employee reads the HF MasterTag embedded in his or her key fob ID, as well as the ID numbers of the tags on any equipment he or she is borrowing. At the end of the shift, the worker returns the items to the trailer and again reads the equipment tags, thereby indicating that they are being returned. Tool bags in which small tools are stored also come with passive HF tags, and a worker who borrows a bag of tools interrogates that bag's tag. Such an individual might also utilize a handheld UHF reader to interrogate the passive UHF tag affixed to each of the approximately 25 tools inside the bag.

A project supervisor can use the technology both during and after a worker's shift to update inventory data, by reading equipment tags either at the end of the day or at the employee's location. The software stores an expiration date for each item, and can display an alert in the event that an asset requires scheduled maintenance or calibration. The supervisor or worker can also input data about an item, such as a defect. Additionally, the software can issue an alert via text message or e-mail to project managers or supervisors when an item is due for maintenance or recalibration within a set period of time, without requiring that a user read its tag ID.

DHL-MyIdentification's Pieter de Valk

The handheld reader's GPS module collects the location where each tool's tag is read, and that data is then forwarded to the cloud-based server via a GSM network. If no GSM network is available (such as at an offshore site), a worker can operate the device in standalone format. Once a Wi-Fi connection becomes available, the device will transmit all collected data to the cloud. In this way, the system knows where each item was located when its tag was being read.

Since the system was installed, Psarski says, productivity has been improved by approximately 20 to 25 percent, due to workers spending less time searching for tools. As a result, he adds, labor costs have been reduced by 25 percent, while the cost of replacing missing assets has also saved the company a significant amount of money. Because containers need not be moved as often for the inventory to be counted at an SSC Wind site, the cost of transporting those containers has been lowered by 75 percent.

Previously, the counting of the tools and equipment stored inside a returned container took two to three days to complete, as employees manually checked inventory counts and confirmed calibration. "RFID allows us [automatically] to check… what assets need to be checked again, repaired or replaced," Psarski says.

Wind Energy Project

Who we are: DHL MYIDENTIFICATION (DHL-MylD) is a hands-on supplier of Auto-ID, E2E solutions, providing accurate and digital documentation on the equipment and its operations at all times, in all conditions. (The Internet of Things)

Wind Energy scope of project:
Install a flexible and smart tooling & equipment Auto ID-solution in SSC Wind operating tool containers and service vehicles to consolidate real-time tracking & tracing of vital data. A project bringing together DHL-MylD, Würth and SSC Wind, supplier of technical services to the wind energy sector with more than 1300 wind turbines erected and commissioned throughout Europe - both on- and offshore.

SSC Wind was looking for a cost effective way to make the job of technicians, electricians and supervisors easier and more efficient. Whether dealing with scheduled or unplanned repairs, a technician always has to make the most of each minute of the working day to get the job done. As a consequence, the project "Partnership ... The Next Generation" was launched.

For the purpose of this project, Würth delivered special tools and equipment and completed the conversion of service - containers and service-vans into mobile workshop while DHL-MylD designed and installed a customized solution for real­time tool & equipment registration, that collects vital information where it is most needed: on the asset itself.

Every tool and piece of equipment is mounted - retrofitted - by DHL-MylD with a robust and miniaturized HF / UHF MasterTag (RFID tag) which are specially designed for harsh and on-metal environments with a long data retention time. Collected data is digitally registered in real time, while reading the MasterTag with a handheld reader or smart phone and instantly & securely linked through the Cloud to customer's existing ERP or IT system. A GPS tracking system is also connected to DHL-MylD's software program which allows supervisors and SSC Wind management to monitor entire operations, from the containers' routing and position to the entire (quality) product lifecycle and equipment utilization to carrying out (quantity) completeness checks, including the digitized registration of technicians on site and their worked hours.

Portable tool bags for technicians, climbing the towers, are also equipped with UHF MasterTags with a handheld reader that is configured to read all 45 tools inside the tool bag, in less than 5 seconds with a built-in alert on tool input, tools returned, tool-fitness and completeness check.

Estimates and assessment of the implemented system and its value for SSC Wind:

  • Productivity improvement 20-25%
  • Labor cost savings 25%
  • Inventory checks related cost savings 30%
  • Product traceability improved by 35%
  • Reduced container transportation costs up to 75% (containers can now be transported from one project site to another, as there is no more need to return equipment containers to the SSC Wind HQ/warehouse for updates and inventory checks)
  • Equipment and its logistics get seamlessly integrated into customer's information network
  • Equipment become active participants in business processes and activities
  • Process and Information services interact with smart equipment over the internet /Cloud
  • Single-site and multi-site implementation

Today, other Auto-ID /RFID projects are being rolled out in Aerospace, Oil & Gas Industries including DHL-MylD's asset tracking solutions during shipments: combining Auto-ID and Logistics that provide digital data whether the right item (e.g. repaired, calibrated, replaced, exchanged, overdue, authentic part etc.) has been selected for transport.

For further information, please feel free to contact us via LLP@dhl.com.

CLIP: SSCWind

Smart Tool Management and Automatic Identification in Wind Energy sector

 

Lufthansa Technik Logistik Services and DHL MyID

Lufthansa Technik Logistik Services GmbH (LTLS) selects DHL-MyIDentification software and hardware solutions with ‘DHL MyID Inside’ to automate its tools & equipment identification process.

Venlo & Frankfurt, November 25, 2015

Lufthansa Technik Logistik Services, a fully owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik has selected DHL-MyIDentification as solution provider and integrator for the automation of its tools & equipment processes at Frankfurt Airport.

Dr. Harald Kolbe, Head of Innovation Management,stated: “LTLS was looking for an easy to operate, fully integrated and automatic Identification solution to enable the tracking and tracing of Tools and Equipment before, during and after MRO activities on aircraft. LTLS has selected the DHL-MyIDentification trademark solution ‘DHL MyID Inside’ because it enables an automated and 100% identification of our Tools inventory in order to satisfy regulatory and operational requirements”.

Pieter de Valk, DHL-MyIDentification CEO commented: “LTLS is a strategic partner and client for us and over the past months we have jointly developed the customized processes and solutions. We are proud to contribute to the innovation program of LTLS”.

DHL-MyIDentification installed a rugged Radio Frequency-based platform, with RF-Tags and Application Software to read and write information directly on tools and equipment. This allows LTLS not only to automate its processes (check-in, check-out and completeness check) but also to gain transparency of the condition and status of any asset at any time.

‘DHL MyID Inside’ retrofit solutions assure data accuracy and security through a real-time and cloud based database connectivity.  As a result, all tagged items will become smart and active assets s in LTLS’s supply chain.

LTLS’s mobile tools and equipment sets, equipped with “MyID inside”

   

www.dhl-myid.com

For further details please contact: ingrid.de.rooij@dhl-myid.com

DHL SMARTSENSOR GSM AND RFID

DHL SMARTSENSOR technology drives visibility along the pharmaceutical supply chain. Its ease-of-use and cost-effectiveness significantly enhance cold chain logistics. Integrated into logistics solutions, the SmartSensor saves time, effort, and money – allowing DHL’s customers to focus on their core business

The SmartSensor solution is a three-part system consisting of the sensor hardware portfolio, a central database, and the online web portal. The portfolio contains two products:

SMARTSENSOR RFID

is a passive device based on UHF RFID (ultra-high frequency radio frequency identification) technology. It monitors temperature during transport and can be used as a substitute for currently established temperature loggers. SmartSensor RFID monitors can be read in transit: checkpoints at predefined logistics milestones enhance the level of visibility.

SMARTSENSOR GSM

is based on mobile phone technology. It sends collected data to the database at pre-defined intervals, providing near real-time visibility. In addition to temperature, it monitors humidity, shock, and changes in light condition, and allows shipments to be geo-located. The latter two features combined significantly enhance the level of shipment security. A unique product, SmartSensor GSM has been devised to comply with even stricter regulations than those in place today.

All data collected by SmartSensor, regardless of which of the two sensor types is used is stored on the high-security DHL database and made available to authorized individuals through the password-protected web portal. It is thus readily accessible 24/7 around the globe for analysis and download by any computer with internet access.

Since all components are designed to be plug-and-play solutions, the DHL SMARTSENSOR RFID and GSM solutions do not affect any existing IT infrastructure currently in use. It goes without saying that both products comply with the relevant quality standards of the Life Sciences & Healthcare industry such as US CFR 21 Part 11, EU GDP, and EU GMP.

Developed to meet the challenges of the cold chain, the Smart-Sensor technology enhances shipment visibility and greatly simplifies data management.

LOW-COST SENSORS FOR SMARTER LOGISTICS

The rising popularity and sophistication of consumer technology products is driving an explosion in the availability of network-connected devices and low-cost sensors. These could have significant implications for the logistics industry.

LOW-COST SENSORS FOR SMARTER LOGISTICS

THE RADNET: Makes calls, detects radiation.

Consumer technologies offer great possibilities for the automation of core logistics activities. The latest smartphones and tablet computers can identify objects using barcodes, RFID, or near-field-communications technologies. They can determine location using GPS or triangulation with networks of WLAN base stations or cell towers. They can also measure temperature, humidity, and vibration, or evaluate the quantity or condition of objects via sophisticated image processing. And they can communicate all this data remotely and do much of it more cheaply than current industrial solutions – especially with capabilities bundled free in products that customers or employees already own.

To investigate the potential for the industrialization of these technologies, a group from DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation, in association with Fraunhofer IFF, recently conducted a field test of an innovative volume-measurement and freight-scanning system. It uses the 3D range imaging sensors from Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect gesture-based video game controller, which were mounted in warehouse environments including a pallet-loading area and on a forklift truck.

These low-cost sensors, which can collect both video and 3-D range data, were used to identify loads, calculate volumes, and create photographic documentation of load condition. They proved quick, effective, and accurate, with expected payback times more than five times faster than conventional solutions. Remaining challenges include simplifying system calibration and ensuring sufficient robustness for industrial conditions, but DHL is already examining further uses for the technology, including the identification of packages on conveyors, and the optimum loading of trucks and warehouse shelves.

Published:  April 2014

CASE STUDY: SOLUTIONS & INNOVATIONS II

 

CASE STUDY: SOLUTIONS & INNOVATIONS II

INNOVATION PROJECT: MATERIAL TAGGING & TRACKING (MTT)

Overview: Customer demands item level material visibility on-site
Core elements are identification and location technologies provided by a data induction platform

CUSTOMER CHALLENGE
• No item level visibility on-site
• Not finding parts
• Control of temporary imports
• Urgent re-orders
• Multi-stock situations
• Unknown material flows

DHL SOLUTION
• Item level identification by RFID, OCR or barcode
• Item location in and out-house
• Integrated, holistic material management solution
• Item locations visualized on maps and floor plans
• Process architecture

CUSTOMER BENEFITS
• Increased productivity due to item level visibility on-site
• Stock optimization
• Less customs liabilities
• Inventory at press of a button
• Control of temporary imports
• Less urgent re-order
• Improved MRO service

HOW TO COUNTER THE COUNTERFEITERS

In the age of product piracy, the world’s markets are being flooded with imitation and counterfeit products. Securing today’s increasingly complex supply chains represents a challenge for global companies.

HOW TO COUNTER THE COUNTERFEITERS

$1.8 TRILLION The projected total value of counterfeit products worldwide in 2015.

Product piracy, counterfeits, illegal copies: business in third-party intellectual property theft is booming. In 2011, counterfeiters manufactured products worldwide to the tune of $600 billion. According to BASCAP, the International Chamber of Commerce’s anticounterfeiting initiative, this figure will climb to $1.8 trillion in four years’ time – roughly equivalent to Italy’s current GDP. Luxury goods are the most high-profile counterfeit products.

But apart from fake Rolex watches and Louis Vuitton bags, pirates have also taken over other sectors, including medicines, electronic components, software, and spare parts. Even the US Army has unknowingly bought counterfeit components.

This counterfeit sector is setting the pace of economic development in many emerging countries. In China, illegal earnings accounted, until recently, for almost one-tenth of GDP. This has contributed to the country’s phenomenal growth, but is now leading to a rethink. “China is now making great efforts to combat counterfeiting,” says Hannes Hesse, CEO of the German Engineering Federation. Two-thirds of German engineering companies are measurably affected by product piracy. Most products are copied.

TOP 3 COUNTERFEIT GOODS

MEDICINES One in three malaria tablets is counterfeit. Experts estimate that in a few years all original medicines will have to be marked.

TECH INDUSTRY Components in the tech industry are copied on a massive scale. Counterfeit products - mostly from China - have been delivered to the US Army.

SPARE PARTS Half the cars in India are driving around with fake spare parts. Secure supply routes with individually labeled products could prevent many road accidents.

UNDERMINING PROFITABILITY

When a newly developed machine reaches the market, copies are already available. Most counterfeits come from China and are often of poorer quality, though cheaper than the real thing. But Beijing is now attempting to persuade Chinese companies of the need for industrial property rights. After all, Chinese firms are now enjoying global success, are involved in research, and hold patents.

They now also need to fight against counterfeiting. Fake products cost jobs, ruin companies, and even claim lives. Naturally, counterfeiting and piracy undermine an industry’s profitability and market integrity. Fake and diverted products, in the pharmaceutical sector for example, cost tens of millions of dollars every year – and hundreds of human lives. More than ten percent of all drugs sold worldwide are believed to be counterfeit. “The costs involved with product piracy are huge,” says BASCAP coordinator Jeffrey P. Hardy.

In the G-20 nations alone, counterfeiting and piracy are estimated to cost governments and consumers over $125 billion a year. But the big brand companies are hitting back. Rolls-Royce leases its engines, thus controlling the entire spare parts supply, and no longer needs to be afraid of product liability claims. Other companies are protecting their brand or intellectually property more robustly and mobilizing hordes of lawyers. And many are making their supply chains more secure by investing in robust supply chain security programs.

MAINTENANCE: THE INVISIBLE SUPPLY CHAIN

Optimizing “hidden” maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) supply chains has the potential to deliver far-reaching benefits for manufacturing companies, from reduced inventory and lower operational costs to increased production capacity and efficiency.

MAINTENANCE THE INVISIBLE SUPPLY CHAIN

To maximize productivity, manufacturing equipment must be effectively maintained. In many manufacturing companies, however, responsibility for MRO is split between multiple functions, with limited central planning and with individual sites or maintenance teams responsible for the supply of tools, and parts. The result of this poor coordination can be significant hidden waste. Research by management consultancy McKinsey, for example, showed that thefront-line technicians at one defense contractor spent more than 20% of their time waiting for parts, tools and equipment. Combined with other sources of waste, from a heavy administrative burden to bad coordination between functions, these technicians were only able to spend around two hours of a typical nine-hour shift actually fixing equipment.

Bad use of technician time is only the tip of the iceberg, however. Companies with poorly managed MRO functions suffer a host of other extra costs and inefficiencies too.  Parts inventories can be excessively high, unnecessarily duplicated, or even obsolete. And poorly maintained equipment can result in increased energy consumption, quality issues, or loss of production, driving up capital and operating costs.

CLIP: IMM