This setup helps maintain a synchronous flow of material across the GETRAG Ford supply chain, resulting in reduced inventory and higher productivity, according to Ralf Vierkotten, supervisor of logistics and material handling, GETRAG Ford Transmissions.
"We are operating leaner than ever before," Vierkotten says. "Production-line employees no longer need to leave their workstations to help search for parts or to help material control determine the correct part; all they have to do is push a WhereCall active RFID button, and the system notifies all the required parties—from the line side to the forklift driver to the internal warehouse—that more parts are needed.
This 'intelligent' automated system supports our lean manufacturing processes as we benefit from real-time inventory consumption and can execute replenishment orders just in time."
In terms of actual performance metrics, Vierkotten says the Material Replenishment Flow solution has delivered the following benefits:
- Up to 20% improvement in labor productivity
- A 1/3 reduction in daily forklift trips
- A decrease in on-hand inventory from local suppliers from seven days to two days, resulting in a $750,000 savings in inventory carrying costs
- Improved utilization of floor space for storing parts
- Better visibility of plant floor demand
- A near complete elimination of downtime due to parts shortages
Based on the success of this initial implementation, GETRAG FORD Transmissions plans to expand the use of the Zebra Material Flow Wireless Parts Replenishment solution to other facilities.