Kimberly-Clark

Leading Health & Hygiene Company Employs Smart RFID labeling system


Consumer products giant Kimberly-Clark is one of the first, largest and most experienced RFID smart label users. The company faced familiar compliance challenges, but also had to scale its RFID system to support high-volume production. Zebra printer/encoders integrated with WMS and order management systems successfully met the challenge.

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The Story

THE CHALLENGE

Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB), a leading global health and hygiene company, is one of the first companies to have applied RFID smart labels to its product shipments in response to specific customer requests. Faced with many of the same challenges as other companies who use RFID smart shipping labels, K-C needed RFID printer/encoder equipment that would have minimal downtime, and support the company's high volumes of RFID labels placed on cases of product. The company also required equipment that not only worked reliably in an industrial environment that could be hot, humid and dusty, but also equipment that is easy to use so workers could quickly replace empty label rolls without slowing production.

The Solution

Kimberly-Clark installed and networked four model R110Xi™ printer/encoders from Zebra Technologies to produce RFID smart labels for outbound shipments.

The Zebra printer/encoders receive print commands from RFID software from OATSystems, which is installed on the host computer system. The OATSystems software interfaces with K-C's order management and warehouse management systems to collect and format the information needed to produce shipping labels for each individual customer order. The data is sent over the network to one of the Zebra printer/encoders, which output labels that include information in text, barcode and RFID formats, according to individual customer needs. The R110Xi automatically checks to ensure each RFID smart label is properly encoded before releasing the finished label for application. Once the Zebra printer/encoder outputs properly encoded smart shipping labels, Kimberly-Clark workers apply the label by hand to cases of product.

These cases are then stacked on pallets, which are verified with a portal reader before they are shrink-wrapped. The reader captures the RFID carton label data and passes it to the system software, which checks the pallet against the order before clearing it for shipment.

Results

K-C has proven that high volume and high reliability can go together within an RFID smart labeling system. The system K-C uses includes highly reliable printer/encoders from Zebra Technologies and has spread to multiple high-volume product lines within Kimberly-Clark's supply chain. The RFID smart label system is performing reliably and currently meets the needs of K-C and its customers.

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