POSCO, one of the world’s largest steelmakers, has implemented a proprietary RFID-based logistics solution to track and trace multi-ton metal coil products from manufacturing through customer delivery. The automated solution is designed to improve the accuracy and efficiency of key operational processes.
Implementing RFID technology in steel mills poses unique challenges, as the pervasive metal environment interferes with RF signal readability. POSCO used its experience implementing a RFID-based worker safety program in 2009 to design its own logistics system and ensure it integrated seamlessly with its existing manufacturing systems. The company is using modified UPM DogBone UHF tags that have two antennas and are applied upright inside heavy metal coils tags as flag tags, perpendicularly to the items’ curved surfaces.
Metal coils are tagged during the packaging process, and items are read when they are moved by cranes to the warehouse, during storage, and again when they are readied for shipment. POSCO’s RFID system is comprised of UPM DogBone UHF tags, hand-held industrial PDAs, fixed RFID readers attached to cranes and placed at factory gates, enterprise resource planning and manufacturing execution systems, and a server. Because the RFID system integrates seamlessly with customers’ own planning solutions via the internet, they can access real-time information on their products, using data to plan and fine-tune their own production operations.
By implementing the RFID-based logistics system, POSCO has automated the inspection, packaging, and shipping of its metal coil products. In addition to providing complete traceability of company products, the RFID system has decreased packaging and shipping errors, improving customer satisfaction and reducing costs by $1.4 million USD each month.