Currently, new furniture logistics is a hot topic of discussion in the industry. At ZOW 2013, visitors to the "RFID Factory" in Hall 22.1 can experience close-up how conflicts on the loading ramp can be minimised with the use of RFID. Since 2009, innovative RFID solutions for the furniture process chain – from the producer to the logistics specialist to retail – have had their own forum at the supplier trade fair ZOW in Bad Salzuflen.
New furniture logistics has become a bone of contention between manufacturers and retailers. Timely and reliable deliveries are becoming ever rarer. The central bottleneck, the loading ramp, is where tempers regularly heat up: some people complain about delivery dates that are not adhered to, others about long wait times during unloading, too few free ramp spaces or lacking flexibility in the acceptance times. The increasing frequency with which smaller quantities are ordered is also resulting in more deliveries, thus exacerbating the trend. Is this an unresolvable problem? At ZOW, some practical solution approaches for a more efficient supply chain in the "furniture logistics" sector will be demonstrated. RFID technology plays a decisive role here.
Many problems can be solved with the use of RFID
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is electronic data exchange via radio-frequency electromagnetic fields for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking. Horst Koitka, CEO of Abaco GmbH, Löhne/Germany, and his partners are organising the extensive RFID presentation for ZOW 2013. In the more than 250 m2 of space devoted to this topic in Hall 22.1, visitors can trace the path of furniture packages along the entire supply chain – from supplier to industry and transport by the freight forwarder to retail. Different methods of incorporating transponders in workpieces will also be shown. At ZOW 2013, the "RFID Factory" team will focus on new topics in their presentations.
To prepare for the special "furniture logistics" subproject, Horst Koitka conducted a practical test and went "on tour" with a freight forwarder for several days. His conclusion: "There are many different problems in furniture logistics; there are many areas that need addressing here. However the conflicts directly at the much-cited 'hotspot ramp' can be solved with the use of RFID technology. We will present proof of this at ZOW."
Noticeable positive effect for furniture forwarders
According to Koitka, the prerequisite for success is the continuous use of RFID – from loading at the supplier and manufacturer to transport by the freight forwarder to unloading at the retailer's receiving department. This means that all packages from the supplier and manufacturer are provided with transponders from the start, which are integrated either on the front or on the packing slip on the product. During loading, the pieces run through a stationary or mobile gate or reading tunnel. Thanks to RFID technology, it is thus possible to get an automatic status message for each package. – Time-consuming manual scanning at each station is no longer necessary.
As part of the furniture supply chain, the freight forwarder not only has the task of bringing the goods to the retailer promptly, efficiently and cost-effectively; in addition, the driver must provide the packages to the retailer's receiving department picked and sorted on Corlettes. The supporting RFID technology can be integrated easily into the freight forwarder's workflows. The solution is a mobile RFID reader, which is mounted so that it is quasi-stationary in the cargo area of the lorry. "This simple measure makes the driver's work much easier", explains Koitka. "The reader ensures automatic unloading control at the furniture retailer, the driver has both hands free for the unloading. For commission-related unloading, the secured RFID delivery scanning minimises the risk of a mistaken unloading. A complicated loading list check and the time-consuming bar code scanning are no longer necessary, and the checking of Corlettes is also child's play for the driver thanks to RFID."
The software for the RFID reader provides the freight forwarder with the following features: detection of errors during unloading, support when searching for packages, automated return signal via UMTS, checking of the completeness of consignments and an electronic signature for confirmation. And: all data collected is available to the retailer and the manufacturer in real time.
Shorter periods of activity at the ramp
Koitka summarises the advantages of RFID use in furniture logistics this way: "RFID use results in a higher process speed during loading and unloading. It allows quick checking for completeness of the items and assists the driver in preparing consignments. Drivers and retail warehouse personnel agree more quickly, the ramp becomes available more quickly. This simplifies planning on both sides and reduces costs. At the same time, RFID ensures interface-spanning communication of the accumulated process data. It is communicated automatically to the ERP systems of the manufacturer and retailer. And: the RFID transponder on the package can even continue to be used for the retailer's internal logistics."
In the "RFID Factory" at ZOW, visitors can inform themselves in detail about the many possibilities for using this technology. Horst Koitka and his team will be on-site to answer all questions relating to the optimisation of process flows in the furniture sector.
From 18-21 February, 2013, ZOW will become the showcase for new products and concepts from the supplier industry. Approximately 490 exhibitors and 13,500 top decision-makers are expected at the Bad Salzuflen Exhibition Centre. For current information about ZOW, visit:
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Source: Clarion Events Deutschland GmbH
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