Warehouse pioneers new technology

Norwich Park Mine has received international recognition for its pioneering work in applying Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to warehouse control and parts management.

Norwich Park Mine has received international recognition for its pioneering work in applying Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to warehouse control and parts management.

After winning a High Commendation at the Australian Supply Logistics Awards, Norwich Park Warehouse Manager, Shane Hellwege, was invited to share BMA’s experiences at the “Put RFID to Work” conference in Las Vegas.

Although still relatively new technology, most people would have already seen RFID in action, probably without realising it.

“The security tags placed on clothing in large department stores are all monitored by RFID,” Shane said.

“And the automatic lock and unlock functions on your car door remote uses another version of the same technology.”

The Norwich Park Mine warehouse RFID solution works with three separate identity tags — one embedded in employees’ hard hats, a printable smart label attached to paperwork orders and one attached to each item stored at the warehouse.

When an employee walks through the portals at the warehouse, the system automatically logs into SAP and records the employee’s name, the work order number on the paper work they are carrying and the actual item taken.

It will also automatically re-order more parts if existing stocks are low.

The system has been in place at the Norwich Park warehouse for just over a year and saves time and frustration especially for tradespeople who may need to return to the warehouse many times during a shift for different parts.

“Under the old system, they had to log into SAP, manually enter the work order number, find the part number, then log the item out each time,” Shane said.

However, the biggest benefit of RFID is that Norwich Park Mine can now maintain an accurate inventory.

“This means that we have the right spare part or piece of equipment on hand when it is needed,” Shane explained.”

This article was first published in BMAG (Issue 35, May/June 2008) – a bi-monthly publication published by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.

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