Tracking Architectural Glass Assets with Barcodes and UWB

 

WISER’s asset tracking system helps to reduce workloads, prevent loss, and simplify asset management. It does so by wirelessly tracking material locations in real time and logging their movement histories. This is particularly valuable in settings where assets can easily be misplaced or mixed up, such as in architectural glass factories.

 
Workers manually inspecting a sheet of glass.

THE PROBLEM: LOOK-ALIKE ASSETS

Keeping track of moving parts is tricky for nearly every manufacturer. This becomes even more complex when manufacturing architectural glass. Because most sheets of glass look nearly identical to others, finding just the right piece can be laborious and time-consuming.

One glass manufacturer addresses this with barcoding systems. This lets the manufacturer uniquely identify each sheet by materials, size, or other key information without having to measure the individual sheet when moving or shipping it. The problem is that barcodes require manual scanning, and workers might have to scan dozens or even hundreds of look-alike pieces to find the specific sheet needed.

This gets even more complex when specific panes are assigned to customized frames and specific work orders. Also, many sheets of glass will be stored for long periods of time before being shipped with matching frames, which could make finding them even more complicated in large or busy facilities.

Even after spending an enormous amount of time searching, glass manufacturers often have to recut individual panes when the correct piece cannot be located in time. Every minute spent delaying a project is also a minute withheld from the next task, so capital costs stack up very quickly when workers can’t find the right pane for delivery.

THE SOLUTION: WISER’S ASSET TRACKING SYSTEM + BARCODES

WISER’s asset tracking system can locate tagged items within inches even in cluttered or reflective manufacturing settings. To use WISER’s system most effectively, one glass manufacturer paired it with an existing barcode solution, connecting the tracked tag on a table, cart, or buggy with inexpensive barcodes on specific sheets of glass.

When the manufacturer cuts a sheet of glass, a worker barcodes the glass at the end of the conveyor belt. The barcoded glass then passes over a stationary barcode scanner as workers place it into a container, such as a WISER-tagged cart. When the scanner detects each barcode, WISER’s software pairs each with the identity of the tag on the cart. So, in essence, each WISER tag begins autonomously accounting for all the scanned sheets of glass on the cart, until they are scanned again to discontinue the association. This allows floor-workers and supervisors to know both the location of the glass and the real-time, physical coordinates of the cart carrying it.

WISER’s software displays these coordinates on a map or floorplan of the facility. WISER’s location data can also be used to pair tag coordinates directly with inventory or fulfillment systems. It does so without interfering with barcode scanners or other wireless devices in the factory.

THE RESULTS: REDUCED MANUAL SCANNING AND ASSET LOSS

This hybrid real-time location system (RTLS) lets manufacturers locate panes of glass almost instantaneously. Searching for a lost item can be done visually, using a map or floorplan. It can also be as simple as typing the ID of the associated WISER tag.

Because this system cuts massive amounts of time spent searching for product, it allows the manufacturer to deliver more completed shipments. Manufacturers can detect a cart arriving at the wrong location—or simply failing to arrive on time. It also provides granular histories of the locations of each individual component, showing where items have moved, how long each step of the process takes, and where there might be room to improve performance. This data, which can be delivered as real-time alerts and notifications, helps ensure that projects never need to be rushed or repeated.