Brazilian Biomecanica, a manufacturer of orthopedic prostheses, adopted iTag Etiquetas Inteligentes’ radiofrequency identification (RFID) technology in 2016, and “since then celebrates the decision every day”, as stated by Ricardo Brito, CEO and CMO of the company . According to the executive, the inventory of 140 thousand items in stock is the first example of the efficiency of processes with RFID. The counting process before RFID took 15 working days and with a hit rate of 80%. With RFID, the same task is done in a day with 99.9% accuracy.
In 2016, the first results of the Biomechanics success case were presented at RFID Journal LIVE, in Orlando, United States.
Brito points out that the benefit of having full visibility on the inventory brought gains that extend to the production line, since Biomechanics products are already born with RFID tags. “Smart tags are in the DNA of our products [in an analogy with the human genetic code], because they are inserted in raw materials and finished products”, points out the executive. “Now, we no longer produce any products that we think are not available: only those that are necessary, because we know everything we have in stock.”
Another powerful RFID benefit presented by Brito refers to the speed for picking the items in a given order. “Instead of three hours to find everything that was requested by a customer, we managed to carry out this separation task in a few minutes”, celebrates the executive, narrating that in 2015 he met Sérgio Gambim, iTag’s CEO, at the office of a supplier company RFID in Switzerland. “Thanks to the good business relationship we have generated, we have developed the successful RFID project in Biomechanics”.
Brito gave a video interview to Edson Perin, editor of the IoP Journal. Watch:
After almost three decades since its foundation, Biomecanica decided to be one of the pioneers in the world and to implement radio frequency identification (RFID) first in its shipping area, which made it possible to reduce a process with a total of four steps nine times .
The four phases (separation, checking, billing and shipping) were carried out item by item, manually, with barcode readers. So, to separate an order for 200 pieces, the whole process – from sorting to shipping – took around three hours of work. Today, with RFID, activities for a batch of the same size now require only 20 minutes.
After the implementation of RFID, three of the four stages of the shipping industry process were optimized. In the first phase, of separation, the gains were in the speed and accuracy of the items selected for each order, which brought reliability to the products available in stock.
In the second phase, the conference, the counting of the items of each order started to be carried out on a large scale, with a large number of products being read automatically and without the need for manipulation, item by item. The third phase, billing, was facilitated and streamlined due to the fact that the first two phases offer guarantees that 100% of the products collected are part of that order, thus avoiding delivery delays and creating tranquility for customers.
Another major change was in the sending of shipments, that is, in the dispatch of orders, which are now checked by RFID. The check between the order and what is being sent to customers takes place in this part of the process, in a booth with RFID readers. The booths are completely closed and the products of each order are placed inside them, where the reading antennas collect the EPC numbers (Electronic Product Code), GS1, each label and each item. Then, the information appears on a liquid crystal display, pointing out any flaws: as long as there are less products like more.
According to Gambim, iTag’s CEO, “there were two major challenges during the implementation. The first was the fact that the products are manufactured with metallic raw material, which causes interference in the signal read by the RFID antennas. The second challenge was the positioning of the antennas inside the cabin to allow the reading of 100% of the products manufactured by Biomecanica. The challenges have already been overcome by the teams dedicated to the implementation of the system.
The prospecting and decision to invest in RFID was taken by Biomecanica’s New Business Directorate. The implementation had the strategic support of the IT and Research and Development areas. Among the benefits obtained with the system, the company pointed out the optimization of the shipping process time, as the main, but not the only one.
Other gains were with the increase in the company’s daily invoicing capacity, which became proportional to the reduction of the processing time in the shipping area; reduction of the operational cost of the shipping area, with optimization of the productivity of each employee; reduction of personnel in the shipping area by 25%, in the first 90 days; increase in inventory count accuracy, which directly impacts the financial, fiscal, commercial and production departments.
In addition to the aforementioned gains, the implementation of RFID by Biomecanica allowed an increased security of the stock, allowing the purchasing sector to correctly program the acquisition of raw materials, as well as extend the current predictability to the manufacturing area.
Ensuring one of the pillars of the Health area that regulates manufacturing and commercial activities, that is, the total traceability of the products sold was also a good result of Biomecanica’s investment in RFID, which adds to reducing bureaucracy and reporting in the health system. management (ERP) of the company.
With the RFID solution, Biomecanica is avoiding human failures in separating and sending products to customers, has managed to eliminate complaints about missing items in shipments, and has gained a competitive advantage of the brand, coupled with cutting-edge technologies that guarantee origin and safety of the products. Finally, RFID reduced order fulfillment time, positively impacting the market, as well as allowing more orders to be leveraged in the commercial department.
“The main challenge in the Biomecanica project was the type of material to be read, as the entire product line contains 100% metal in its composition,” explained Gambim. In addition, we would have to read the items at various points in the process, which would make issues involving tag readings even more challenging ”.
As the various product models contain metal in their structure, after being invoiced and packaged, they are all mixed and packaged together, within the smallest possible volume due to the freight cost. “This was the main focus of iTAG”, adds Gambim. “Passing on to the customer the certainty that 100% of the reading of sealed items will be read is another achievement”.