Aeronautics industry supplier Lauak Group is reaping big rewards in its warehousing operations thanks to a new asset-tracking system from technology companies Ineo-Sense and Semtech. The French manufacturer, which supplies components and assemblies to some of world’s largest airplane manufacturers, has cut leadtimes, reduced downtime, and improved workflow at its assembly plant in Southwest France thanks to 14,000 asset-tracking sensors that monitor product movement across multiple buildings and warehouses. The results are so good, Lauak and its technology partners are preparing to roll out the solution to other facilities across Europe and in Canada, India, and Mexico within the next year, company leaders say.
COLLABORATIVE TECHNOLOGY IMPROVES RESULTS
France-based Ineo-Sense and California-based Semtech work together to develop cloud-based wireless technology solutions for a wide range of applications. Ineo-Sense specializes in intelligent and autonomous sensors for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, and Semtech supplies semiconductors and advanced algorithms for use in IoT, data center, and mobility applications. Together, they have developed a set of solutions called Clover-Core that combine Ineo-Sense sensors with Semtech’s “LoRa” technology, a long-range, low-power wireless platform, to track and monitor assets in real time. Clover-Core was developed for smart asset-tracking in industrial plants but is also finding its way into manufacturing, including in the aviation and automotive sectors.
Working with customers like Lauak that deal with expensive parts that are hard to track in a large facility makes perfect sense, the companies explain.
“Clover-Core sensors in manufacturing help deliver real-time zone-based inventory by locating and tracking tooling racks and packages,” Ineo-Sense and Semtech wrote in a statement describing the project. “Often, these assets are expensive to replace and difficult to find in a large warehouse, especially when they are out of the process flow or in the wrong part of the building.”
In Lauak’s case, tooling and packages make their way through the facility via containers that are outfitted with Clover-Core sensors. The sensors monitor the products throughout their journey, wirelessly communicating data to the cloud, where managers can access and track the assets in real time. One of the system’s key differentiators is its long-range, wide-area network (LoRaWAN) technology, which allows for easy tracking of items both indoors and out. This stands in contrast to indoor, short-range networking technologies that offer limited tracking capabilities, the companies explain.
GOING HIGHER-TECH YIELDS BIG SAVINGS
Integrating sensors and IoT for asset tracking marks a huge step forward for Lauak Group. Prior to implementing the Clover-Core solution, the company used a less efficient asset-tracking system that utilized bar-code scanning and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.
“Part of the problem with this system was that it required a significant amount of manual intervention, bringing an additional risk of human error and forgetfulness,” Ineo-Sense and Semtech officials explain.
In contrast, the LoRaWAN system saves time with its automated inventory and geolocation services, allowing remote data collection and a less “hands-on” approach.
“With automated inventory and synchronization between sites, divisions, and even countries, savings add up substantially,” Ineo-Sense and Semtech also point out.
Benefits of the new system are already adding up. Lauak Group says it has reduced production leadtimes by up to 20% and downtime by at least 10% since implementing Clover-Core. Workflow has been optimized, and access to reliable real-time data is helping the company more quickly address any inventory issues or problems that arise. Indoor localization by zone immediately flags misplaced items, and on-demand tracking instantly locates a piece of equipment, in both large buildings and outdoors.
The end result? Continuous improvements on the shop floor, all three companies say.