A collaboration between SICK and Coppernic leads to a reliable pallet tracking solution for a leader in glass packaging

Where exactly does this pallet need to go? This is a question often asked by forklift truck drivers during their daily work. An RFID solution from Coppernic and SICK in France provided the right answer for the forklift driver. The solution greatly simplifies pallet handling for the global market leader in glass packaging leading to greater productivity, higher quality, and easier work for the forklift driver.

The French company Coppernic is a manufacturer and integrator of professional, mobile solutions for the inspection, tracking, and safety of goods and people. Coppernic services several large business fields such as public transport, secure identification, access protection and delivers important added value for large industrial tracking related projects. Since the requirements of its customers vary greatly, all solutions are individually tailored to their needs.

One of the company's customers is a global market leader in glass manufacturing, and has been placing its trust in Coppernic since 2010 as part of an important project to reorganize the handling and tracking of pallets at its manufacturing location. The previous solution was a manual process with pen and paper that was unreliable and caused many problems. Coppernic then implemented a complete traceability solution based on UHF RFID technology, which ensures that the right pallet is always delivered to the right customer.

Why an RFID Solution?

The advantages of this technology are its reliability, stability, and resistance to extreme ambient conditions. Depending on the type, RFID technology supports multiple reading, writing, and saving of information. It is a mobile solution with real time data processing. The biggest advantage of this solution lies in its mobility. Compared to the traditional RFID product tracking portals, the complete equipment is mounted on the forklift truck and data processing occurs in real time as soon as the operator is at the wheel. This provides flexibility, agility, real time communication, and a clear optimization of the processes.

“You might think that RFID is really simple to implement. The most important thing, however, is to analyze the customer’s processes in his line of business in order to offer a pragmatic solution,” said Fabien Barry, Integration Engineer and Project Manager at Coppernic.

How does the RFID solution work?

Each pallet carries an RFID tag with the key information: contents, reference, recipient, etc. Depending on its load capacity, the forklift truck is equipped with up to four antennas that are connected to an RFID reader, as well as a tablet that delivers the required information to the forklift driver. When loading a pallet, the tag is read with the help of the RFID solution installed on the forklift. Through a direct connection to the company's information system, the operator is immediately provided with details about what needs to be done with this pallet. Then, they can either bring it to another storage location or to the order preparation area. Thus, inventory management is performed in real time. There are many advantages to this solution: greater productivity, a higher quality overall, and it makes the work of the forklift driver easier.

Need for a new partner

In 2017, Coppernic had to find a new supplier for the RFID equipment. The old supplier had discontinued production of the RFID system that Coppernic was using for its forklifts. This presented the company with difficulties because it was essential for it to maintain the same level of ruggedness and reliability of the installed solution. Durability and compatibility with the systems already implemented by Coppernic were important criteria in selecting a new partner. Emmanuel Renaud from SICK in France suggested to Barry at Coppernic that he consider an RFID solution from SICK. An RFU63x read/write device was then tested in a six-month-long benchmarking analysis. SICK already had an excellent reputation with Coppernic and the end customer in other divisions for its sensor technology. This was important in establishing trust for this critical application.

“If it wasn't for the good reputation of SICK, the end customer would not have considered the solution,” said Barry.

The RFU63x – the right RFID for the task

The RFU63x test was a big success and device was validated for use on-site. According to the application, the device has 4 connections for external antennas that are mounted on the boom of the forklift truck. Currently, 20 forklift trucks are in operation, 20 more have been ordered, and end customer is satisfied. For Coppernic, it was clearly the collaboration with SICK that had made the difference. SICK offered material availability, easy qualification, and problem-free commissioning. The end customer demanded a lot from Coppernic in its search for an exceptionally competitive solution – and SICK is always listening for customer needs. In the end, everyone was satisfied with the solution.

Want to learn more about RFID solutions? Contact a SICK representative today!