Rockwell Automation Inc. has opened a new radio frequency identification (RFID) test laboratory at the company’s global headquarters in Milwaukee. The lab is designed to help manufacturers who are facing production and inventory mandates from retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., to understand how they can make RFID technology an integral part of their distribution operations.
“RFID will fundamentally change supply chain management and the way industry tracks, traces and manages the products that are delivered to retailers and consumers,” says Sujeet Chand, Rockwell Automation’s chief technology officer. “With this lab, we’re helping manufacturers look beyond the current, short-term mandates, and understand how they can integrate RFID as a tool for improving future manufacturing efficiencies and distribution.”
The Rockwell Automation RFID test lab replicates situations that are designed to help manufacturers capture detailed, real-time information that drives line production and synchronizes supply-chain tracking and tracing. The lab combines existing Rockwell expertise with a simulated factory environment to allow accurate testing and evaluation of a wide variety of RFID products, the company says. Additionally, Rockwell Automation test lab engineers offer visitors advice on the best methods for leveraging RFID-gathered data to improve factory efficiency and productivity.
Simulating a factory conveyor, packaging station and dock door, the Rockwell test lab currently incorporates the company’s own products as well as elements from Alien Technology Corp., ConnecTerra Inc., FKI Logistex, SAMSys Technologies Inc. and Zebra Technologies Corp. to help test and integrate RFID technology in distribution centers and factories.