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Smart Products with RFID in the Product from Manufacturing to Recycling | Part 1

Use Cases | By PR RFID & Wireless IoT Global | 25 April 2016
Industry 4.0 Strategy is no "Mission impossible". Industry 4.0 Strategy is no "Mission impossible". Photo: Nokia Operations

A global Industry 4.0 strategy

Nokia Operations wants to set standards for smart products

Nothing less than a global standard which is easy to adapt – this is the objective for Nokias’ supply chain following the implementation of its carefully planned Industry 4.0 transition strategy. RFID technology takes a key role in this future concept. The experts in network infrastructure are certain that Industry 4.0 is only possible with a foundation of smart products. “RFID im Blick Global” talks with Claus Heller, Karl Kirschenhofer, and Jose Menendez about the steps that will bring added value to Nokia Operations and their customers. To achieve these ambitious goals, production processes demand more than one RFID label.

Karl Kirschenhofer, Vice President Manufacturing Operations, Jose Menendez, Head of Quality and Technology, and Claus Heller, Senior Quality Manager, Nokia Operations, in an interview with “RFID im Blick Global”

Smart products right from the beginning!

“In the future, each of Nokia’s products will have a passport at the circuit board level right from the start of production.” In this striking approach, Karl Kirschenhofer streamlines Nokia’s planned RFID use. The basic idea is to offer an end-to-end traceable product through the use of RFID in Nokia’s products. The RFID transponder will not only hold data related to the production process steps but logistics and customer service data will also be available throughout the product lifecycle. The transponder will be the ‘smart passport’ of each product.

The RFID technology itself is not revolutionary for Nokia; it has been used in production process automation for years. The new approach, however, is much broader and is currently being evaluated at Nokia production sites after a one-year planning phase. “Our roadmap stipulates the solution will be productively running in three plants by the end of 2016. At that time, it will then be rolled out gradually to our other locations,” Karl Kirschenhofer anticipates.

“Our RFID approach creates opportunities for many new business cases and services that we will offer our customers in order to optimise product life-cycle management.” - Jose Menendez, Head of Quality & Technology, Nokia Global Operations

The first step is embedded RFID

To obtain full RFID functionality at an early production stage, the Nokia supply chain is currently evaluating transponders which are integrated into the circuit board. Claus Heller explains: “The advantage of this approach is that we already have access to a smart product at the beginning of the supply chain, right at the start of the production process. From our current point of view, this is the best way to support a scalable approach. Labels or tag in product housings are more demanding in terms of ensuring clear readability in the production process. Embedded RFIDs, as in the textile industry, can also achieve a standard in the electronics industry. We can easily apply this standard in our plants around the world.”

Once the suitable RFID technology has been evaluated, Nokia will start analyzing the collected production data. “In 2017, we want to be able to optimize and control production automation and digitization on the basis of the collected data. The positive economies of scale make RFID a cost-effective technology,” says Karl Kirschenhofer . “All plants worldwide will have the same manufacturing standards and comparable process technologies which makes them easier to manage. We will be operating all production at the same high level. The rollout of an advanced RFID deployment along the entire supply chain can be done quickly.”

Zero mistakes strategy

“RFID will minimize potential error sources in production. Manufacturing will also become less dependent on manual interventions,” says Karl Kirschenhofer. He adds: “In order to follow the Smart Factory path consistently, manual product barcode scanning at the production line must be largely avoided.” Claus Heller, who mainly worked on RFID use on the circuit board level in Nokia’s supply chain, explains: “When a product autonomously identifies itself within the process flow via RFID, the specific work stations can also set themselves up autonomously. This will include equipment calibration checks and authorization staff. Calibration data will constantly be loaded into Nokia’s own factory cloud and will be compared with the products’ production schedule. If there is no feedback from the cloud, the process step cannot be executed. A powered screwdriver, for example, is not authorized for use when it has not been calibrated as scheduled or is incorrectly equipped. The electronic calibration certificate will be invalid.”

To realize a zero mistakes strategy becomes even more challenging with customized products and a large number of product variants, says Claus Heller. “We have to adjust our production lines two to three times per shift on average for different products and variants. This increases the number of potential error sources. We obtain accurate production production process data with RFID so that the probability of errors can be greatly reduced.” This increases the number of potential error sources. We obtain accurate production process data with RFID, so that the probability of errors can be greatly reduced.”

The big picture: a unique identifier

The RFID tag on each product‘s circuit board is not exclusively beneficial for manufacturing or internal logistics, explains Jose Menendez: “Our customers have high expectations from our products as the global telecommunications infrastructure sector is critical in terms of network maintenance”. Better service support to trace the product and its status is an additional option that will be made possible by the unique identifier instead of many different labels in products as today. “We already have numerous plans to add value for customers through different use cases based on the RFID tag on the circuit board. These studies will be continued once the evaluation of the technical feasibility project is completed,” says Jose Menendez.

In Part 2 Karl Kirschenhofer, Jose Menendez and Claus Heller describe how the future concept for the Nokia factory in 2020 looks like and which role RFID is going to play.

The complete article was published in the April 2016 issue of "RFID im Blick global".

Last modified on Thursday, 12 May 2016 12:37
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