OEM companies in the high-tech industry place high demands on their suppliers regarding the quality of packaging, to make sure their fragile and valuable components are delivered in perfect condition. In order to protect products, avoid defects and delivery problems, nowadays customers more oftenly specify in advance which packaging should be used. Because advanced packaging solutions are expensive, the use of durable returnable packaging (for multiple use) is recommended. However, this requires well-organized return logistics and insight into the whereabouts of all of your returnable packaging.
ASML’s logistical challenge
An optimal return logistics system for packaging was also a must and a challenge for high-tech giant ASML. The manufacturer of complex machines for the production of ICs and chips in the semiconductor industry was already using advanced packaging solutions, but the location and number packaging units in the logistics chain was not entirely clear. Not only did this result in higher costs, because they lost track of expensive packaging, but it also increased the risk of losing control of the process and delivery performance, because the right packaging might not always be available at the right time.
RFID as a solution for optimal pool management
A system with which the ‘packaging pool’ can always be monitored and managed in real-time, that was what ASML needed. Faes Packaging Concepts (FPC) and cooperation partner Improvement IT have helped them take on this challenge, by implementing RFID technology in their logistical process at the sites of their high-tech suppliers’. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a technology based on RFID chips and RFID ports. Packaging units with a unique chip are read by the ports that process this information, such as the number of units and the location. This way the right data is always available to them, whenever they need it.
Application of RFID in the supply chain
For OEM companies and their suppliers in high-tech, RFID can be a very effective solution, especially when the ‘RFID network’ extends beyond the organization itself and is also implemented at their cooperation partners. One example is KMWE; ASML’s component supplier. FPC was closely involved in the design of their new warehouse, to help them optimize their logistics process. This enabled them to manage the availability of packaging better and to anticipate changes more quickly. For example, when production decreases or increases. Moreover, KMWE saves valuable warehouse space, because FPC also takes care of the storage of their packaging stock. This allows KMWE to focus on their core business and on serving their clients entirely.