Making a Difference in Trilliott’s Tracking System at Schaeffler

When it comes to tracking solutions in manufacturing environments, RFID inlays are mainly judged by range and performance – traditional strengths of Tageos’ products. Trilliott relied on these advantages and used Tageos EOS-500 inlays in its successful dunnage tracking solution for Schaeffler.

As a leading global supplier to the automotive and industrial sectors, the Schaeffler Group has been driving forward groundbreaking innovations and developments in the fields of motion and mobility for over 70 years. The challenges the current market presents to Schaeffler are delivery issues, rising costs, and demand volatility – all of which impact operations due to invisible inventory, loss of assets, and labor-intensive processes.

The cost of excess material inventory is an important performance metric. But if inventory is drawn too low, stock-outs kill production efficiency. Even with a state-of-the-art ERP system, manual processes and high fulfillment velocity pose challenges for sustainable inventory reduction initiatives. Hence, Schaeffler wanted a holistic solution to provide material visibility across its supply chain, in its warehouses, and at its suppliers.

The road to RFID-based dunnage tracking

Back in 2018, the automotive supplier started to work on a solution in cooperation with Trilliott, an RFID-first supply chain and warehouse management software company. As a system integrator, Trilliott began with demos and trials that quickly garnered management support and plans for a roll-out began. In mid-2020 planning accelerated when Schaeffler received a customer mandate for tote tracking. Schaeffler opted to use its Dunnage Tracking System to comply. By August 2020, the project was in full production – and soon attracted attention among industry experts when it received the “Best RFID/IoT Implementation in Supply Chain/Logistics Finalist Award” at RFID Journal LIVE! 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Making the right decisions

In the early phase of the project, both partners opted to pursue a mobile scanner strategy to minimize time and cost. After substantial field testing of software, tag solutions, mobile scanners and fixed readers for tag acquisition, Schaeffler deployed the AsReader ASR-L251G RAIN RFID mobile scanner in addition to smartphones and the Trilliott SmartSITE™ Capture app. That combination proved to be both affordable and quick to install and is powered by the cloud for easy access to analytics.

For the tag solution, Trilliott had chosen the Tageos EOS-500 RAIN RFID product. It is optimized for supply chain and asset management applications and has proven to work flawlessly with the selected reader and software infrastructure. “In challenging industrial environments like the ones we and Schaeffler are used to operating in, the requirements for RFID tags are quite different from those that apply in the retail segment. For Schaeffler’s dunnage tracking solution, reliability, read range and overall performance are key. EOS-500 inlays from our long-time partner Tageos delivered, and really make a difference in these areas,” said Trilliott’s Founder and CEO, Booth Kalmbach.

Confirming the results

Apart from internal testing, the proper functioning of Trilliott's solution was confirmed by a fortunate coincidence. As mentioned above, a key Schaeffler customer issued a tote tracking mandate to its suppliers just as the Dunnage Tracking System was ready for field trial. The Schaeffler and Trilliott team met the customer mandate in just six weeks and began tracking the customer’s totes, including implementing an automated data exchange from the Trilliott Database of Things to the customer’s tracking system. This allowed the Schaeffler team to compare internal tracking results to the customer's tracking results to verify overall accuracy.

Reaping the benefits

“For a manufacturer like Schaeffler, the difference between full inbound totes and empty outbound totes is the most accurate measure of material consumption possible today,” summarized Booth Kalmbach. Besides providing that measure, the Schaeffler Dunnage Tracking System is bringing real-time visibility of inventory, increased efficiency and machine uptime, lower operational costs, and improved customer delivery performance. According to Trilliott’s CEO, the system in the long term transforms the supply chain value stream by building digital assets – a claim in perfect accordance with Tageos’ approach “to enable RFID-based product digitization for businesses today, and for generations to come.”

Partner Profile: Trilliott

Based in Raleigh, NC (USA), Trilliott specializes in supply chain, warehouse, and asset management solutions to control large numbers of high-value, high-demand assets and inventory. Trilliott SmartSITE™ is an RFID-first supply chain, warehouse and asset management service for businesses to digitize high-value, high-demand inventory and assets, improve accuracy and control, secure and analyze transactions, and manage asset lifecycle.