Black & Decker teams with Cisco for IoT manufacturing
Powertool manufacturer Black & Decker turned to Cisco to provide an internet of things (IoT) solution that increases visibility and decreases complexity in one of the largest tool manufacturing plants in Mexico.
If you have partaken in any home or auto DIY projects, you have probably gotten your hands on a piece of Black & Decker equipment. You may have even used a tool the corporation’s Dewalt brand. A significant percentage of that brand’s North American products are made by workers in the Reynosa, Mexico, manufacturing plant. The 500,000-square-foot facility produces everything from hammer drills to planters using a vertically integrated production arrangement.
The factory outputs dozens of different products, and has 40 multi-product manufacturing lines with hundreds of workers making millions of products every year.
Maintaining and enhancing that manufacturing process is no easy task, but has potentially huge rewards.
A Cisco solution
To reap those rewards, Black & Decker reached out to Cisco for wireless connectivity, and to Aeroscout Industrial for its enterprise visibility solutions. Black & Decker deployed a real-time location system (RTLS) in the form of Wi-Fi RFID tags that attach to nearly every material, so that tracking them becomes nearly effortless.
Cisco’s United Wireless Network isn’t new to Black & Decker – the company has been relying on the network for decades. But with the addition of Aeroscout’s RFID tags, it is able to take advantage of the established network using Cisco access points to offer mobile access to production line information through plant floor managers’ tablets and smartphones.
Aeroscout’s Wi-Fi tags integrate with the company’s Programmable Logic Controller, which monitors quality control and delivers its results once the product reaches the end of the line. This allows floor managers visibility at every step of the production process, giving them the ability to slow down or speed up processes, and see how quickly employees are completing their respective tasks.
“The RTLS solution helps us maintain throughput in the line, which allows us to hit our production targets on time,” said Mike Amaya, plant manager at Reynosa Operations. “Any bottlenecks in material flow immediately get identified and addressed.”
The plant achieved an estimated 10% greater labor efficiency and better use of labor critical resources, which improved utilization rates from 80% to 90%. It also resulted in quality improvements with first-time pass defects per million opportunities, or DPMO, reduced by 16%.
We now have products and machines talking to the internet, and we are able to monitor and control production almost automatically.” Amaya said. “Supervisors can now react more quickly because they get notifications of issues much earlier. The improved visibility means you can look at trends and material flow and fix any issues in the middle of the shift.”
The RFID tags and Cisco wireless network increased overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by 24%, and Black & Decker estimates significant cost saving for each line in the plant.
“Our plans for the future are to expand the Aeroscot Cisco solution throughout the rest of this facility and ultimately throughout the rest of the facilities globally to bring products and services to the customers when they want it, when they need it,” said Nick DeSimon, vice president of operations at Dewalt.