Image credit: CoreRFID
IoT technologies have a way of weaving their way into unexpected places and finding a home in niche markets. That’s exactly what’s happening in the carpet industry as multiple domestic and international manufacturers representing both market share leaders and high-end specialists are adding sensors for everything from security to operational efficiencies.
Looking first in the United States, where carpet covers almost 40 percent of floors in American homes, the most prolific carpet manufacturers are located in the southeast. Carpet giant Mohawk Industries, based in Calhoun, GA, stands out as a recognized industry leader and a long-time user of IoT.
In the manufacturer’s Summerville plant, the production line is outfitted with sensors and devices connected through an industrial Cisco switch that delivers detailed real-time production data to a data warehouse. Plant managers receive alerts about any problems on the production line from an automated system that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning. Those alerts and data from the thousands of sensors are important resources for plant managers. In fact, the insights and data-driven decisions have improved employee productivity by 12 percent and a single plant has realized $1 million in savings.
Preventing Theft while Improving Inventory Management
Traveling beyond U.S. borders to Morocco, luxury rug maker ARTCO partnered with MERIT to integrate RFID tags with SAP Business One, a business management software designed for small and mid-sized businesses. ARTCO’s goal for the RFID project is to automate multiple processes around security and inventory management.
The tags have been a huge help in preventing theft. When a carpet is sold to a customer, an RFID reader scans the carpet and sends the details to SAP Business One where the delivery document and serial numbers are recorded. The purchased rug is also added to a list of items authorized to leave the store. This new process ensures that only authorized rugs can leave the store without triggering an alarm in the showroom’s doorway.
The RFID sensors also automate inventory management at ARTCO. All new carpets are given operation codes. When a new carpet enters the warehouse, it is automatically compared to information in SAP Business One. The staff relies on the sensor data to match, track, and count inventory in production and in warehouses. Like Mohawk, ARTCO has also realized multiple benefits, including an increase in productivity, minimized data entry, and the automation of the time-consuming work of tracking stock.
Image credit: SAP
Sensors Spin Out Bobbin Data
Next up in the global carpet tour, Northern Ireland’s Ulster Carpets has placed sensors on all its bobbins. Ulster Carpets wanted a better method for weaving its threads into its hugely popular carpets that decorate the world’s most prestigious hotels, casinos, and cruise liners.
Before the elegant carpets reach their new homes, they are manufactured at the state-of-the-art Dyehouse and Energy Center. The process starts with dying the yarn to meet specific color requirements. Next, the yarn is wound on individual bobbins and placed on the loom. Like every manufacturer, speed and accuracy on the floor are critical for Ulster Carpets to save both time and money. An ongoing problem, though, was that bobbins would run out of yarn, slowing production, as the loom had to be stopped and the bobbin replaced.
A major time loss for employees was tracking yarn colors on the empty bobbins. During the manufacturing process, the spinning loom would remove the bobbin’s identification labels. Ulster Carpets worked with CoreRFID to place sensors on each of the bobbins.
Using RFID, Ulster Carpet stores bobbin and yarn information in a database so that staff can quickly identify and locate the correct replacement bobbin to keep production going. Tracking the bobbins with RFID has streamlined production and reduced time-consuming and costly errors. Ulster Carpets has been so pleased with the automated system that it has ordered 10,000 additional RFID tags from CoreRFID.