Have you ever found a defect in one of your precast products and had to dig through hand-written records to figure out when it was cast, who cast it and what the mix design was?
Have you ever needed a piece you know is in your yard, but nobody has any idea where it is?
These little nuisances can add up and become a significant drain on your time and the time of your employees. Tracking quality control information by hand is a must for many plants, but the time investment to do so can be immense, and locating the data at a later date can be tedious.
Now imagine finding that same defect and instantly knowing all the pertinent quality control information, or pinpointing where a piece is in your yard – all without sifting through any paperwork.
Like retailers, precasters have an inventory of products to manage and track, and after shipment you are held accountable if the product is made wrong or has a defect. To help alleviate the time-consuming task, you should consider readily available technology to simplify the process.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are small chips that can be cast directly into precast concrete. The tags can be quickly programmed with important quality control, tracking and record-keeping information. At each step of the casting process, information can be sent to the chip. This allows supervisors to quickly identify the production date, who worked on each step of the production process, who approved it and mix design for any given piece. It also enables you to track what pieces have been made for complex projects.
Bar coding technology is another solution that can provide precasters with all the quality control information instantaneously, with nothing more than a handheld device. The durable, weather-resistant bar codes provide an inexpensive solution that can be easily installed and learned by employees in a short period of time. The bar codes track all pertinent data from the time the purchase order comes in until the product leaves your yard on a truck. In addition, bar codes help you manage your yard before product is shipped.
These technologies can also provide benefits to contractors. Many precast pieces that arrive on site can look similar but have slight variations. By using RFID tags or bar codes, contractors can easily identify specific pieces and ensure they are put into the proper positions.
Although both RFID tags and barcodes require an upfront cost and an added cost to each piece, the long-term savings can add up as these small additions can change the way plants conduct quality control and inventory processes in a big way.