- August 24, 2015
- noax Technologies Corp.
- Case Study
Industrial PCs ride around on forklifts to direct operators to the proper locations and allow activities to be entered directly on the touchscreen.
August 24, 2015 - Erdrich, a German-based automotive supplier, manufactures complex metal parts and subassemblies for the automotive industry. When, at its new plant in Dublin, GA, Erdrich received their warehouse shelving, parts bins, and forklifts and began populating the bins with inventory, they quickly began to realize that using pen and paper to track these movements to more than 180 bins (which will increase fourfold within the next year) would not be feasible.
Any time a forklift operator needed to move products from the line, relocate inventory, or prepare loads for shipment, they had to do it by hand. With the quantity of movements made each day, and the fact the product and bin location numbers were more than 10 digits long, it became easy to see that inefficiencies and the potential for errors were significant. After brainstorming potential solutions, Erdrich decided that a fixed-mount touchscreen industrial PC (IPC), that could direct operators to the proper locations and allow movements to be entered directly on the touchscreen, would be the ideal solution. Furthermore, Erdrich agreed that the IPC should be ruggedized with at least an IP65-rating which would allow for protection from metal dust and oil which is often present in the air. The IPC also needed to incorporate WLAN, so Erdrich could connect to their network, have sufficient performance to run SAP software, and enough interfaces to integrate their Datalogic barcode scanners.
After an initial conversation with the noax sales team, Erdrich was pleased to hear that all of their requirements could be met with the noax C12, a 12” IPC that was specifically engineered for mobile applications. Additionally, Erdrich liked the fact that despite being a German-based manufacturer, noax had a fully functioning sales, service, and support location in Charlotte, NC. “We were satisfied with pursuing the noax product offering once we learned there was also German-based support for our headquarters in Germany. When you are just coming online with a new facility, having the ability to get immediate support from any location is critical,” stated head of operations, Alex Kehrer.
Once the precise configuration had been chosen, noax offered Erdrich a demo IPC which was in stock and ready to ship. Within days of receiving the IPC, Erdrich had the unit configured and installed on one of their forklifts for real-world testing. “In our initial examination of the unit, we could tell that it was very well built and could easily withstand the conditions of our facility. What we didn’t know however, was whether or not it would have the performance needed to run our cloud-hosted SAP application and the ease-of-operation necessary for our forklift drivers to be able to interact with the touchscreen,” stated Kehrer.
After a week of testing the C12, the benefits became apparent. According to Erdrich’s Logistics Coordinator, Moises Sanchez, “Before noax, everything that I had to move, I had to write down. Then, I had to find an available computer on the plant floor to enter data. Normally this is not such a big deal, but when you have several people stopping to ask you questions, it can be time consuming. With the noax PC I can see where I need to go, scan and move parts, and then record the action in real-time… all from the seat of the cab.”
After weeks of testing, the decision was made to go with the noax C12 IPC. The C12’s two integrated 2.4 GHz antennas, Intel WLAN card offering a/b/g/n connectivity, and a dual-core processor allowed Erdrich’s SAP software to run smoothly and reliably for the duration of the testing. Additionally, Erdrich was impressed with the C12’s integrated optional uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system, which uses super-capacitors to stabilize power and prevent hard shutdowns to the IPC as a result of turning off the forklift ignition or changing the forklift battery. With the UPS preventing possible corruption to critical operating system files, or potential losses of data, Erdrich was confident that the noax IPC would be reliable over the long-term. According to Erdrich’s Purchasing Agent Hana Cerninova, “That was all we needed to hear. With noax, we found exactly what we needed. There was no reason to search further.”
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