Fully integrated RFID environment is a reality at Oxford and a model for the market

Oxford is the only company in its industry to implement the system six years ago; the company’s operation doubled in size, mainly because of the possibility of launching products and virtually eliminating reverse logistics

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What is it about Oxford that makes it number one in the Americas in porcelain and ceramics and number three in the world? Sure. very high-quality products. But there is a whole technological structure behind these products. Oxford is Brazil’s only company in its field to be full RFID (radio frequency identification system) and count on the total integration of systems and solutions. Behind a DNA guided by 'simplicity' and 'trouble-free', there is a lot of embedded technology, many embraced challenges, and a new mindset incorporated into management.  

At the end of 2014, when Oxford was approached by Parson Tecnologia, at the time a startup focused on the development and deployment of RFID and IoT solutions, a journey with no turning point began and that would culminate in going from 180,000 boxes in stock per month to the current 500,000 boxes per month, all tagged with Beontag RFID tags.   

The promise Marcelo Correa, Oxford's Logistics Manager, made to convince the board to approve the investment was 'simple' in a way the company likes: 1-year payback. Thereby, in early 2015, Oxford embarked on two significant changes that would help fulfill its plan to double the company size every five years. Alongside the adoption of the RFID tag tracking system, the company also incorporated a new ERP. "We were lucky to implement both systems simultaneously. Since we had some issues with the new ERP, the RFID ran alone and made up for the technical issues of the other system," Marcelo recalls.  

Now, Beontag's RFID tags are used in Oxford's entire portfolio, consisting of shipping boxes for retail and boxes for the final consumer (gift sets). In practice, this means serving the 10,000 active retail customers in Brazil with 6,500 SKUs. In the beginning of the project, the customer base was 5,000 and the portfolio was comprised of 2,500 SKUs.   

"The RFID system was deployed at the right time to support Oxford's growth. With the system, we have reduced to practically zero the box assembly errors, ensuring accuracy in the product delivery and the accounting measurements for balance sheet audits," celebrates Marcelo, Oxford’s Logistic Manager.  

As part of the project, Beontag developed specific labels for Oxford, which can be used on both cardboard and wooden boxes. "The most interesting thing about this project is that the identification is at the box level, the so-called 'box level identification'.   

And although the packaging materials - cardboard and wood - are considered 'easy' for the RFID tag to work, the box scanning takes place on the pallet. We are talking about a volume of up to more than 100 boxes scanned at a time, reaching up to 350 boxes per pallet, with some labels facing the inside of the pallet," says Roger Davanso, New RFID Business Manager at Beontag.   

To overcome all the possible obstacles to scan the boxes, Beontag provides Oxford with a specially designed RFID label, which ensures total accuracy to scan boxes of different sizes and arranged in different quantities and positions on the pallet, including brand Strauss porcelain and crystal products, each unit receives an individual RFID identification tag. 

Quality and safety in all stages  

According to Roberto Cordeiro, at Parson, Oxford's project was divided into two stages: first, tagging the boxes so that all of them would pass through the entry doorway to the stock, or between packaging and stock, and it would be possible to guarantee that customers would not receive mixed pallets and/or wrong product quantities.  

The second step was precisely the installation of a new doorway for shipping invoices. "Now, the products are separated in the warehouse and, when they go through this second doorway, we have a guarantee that the invoice is in full compliance with the order." 

Therefore, the RFID system also helped to eliminate the previously common reverse logistics, due to errors in the shipped cargo. The cost reduction was significant and important to Oxford, since they were responsible for picking up and transporting the returned goods. This reduction on its own was responsible for the payback of the investment in 1 year. 

Ricardo Monteiro, also a partner at Parson, mentions that the positive impulse the RFID technology had on Oxford's stock visibility became very clear, which, in addition to the already mentioned benefits, will enable much faster and more accurate inventories, along with the reduction of customer stock-outs.  

Parson's integrated solutions and Beontag's RFID tags are used in Oxford's three plants in Brazil (two in Santa Catarina and one in Espírito Santo), and in its two own Distribution Centers. About a year ago, the company was at the forefront again and installed a mobile scanning cage to proceed with the cyclical inventory, now integrated with WMS. 

Products by Oxford, whose manufacturing is outsourced to another country, also receive Beontag’s RFID tags. In this case, the labels are serialized in Brazil and sent, ready to be attached by the third-party company.   

And did the market always like and approve that full-RFID concept? "Since the implementation of the RFID system, we were not praised personally, but we received several calls from customers who wanted to better understand the system and asked how they could adopt it in their operations. This curiosity, associated with the growth figures and the cost reduction, proves that we are on the right track," says Marcelo Correa.   

In fact, he likes to emphasize that this is a point of no return. "The technology evolution is as continuous as their applications. The constant search for excellence, focused on the use of technology to ensure quality and safety in all stages of the various processes, is what will continue to ensure Oxford's growth and success. This safety also gives us support for the continuous expansion of the product portfolio," he adds.  

Now, according to Marcelo, when business and marketing departments meet to discuss new products, the industrial department guarantees that any operational complexity can be solved with technology and the right partners. "In other words, we can create, invent and grow, because we no longer have logistical bottlenecks."  

About the partnership between Oxford, Parson and Beontag, initiated more than six years ago, Marcelo defines it as “something that is simple and solves the problem”. "Since the beginning, we understood that everyone was aligned to a single purpose: to offer an uncomplicated solution that would not mean harder work to us and would optimize the entire operation."  

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