Shop at the factory: immediate boarding for 4.0 industry connected with labels

E-Label for Manufacturing

Since decades a dream exists in several businesses, which is to achieve a paperless process. It is the origin of digitalization to remove paper-based activities wherever possible, to rely on digitalized information.

In addition to this now businesses have identified decarbonization as a key parameter to act with social responsibility while performing globally.

Nevertheless, process steps still rely partially on paper documentation, especially in the manufacturing environment. In the process of producing within a plant, information is essential but often very localized and short-lived: related to an order, at a stage of the manufacturing cycle or the status of a device. Information does not necessarily need be recorded, only to be presented in the right place at the right time and to the right person.
For this, ordinary paper is used in all its forms: sheets, slips, labels ... you need to update, check, scratch, scribble, then move, transmit, display, peel off, degrade...

Instead of this unsatisfactory support, the e-label offers an attractive alternative at the price of some minor adaptations: implementing technologies for transmitting information via industrial systems or management, hardening the support to withstand the rigors of a production environment.

Established in Retail for years…

If you think of your own experience in the retail space, e-labels are already common today, displaying the relevant information and interacting with back-end processes, offering the consumer actual information – in this case pricing - while allowing staff to organize with less effort and enabling additional warehousing use cases.
All in all, no paper needed.

Benefits for retail

  • Time savings
  • Reduced paper consumption
  • Adjustment of prices within seconds
  • Time/season based pricing
  • Additional information can be shown

And if you think of a simple example of reducing the value added taxes in Germany during the Covid-19 pandemic, you can directly visualize the benefits.

What if this experience would be transferred into the Manufacturing sector?


Is a paperless factory possible with e-label???

We have developed a ready to go solution offering smart use cases to the manufacturing industry, which can be integrated in an agile manner, delivering benefits right from the beginning. This technology merges wireless data exchange, e-paper display and NFC/QR code to provide relevant real-time information on the factory floor. Integrating IoT technologies can easily improve social distancing, stock management and overall operational effectiveness and efficiency.

Starting at goods receipt, trolleys/container of goods can be equipped with e-labels. Positioning-information of goods can be aligned between backend systems and e-label. Current information are available on the e-label right from the beginning, avoiding paper at the start of the manufacturing process.

  • trolleys/container will be equipped with label
  • parts/products will be stored in the trolleys
  • material status will be displayed on the label of the trolley
  • label get the status from a MES system

The attached label may then end up wherever the paper is used and where it would be appropriate to replace it. It may be fixed (in a machine) or mobile (on a container).
It can provide useful information for operators in the performance of their tasks, such as in-process vehicle number associated with kitting (all parts for this vehicle), or counting the turnaround time a repair on equipment. Equipped with a LED, it easily allows the pick-to-light and put-to-light, the identification of misplaced items or alert on an expiration date for example. The information is transmitted on a 868/915 MHz radio frequency to avoid interference with WiFi or Bluetooth networks, and drive long distances, even through concrete walls. The possibilities are endless.

Process-automation of processes

Next to paper-reduction, automation of processes is an ongoing exercise in every parts of the business. Automation can be achieved in several ways. One way is to update data on e-label connected with container of goods in real-time, independent from the position in the factory. Another way is to trigger tasks or whole processes directly by acting with e-label automatically or by manually pushing the labels’ button.

Imagine you need more pieces of a specific product at the production line. You push the button on the label assigned to this product to trigger an automatic process that includes:

    • Sending a message of the demand to the warehouse
    • Automatic processing of all related actions in an ERP system including a possible new order of these parts from the vendor
    • Highlighting the product in the warehouse for easy pick-up through the LED on the label assigned to the product in the warehouse
    • Reduced paper consumption
    • Increased automation
    • Time savings
    • More efficient processes


How to enter the world of e-label and how to scale?

Benefits are generated directly with the first steps. Implementing small use cases and training staff in handling tasks in a paperless way is easy.

This first positive experience with this technology will allow to scale in several parts of the factory directly.

  • Low investment for PoC
  • Fast implementation
  • Measurable benefits
  • One implementation at multiple use-cases
  • Robustness:
    • Performs automatic environment and configuration check
    • Automatically handles middleware execution and digital displays incidents
  • Scalability:
    • Unified API that can handle up to 10,000 digital displays without any changes
    • Unified approach to process on linedata stream to update displays on demand
  • Modularity:
    • Handles different use cases (data files, templates, rules) with minimal configurations

E-label can then be introduced step by step..

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About Johannes Thomas
Global Portfolio Manager IIoT, AI & Analytics (B&PS)
Johannes Thomas is responsible for Atos IoT projects in Germany and for the IoT, AI & analytics portfolio globally. He is focused on IoT and innovative technologies for more than 5 years. During this time, he supported customers in all industries in Germany and worldwide to identify opportunities enabled by IoT during their digital transformation process.

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