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					   Global Conference on
   Sustainable Product Development
   and Life Cycle Engineering                                                                                                                                                                                        Cambridge Auto-ID Labs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     University of Cambridge
    September 29th – October 1st, 2004                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Anand Kulkarni

                                        Networked RFID Systems in Product Recovery Management
                             Research Problem                                                                                                               Who we are                                                                                                    EPC Network in Product Recovery Decisions

Product recovery management is complicated due to the uncertainty                          The Auto-ID Labs is a federation of research universities that has evolved from the Auto-ID                                                                   When a product is returned by its user, there are several ways by which value can be
in product returns in terms of quantity, quality, type, and timing. This                   Center, initially founded in 1999 to develop an open standard architecture for creating                                                                       recovered from it – the product can be reused as is, reused after remanufacturing, recycled
uncertainty arises due to the lack of information associated with                          a seamless global network of physical objects. Funded in part by the EAN.UCC, governments,                                                                    to recover its material contents, or incinerated for energy recovery. The choice of
returned products. Many companies find that the acquisition of                              and industry, Auto-ID Labs is based at the Center's same six leading universities worldwide                                                                  appropriate product recovery decision greatly depends upon the availability of relevant
information required to make various decisions during product                              -MIT, University of Cambridge, University of Adelaide, Keio University, Fudan University, and                                                                 product information during the decision-making process. In the case of products that are
recovery is problematic. The required data is not available due to the                     University of St. Gallen. Each with distinct interests and capabilities, but linked by the                                                                    apparently valuable, this information is collected by performing extensive inspection and
progressive loss of product information throughout its lifecycle as                        common vision of an "Internet of things," we continue to research and develop new                                                                             testing (see figure 2). This information gathering process is labour intensive and time
shown in figure 1.                                                                         technologies and applications for revolutionising global commerce and providing previously                                                                    consuming which causes delays in recovering the value from returned products.
                                                                                           un-realisable consumer benefits. The Cambridge Auto-ID Labs is based at the Cambridge                                                                                                                                                              BRAND, MODEL,
                                                                                           University Engineering Department. The labs focuses on core research in the EPC Network                                                                                                                    TYPE
                                                          A ero engines, Caterpillar,...                                                                                                                                                                                                  BOOK-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BOOK-                             PRE-
                                                                                           and providing technical and educational services.                                                                                                                                  PRODUCT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           PRODUCT        SORTING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SORTING                  PRODUCT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PRODUCT           DISMANTLE/SHRED
                                                          Photocopiers, Automobiles,...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         VISUAL CHECK
              High                                        Toasters, Blenders,...                                                                                                                                                                                                              VISUAL CHECK                               BARCODE

                                                                                                                                      EPC Network Building Blocks                                                                                                                                                                        EXPERT OPINION
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         COMPANY GUIDELINES

       Information                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              PRODUCT
      with product
                                                                                            1. Tags and Readers                                                               2. The Electronic Product Code (EPC)                                                                            FEATURES,
                                                                                            Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a                                        The aim of the EPC is to provide an unique                                                  IDENTIFICATION
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           IDENTIFICATION      PRODUCT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              TESTING         PRODUCT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          GRADING       PRODUCT
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                PRODUCT                        PRODUCT
                                                                                            key technology enabling automatic                                                 identifier for each object. The EPC is a                                                                   VISUAL CHECK
                                                                       Resale                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             VISUAL CHECK          EXPERT OPINION
                                                                                            reading multiple objects simultaneously,                                          number which is stored in tags and the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         EXPERT OPINION
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         HISTORY LOGBOOK                  EXPERT OPINION        COMPANY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         PRODUCT MANUAL                   HISTORY LOGBOOK       GUIDELINES              DISASSEMBLE
                                                                       Disposal             without requiring scanning of each                                                associated information is stored in the                                                                    MANUFACTURER HOTLINE             TESTING RIGS

               L ow P r o d u c t i o n R etail  Consumer
                                        Product lifecycle stage                             individual object. RFID tag stores the EPC                                        networked database (EPCIS)                                                                                                                  SUB-ASSEMBLIES, COMPONENTS

                                                                                            code of each object which is read by a                                                                                                                                                           PRODUCT FLOW                      INFORMATION FLOW                    INFORMATION COLLECTION MECHANISM

                                        Figure 1                                            reader.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Figure 2
Frequently, the required data is scattered through out the company                                                                                                                                                                                       The EPC Network can bring two-fold benefits by providing product information in a timely
                                                                                                 Reader                                                  ~50mm
and across the companies in the supply chain network. Retrieving                                                                                                                Header       EPC Manager          Object Class         Serial Number     manner: (a) decision improvements – being able to make informed decisions in a timely
                                                                                                                                                                                 8 bits          28 bits              24 bits              36 bits
information from such network requires work of significant efforts and                                                                          Tag                            indicates       indicates            indicates          unique for each   manner, and (b) process improvements – being able to facilitate automation of disassembly
                                                                                                                                                                              partitioning     company            product -type          instance of
intervention of a number of people with various levels of competence.                               ~300mm               ~400mm                                                 scheme       (manufacturer)          (‘SKU’)              a product      processes, thus improving the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of product recovery
                                                                                                                                                                                  256         >268 million         > 16 million          > 68 billion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         operations. Furthermore, improved product recovery operations will result in increased
One solution for the management of information associated with                                                                                                                                                                                           amounts of reuse of products and components in future.
                                                                                           3. The EPC Information Service (EPCIS)                                             4. The Object Name Service (ONS)
products is the product-oriented approach. A product-oriented                              It is a networked database which stores                                            The ONS is used to convert an EPC of a
approach is the one by which information is maintained at the unique
item level and is updated as the product moves along the various
                                                                                           comprehensive data about manufacturer’s                                            product into the address of a server which                                         EPC Network in Remanufacturing Inventory Management
                                                                                            products.                                                                         has extensive information about the
stages of its lifecycle. This will enable decision support that handles                                                                                                       product.
the unique requirements of every single product.                                                        Storage of ‘EPC-related’ data                                                                                                                    Product remanufacturing involves disassembling a returned product to its constituent parts,
                                                                                                     Time stamped Attribute data
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         differentiating between serviceable parts and scrap, and using a combination of serviceable
A recent breakthrough in enabling affordable widespread global
                                                                                                        event data      (often static)                                                          EPC                         ONS                          parts and new parts to rebuild the product. An essential operational issue of remanufacturing
                                                                                                      Observations Attributes defined
deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the emergence                                 (Tag readings) at serial level                                                                                                                      is inventory management which involves planning of disassemblies (when, what and how
                                                                                                     Measurements Example: date of
of the so called “EPC Network”- essentially a networked RFID strategy-                                                                                                                                                                                   much to disassemble). These inventory planning decisions are complicated due to the lack
                                                                                                      (Sensor data) manufacture
as a means of providing such a product-oriented approach.                                                Symbolic Attributes defined                                                                                                                     of timely information associated with returned products.
                                                                                                         location    at product level                                                   EPCIS                     EPCIS                     EPCIS
                                                                                                           EPC -     Examples: mass,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Product Flow
                                                                                                                                                                                    Company A                 Company B                  Company C                                                 Grade I                                                                             Information Flow
                                                                                                     Transaction ID dimensions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Products (Q1)                                                                       Inventory
                                       Research Aim                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Preliminary quality                                           Detailed information
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Information obtained                                          about Products after
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     from EPC Network                                              testing
We are examining the role of ready availability of product information –                                                                      How EPC Network Works
as derived, for example, from the EPC Network – in product recovery                                                                                                                                                                                                Product                                                                                       Remanufacturing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Remanufacturing                      Demand
management. The EPC Network can play a crucial role in reducing the time                                                                                                                                                                                                   Check In
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Check In                                        Testing                                  Process
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Returns                                                                                          Process
delays in recovering value from the returned products by uniquely                                                                                                                      ONS
                                                                                                                                       1     E PC xyz                                                                                                                                                                                        Remanufacturable                                Finished
identifying a product throughout its lifecycle, monitoring and updating the                                                     “W h e r e c a n I f i n d i n f o r m a t i o n                                                                                                                                                             Inventory                                       Inventory
state of product as it moves along its lifecycle and providing the relevant                                                     about EPC xyz?”
                                                                                                                                                                     Dynamic ONS Registry
information in a timely fashion at the end-of-life stage for better                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Grade II                         Disposal
                                                                                                                        EPC xyz                                                                                                                                                                Products (Q2)
management of such products.
                                                                                             2 “T ell me date of sale”                                                                                                                                                                                                         Figure 3
The aim of this research is to provide quantitative assessment of the                                                                “2 0 0 1 - 0 5 - 1 0 1 4 : 3 7 : 1 5 ”                                                                              There appears to be a significant potential for the EPC Network to reduce inherent
value of information and co-ordination, enabled through the EPC Network,                                                                                                                                                                                 uncertainties in remanufacturing by providing relevant information in a timely fashion. As
                                                                                                                  E PCIS                                 E PCIS                                 E PCIS                              EPCIS
in product recovery management. The research aims to develop a general                                                                                                                                                                                   shown in figure 3 , products can be immediately pre-sorted into different categories based
research methodology to quantify the benefits of information, and                                                                                                                                                                                        on their preliminary quality information obtained from the EPC Network after check-in. Good
investigate economic and practical feasibility of the EPC Network in product                          Date of manufacture                            Date of sale                        O n- b o a r d d a t a      Parts/materials identified
                                                                                                      Parts/ materials used                                                              Usage history
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         quality products are prioritised for testing and remanufacturing. This will reduce time delays
recovery management. In this context, we are investigating the role of the                            (D i s ) a s s e m b l y r e c i p e
                                                                                                                                                     W arranty details
                                                                                                                                                                                         Parts installed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Disassembly history
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         in processing the returned products with high economic value leading to higher inventory
                                                                                                                                                     Parts replaced
EPC Network in:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          turns. Moreover, there will be less uncertainty about intrinsic condition of returned products
1. Product Recovery Decisions                                                                                                                                                                                                                            available on the shop floor. Therefore, manager can take better decisions about when to
2. Remanufacturing Inventory Management                                                                                                                    R etail                 U sage/M a i n t e n a n c e                   E n d -of -L ife       start testing and remanufacturing of returned products without stocking high inventory.
                                                                                                       M anufacture
Research Team                                                                              Contact Information                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Copyright Cambridge Auto-ID Labs @ 2004
Dr. Duncan McFarlane, Research Director                                                    Mail: Cambridge Auto-ID Labs                                   Tel: 0044-1223-764306
Dr. Mark Harrison, Associate Director                                                            Institute for Manufacturing                              E-Mail:
Ajith Kumar Parlikad, Doctoral Researcher                                                        University of Cambridge
Anand Kulkarni, Doctoral Researcher                                                              Mill Lane
                                                                                                 Cambridge CB2 1RX

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