A carpet manufacturer whose products are used on the ocean liner Queen Mary 2 is replacing the RFID tags which help control production at its Northern Ireland headquarters.
Ulster Carpets is the premier supplier of Axminster and Wilton carpets to the world market. The family-run firm, which employs 700 staff at its base in Portadown and offices worldwide, designs and manufactures bespoke products for some of the world’s leading casinos, cruise ships and hotels, including The Savoy in London.
At the company’s state-of-the-art Dyehouse and Energy Centre, yarn is dyed to meet the specific colour requirements of every individual carpet. The yarn is then wound on to individual bobbins and placed on the loom to be woven. In the past, each bobbin held the same length of yarn but, as some carpets used more of one particular colour, the loom had to be stopped to replace a bobbin, creating delays in the weaving process. The labels on each bobbin were also easily lost.
RFID technology plays an integral role in a system, introduced in 2008, that is more intuitive to the exacting requirements of each carpet being woven. The RFID tag on each individual bobbin provides essential information from Ulster’s database that is critical to the weaving process. This information can be accessed by staff using hand-held RFID scanners and has helped create a more streamlined system.
The success of the system and the company’s growth has led to a new order of 10,000 new tags from Skelmersdale CoreRFID.
Paul Richardson, yarn supply manager at Ulster Carpets, says: “We manufacture carpet for projects across the world so accuracy and speed are critical. Using RFID technology within our own state-of-the-art systems has enabled our business to create an efficient process that saves both time and money.”
Richard Harrison, technical sales director at CoreRFID, which installed the original system, says: “RFID is a simple and very cost-effective technology that offers a high return on investment. The products are already very resilient and can last for many years. The collaboration with Ulster Carpets shows how RFID can be integrated with existing IT systems to help manufacturers to achieve better control of production, reduce errors and improve quality and efficiency.”