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Messier-Dowty implements GS1 bar codes to track aircraft spares using PeopleVox barcode system

Press release June 2, 2010 IT

The company worked with PeopleVox to deploy a resilient and GS1 standards compliant barcode stock control solution integrating into Oracle, supporting the ordering and delivery processes of its spare parts. Almost 2 years on, never had any downtime.

Messier-Dowty, a world leader in the design, manufacture and support of aircraft landing gear systems, has implemented GS1 bar codes to pick and track spare part orders in its Gloucestershire operation. The company worked with PeopleVox, an accredited GS1 Solution Provider, to deploy a resilient and GS1 standards compliant stock control solution that supports the ordering and delivery processes of its spare parts. Wireless and mobile computing solutions were upgraded and deployed ensuring that GS1 bar codes were used in the operation to uniquely identify Messier-Dowty’s products.

Messier-Dowty, a Safran group company, designs, manufactures and supports aircraft landing gear systems from eight operating facilities in Europe, North America and Asia. The company’s Gloucestershire facility employs approximately 1,000 people, responsible for design, development, test, production, processing, assembly and in-service product support for its international customer base. The 44,000m² site is the company’s European Centre of Excellence for landing gear systems.

With demand increasing for its services, the company needed a more resilient asset management solution to support the spares ordering and delivery processes. Messier-Dowty also wanted to ensure that all the bar codes used to identify its products were GS1 standards compliant.

Buisness Challenge
In 2007/08, Messier-Dowty decided to focus on reducing spare part stock at its UK facility. This needed to be implemented without impacting the growing demand for its spares used to support global maintenance and manufacturing contracts. In the aircraft sector, it is vital that spare parts are dispatched as quickly as possible to prevent planes from being on the ground for longer than necessary.

Messier-Dowty installed additional large vertical revolving carousels in the warehouse used to store and pick orders to optimise the spares that needed to be stocked in the space available. However, the company realised that its existing systems and wireless infrastructure were unable to cope with increased stock management. It also needed to be upgraded to improve the accuracy and productivity of its operations. Messier-Dowty required a faster and more accurate mobile and wireless solution for picking spare parts from its carousels.

GS1 UK recommendations
In August 2008, PeopleVox was selected to carry out a full upgrade on the existing system. Messier-Dowty’s legacy DOS based handheld computers, used to scan and pick spare parts on the carousel, was replaced with the latest Motorola MC9090 gun. Warehouse staff scan the GS1 bar codes (containing GTINs or Global Trade Item Numbers) on spare part packaging or plastic container ‘tubs’ to pick the products for specific consignments and to update the company’s Oracle system for stock control, delivery and order processing. The upgraded scanners enable quicker and more accurate product scans when picking. This is critical to timely accurate delivery.

A Microsoft CE based system for the handheld scanners was also set up to ensure users were always online with wireless coverage, preventing data loss of completed product picks and scans. Bar code printers were deployed to enable Messier-Dowty staff to print their own product labels on demand at the point of activity.

The second phase of the project involved the installation of Motorola RFS6000 wireless switches at two separate locations with redundancy backup to prevent mobile handheld computers from losing connection in an unlikely event of a system failure caused by the primary wireless switch. The upgraded switches ensure the maximum performance and secure connection for the high bandwidth mobile network, positively impacting scan and pick productivity at the facility.

To ensure return on investment and allow for the potential integration of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems in the future, access ports with a high data capacity network were utilised to ensure connection between mobile devices and wireless LAN.

“It is vital that all the bar codes used in our operations strictly adhere to GS1 standards to ensure that the bar codes and labels can be designed, printed, applied to our products and read by our mobile handheld computers effectively.

We have been able to achieve high quality bar codes that enable us to track our orders accurately and meet the growing demand for our products and services.”
Craig Coleman, project leader at Messier-Dowty.

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