When Permasteelisa North America (PNA) couldn’t find RFID tags that worked reliably on the all-metal-and-glass curtain walls of their multimillion-dollar project, they turned to Vizinex.
Permasteelisa is a global contractor that engineers, manufactures and installs architectural envelopes–building exteriors and the interior systems that support them. In 2016, they were working on a high-visibility structure next to Grand Central Station in Manhattan, New York and struggling to find RFID tags for the facade that would meet their specifications and actually function.
While RFID wasn’t new to the company, they had never tried to incorporate it into a project on a scale of this magnitude. A single building can have upwards of 10,000 curtain wall panels of varying sizes and materials, and each panel unit can have approximately 200 parts.
RFID would enable them to identify the facade elements securely. Just scan a unit and:
- Know the exact location of every panel
- Access the bill of materials
- Link decades of inspection records
- Track unique maintenance requirements and warranties
For five months, the U.S. team tried countless varieties of tag and technologies including samples of a tag the company was using in Germany. But nothing worked reliably. They were down to the wire and almost out of time to implement RFID at all.
“Our product is all metal and glass and we wanted to put the chip where it could be read but not seen,” said Bob Skowyra, senior supply chain and logistics manager at Permasteelisa. “We knew what end result we wanted but were facing real difficulties. We just couldn’t find the exact fit, we were tired of talking to salespeople and we were running out of time.”
That’s when Permasteelisa’s regional IT manager Martin Novotny went looking for a local supplier and discovered Vizinex.
The Solution: Expertise, Flexibility, Collaboration
“We originally looked at a larger company, but they offered zero flexibility to make changes to their product,” recalled Novotny. “Vizinex was extremely knowledgeable, could deliver the quantities we needed at the right price point, and were very collaborative. Plus, our timeline didn’t scare them.”
Novotny met with the team at Vizinex to talk through their goals and challenges to date. Then created a mockup build of one of the panels and coordinated with Vizinex where they proceeded to trial a number of possible solutions that would work for the project’s specific use case.
When Permasteelisa ran their tests, they were pleased with the results and gave Vizinex the green light. The tags were delivered on time to meet all Permasteelisa’s requirements and they functioned as expected.
“Vizinex was willing to do custom mockups, their lead time and price point were fantastic, and their customer experience was great. But the most important thing was they were very proactive and interested in helping us problem solve,” said Skowyra.
While successful installation of the tags effectively marks the end of Vizinex’s direct involvement, the impact of a custom RFID solution that is the right fit lasts for decades.
Once Permasteelisa turns over a building it could be years before they need to access data. When that time comes, however, the speed and accuracy of information recall are critical.
If 8 years after a project ends, paint is peeling or a piece of glass fails, they need to know the unit it was installed in, the sub-components, who the vendors were and what the inspection records show.
Permasteelisa also gives extensive warranties for the building envelopes so they, in turn, negotiate warranties with their suppliers. But those warranties vary widely making it incredibly complicated to keep track of all the information.
Without RFID, they would have to sort through reams and reams of paper or piles of electronic documentation on everything from fabrication lines to purchase orders.
“One panel costs thousands and we’re hanging 10,000 of those. To be able to go back and know the exact location of the unit and have all the data at our fingertips gives us an edge over the competition,” said Skowyra.
Permasteelisa has even developed a proprietary modeling system that will allow them to efficiently manage all their data related to their products on a building and RFID plays an integral part in making it possible.
“Vizinex was looking to help solve our problems not just sell a tag,” said Novotny. “And they succeeded.”
Vizinex RFID was also featured in RFID Journal for panels tracking for Permasteelisa. Read the full story here.
If you have a challenging RFID tag application, contact us today and realize the benefits of Vizinex RFID.