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RF Code, Vehnet Offer Solution for Managing Assembled Vehicles, Components

Designed for use by car manufacturers, the system consists of RF Code active tags and readers, handheld computers with GPS units, and Vehnet software.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 01, 2013

Vehnet, a UK-based IT company focused on automotive logistics, has partnered with RF Code to offer a radio frequency identification solution for automobile manufacturers and logistics firms to track finished vehicles prior to their shipment to customers. The solution, which combines Vehnet's vehicle- and asset-tracking software and RF Code's active RFID tags and readers and Zone Manager software, is also being used to monitor components' location and status prior to their assembly into a car or truck.

The solution is designed to provide users with an affordable active RFID solution, the company explains—by locating vehicles within a specific zone, rather than providing more granular location data, requiring a large network of readers—and enables Vehnet's software to determine the vehicle's status according to that location information. The software can then provide management data related to workflow, such as the planning of finishing work and shipping, according to that status.

Steve Jones, Vehnet's managing director

Vehnet provides software for tracking and managing equipment and vehicles at manufacturing sites and storage yards. The firm has spent the past eight or nine years testing automatic-identification technology to make it easier for customers to locate their vehicles within storage yards and workshops, according to Steve Jones, Vehnet's managing director. Finished vehicles can often be stored within a manufacturer's yard containing tens of thousands of similar cars or trucks, while each vehicle has features specific to particular customers. Locating a given vehicle manually can be very time-consuming, Jones reports. However, he adds, that is still the method employed by most automotive companies and their logistics providers, though others utilize a technology such as bar-coding.

Increasingly, the industry is seeking more efficient operations in which, in some cases, a vehicle can be built to order and then be moved directly from the assembly line to the shipping area. If, however, a car's location is unavailable to management or those on the assembly floor, its status may not be clear, and it may thus be moved several times—into storage, for example, and back out again—when it could have simply been loaded onto a trailer or train and then shipped.

Vehnet's Advance software is designed to enable automotive manufacturers to manage their product inventory, provide information regarding each item's location and status at the factory and in the yard, and track shipments to other sites. Although the Advance suite can be used to build a yard plan to identify where particular products should be kept, and provide operation management as the vehicles are stored or shipped, it cannot provide the location data required to view where those cars are located at any given time.

While seeking a method to obtain location data automatically, Vehnet looked into the use of bar-code labels and scanners, passive and active RFID tags with fixed or handheld readers, and combinations of auto-ID and GPS technologies. All of these alternatives, the firm notes, could provide location data that could be fed to Vehnet's own software platform.

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