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Porsche Uses RFID to Track Prototype Testing, Improve Security

The car manufacturer is tracking which components are installed in its prototype vehicles, and is monitoring the cars' locations to reduce their chances of being seen by unauthorized parties.
By Claire Swedberg

The system is also being used to track the prototypes themselves. When a prototype car leaves the facility, it is critical that the company verify the vehicle's removal is authorized, and to know how long it is gone. In this way, Porsche hopes to reduce the chances that others outside the firm would be able to view the prototype. The company had required drivers go through a process of filling out paperwork and speaking with employees at the gate in order to obtain permission to leave the facility and drive on public roads, but with the noFilis RFID solution, the system is now automated. Each vehicle has a tag containing a unique ID number on its windshield. As the car approaches the gate, a Kathrein reader installed at that location captures the tag's ID number. The CrossTalk software, residing on Porsche's back-end server, forwards that data to the car company's own management software. If the vehicle is authorized to leave, CrossTalk stores the time of departure. When the vehicle returns, the same process takes place, thereby permitting the driver to re-enter the facility, while creating a record of how long the car remained outside the premises.

Security is necessary not only outside the facility, but also within its internal, open driving area. Therefore, the company needs to know when vehicles leave covered parking areas and are outside in the yard or on test drives. A Kathrein reader mounted at each parking area's entrance and exit captures the prototype's windshield tag ID, and CrossTalk stores data indicating how long the vehicle remains outside the covered area.

noFilis' Patrick Hartmann
Engines must also be carefully guarded as they are put through the testing process, and Porsche has, therefore, been using RFID in an area known as the Test Bench. The car maker installed RFID tags in the pallets on which prototype engines are mounted, and also installed a Kathrein reader beneath each of its 20 test bench stations. In addition, the firm attaches a variety of tags to components installed in the engines. Tagging catalytic converters poses a special challenge, Grabscheit adds, due to the extreme high temperatures they can reach. To address that problem, the company places a small metal shield between the tag and the converter itself, in order to protect the tag from the heat.

The station then puts the engine through a series of tests, the results of which are stored in the company's software. The CrossTalk software links the pallet's tag ID and the multiple tagged components to a specific engine prototype, and when the station reader interrogates the tag IDs, it links them with the testing underway. Moreover, the tagged pallets ensure that workers know a specific engine's exact location at any given time, such as in the warehouse before being tested.

The next phase of the prototype management system rollout will involve the use of a variety of sensors to link a prototype's performance with that vehicle's ID and location. In this case, the system will integrate an onboard unit that includes GPS and GPRS technologies. The unit captures sensor information, such as engine temperature, ignition or window status, tire pressure or the vehicle's speed, and forwards that information, along with the GPS-based location data, to the CrossTalk software via the GPRS network.

USER COMMENTS

Paul Drolshagen 2015-03-02 10:51:30 AM
That is indeed a nice application where RFID can show its potential. The floor antennas are supplied by IdentPro (available in ETSI only). Visit www.identpro.de.

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