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Dolphin RFID Solutions Manage Vehicle Parking, Identify Missing Car Parts

The new solutions are designed for tracking the locations of vehicles at manufacturing sites or parking lots, and for preventing the theft of parts from rental cars.
By Claire Swedberg
May 06, 2015

Dolphin RFID has developed three new solutions that are intended to track cars in parking lots, ensure that no parts are swapped out of rental cars while they are out of the lot, and provide mustering visibility to ensure that all workers leave a building or worksite in the event of an emergency.

A solution known as Dolphin Vehicle Tracking & Valet Parking Solution (DVTVPS) has been trialed by an Indian truck manufacturer that has asked to remain unnamed. That company, located in the city of Pune, is now planning the timeline for a permanent deployment.

Suresh Sawhney
Dolphin developed DVTVPS as an alternative to a real-time location system (RTLS) that employs active RFID tags, since such a system can be expensive. The solution consists of a Star Venus passive Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tag that is attached to a truck's windshield, according to Suresh Sawhney, Dolphin RFID's president and CEO. A worker would tap an NFC-enabled Android smartphone against the tag prior to moving the vehicle after it has completed assembly. The Dolphin Mobile Asset Management System (DMAMS) smartphone app is designed to capture the tag's unique ID number and forward that data to Dolphin's Edge Wizard middleware (hosted on a cloud-based server), which would link the ID to information about the vehicle and where it should be stored. The Edge Wizard middleware would capture data from the company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, specific to the parking slot to which the vehicle is assigned. The app would then display the storage location so that the driver would know exactly where the truck needed to be parked.

Next, that individual would drive the truck to the indicated space, by following the app's driving directions. At that space, another NFC RFID tag (either Dolphin's DNFC-050 or DNFC-075) would be attached to a beam that runs in front of each parking space. The driver would tap the smartphone to the parking space tag, as well as to the windshield tag, in order to create a record on the server of where the vehicle has been parked.

For the DVTVPS trial involving the Indian truck manufacturer, the ERP system was not integrated with the Edge Wizard middleware to enable this function, but if the company proceeds with its deployment, that integration will be carried out to enable the app to instruct drivers where to take their vehicles. In the case of the trial, drivers tap the windshield and proceed to a parking space of their choosing. They then tap the tag at that space, as well as the one mounted on the truck's windshield, thereby creating a digital record indicating where the vehicle has been parked.

Dolphin has also developed an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF)-based Rental Car Asset Management (DRCAM) solution for car-rental agencies that is currently being tested by several businesses in Saudi Arabia. This solution, Sawhney says, enables the companies to better manage the parts on vehicles returned by customers.

The idea for the parts-tracking solution, Sawhney says, was sparked by a mistake that a rental agency in the United Kingdom made regarding his rental car contract a few years ago. After returning his vehicle, he later received a message from the agency claiming he had returned the car without a spare tire that it had previously contained. Sawhney told the agency that it was mistaken, and that he had never removed the tire. Although the confusion was eventually resolved, he says, it inspired him to consider options that would make it easier for agencies to track a vehicle's many parts. In the Middle East, especially, he says, agencies have indicated that they need help ensuring that customers do not remove any tires, batteries, alternators or other parts and replace them with older or lower-quality versions.

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