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VW's Auto City Runs on RFID

As many as 700 customers daily pick up their new cars at Volkswagen's theme park, where workers use RFID to ready each vehicle and match it up with the right owner.
By Rhea Wessel
Identec Solutions claims the system has a 99.94 percent readability rate, meaning 99 percent of all attempts to read a tag are successful, and a 98 percent readability rate when considering potential human errors. If an i-PORT fails to read a tag at a station, the information will be read at the next stop."Volkswagen calls it a self-healing system," Michael says.

By using the system, Volkswagen has significantly reduced vehicle delivery speed, improving it by as much as four times. It can intervene if a car is behind schedule via the system's work-in-progress tracking and automatic status update. Sometimes, cars get behind schedule when unexpected repairs must be made—for instance, if a broken part must be replaced. In this case, the RFID system keeps track of the cars as they are being repaired.

By using Identec interrogators to read RFID tags placed in its cars, Volkswagen has greatly improved its predelivery process.

Altogether, the tracking system has reportedly simplified Volkswagen's predelivery process by eliminating the pen and paper method. It also enables Volkswagen to offer the on-site delivery service with as few as 600 employees (washing, waxing, tanking up, etc.). The system has improved the company's quality-control process by electronically gathering information on any required last-minute repairs. Not only did Volkswagen recoup the cost of its RFID investment within one year due to labor savings and higher productivity, it also increased the available space on its holding lot by 20 percent by moving cars through the system faster.

Gerald Gosemann, who oversees Volkswagen's entire predelivery process, would like to use the system to improve productivity. Ideally, he could manage the location of cars via the software by sending vehicles to those stations with excess capacity rather than focusing on getting all the cars ready at specific delivery times.

The next improvement planned for the RFID system is to add "traffic-light" management software utilizing red, yellow and green coding to alert managers about capacity and the progress of individual cars. Currently, managers access this data in spreadsheet form. In-house software expert Christoph Pelich designed the software to map out the location of a car visually.

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