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DaimlerChrysler Putting RFID Tags in Kanban Cards
The automaker plans to begin pilot RFID projects that will increase the visibility of parts at two of its German production sites.
Jun 07, 2006—An RFID proof-of-concept project that added passive UHF inlays to existing kanban parts-management cards at a DaimlerChrysler production plant near Stuttgart, Germany, has paved the way for two pilot RFID deployments.
"[We determined] there is a lot of potential for RFID," Markus Beutel, program manager at DaimlerChrysler, told attendees last week during a presentation at German software company SAP's user conference in Paris.
DaimlerChrysler has looked into using RFID to improve the flow of parts from its own onsite storage "supermarket" to workstations on its production line. At its production sites in Unterturkheim, near Stuttgart, the company uses a kanban (just-in-time) manufacturing management system involving kanban cards—physical cards printed with text identifying a part and the production workstation where it was used—being taken from the workstations' parts storage bins when inventory is low.
The cards are then collected and transferred to the parts supermarket, where they constitute a parts order. Workers fill the order in the parts supermarket and deliver it to the required workstations on the production line. By adding RFID to the kanban cards used in the production management of the Autotronic transmissions (continuously variable automatic transmissions) for the Mercedes Benz A and B class cars at its Zuffenhausen plant, the automaker says it has determined that RFID is ready to be piloted at five of the seven plants in the Unterturkheim area.
DaimlerChrysler says the proof-of-concept trial at the Zuffenhausen plant showed that by providing a way for its SAP inventory management system to be automatically informed when parts are taken from storage and sent to production, the automaker can use RFID to track whether parts are in storage in the parts supermarket or being used on the production line. "It meant that we could know the location of parts in the supermarket or in assembly, which had not been possible to distinguish before," said Beutel.
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