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Atlanta Mercedes Dealership to Adopt RFID at New Location

The real-time location system is designed to reduce labor, help sales and service departments quickly locate specific vehicles and track how many times a particular vehicle has been test-driven.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jun 15, 2007Mercedes Benz dealership RBM of Atlanta is implementing an RFID-based real-time locating system (RTLS) at its newest location, opening this fall. The system, provided by MyDealerLot, is designed to help the dealership slash the time required to manage its inventory of at least 600 cars, while enabling sales associates to quickly find specific vehicles.

"For management, MyDealerLot is a great inventory-tracking tool," says Randy Powell, RBM's general manager. The MyDealerLot system, being installed now at the new location (RBM of Atlanta–North), will be integrated with RBM's data management server, from ADP, and a key-management system for storing and controlling car keys, created by KEYper Systems. Powell says the dealership is adding the system "so we can track a vehicle from the time it is released to us by the vehicle manufacturer, its location on our lot, how often it has moved—and, with the integrated key control, who moved it—and, very importantly, if it is not on our lot."

MyDealerLot RTLS leverages AeroScout active T2 tags and other hardware and software, integrated with MyDealerLot's hosted software and database application, which provides inventory management, sales data, reporting and other functions. The tags will be attached to each car, transmitting 2.4 GHz signals that can be received and processed by standard wireless access points (802.11b/g). Built-in motion sensors can detect a car's movement and activate the tags in response, causing them to transmit their ID numbers to AeroScout Location Receivers. The receivers process location measurements, then communicate that data, via 802.11, to the AeroScout Engine software, which performs further location calculations.

The receivers and engine measure tag locations using time distance of arrival (TDOA) technology, says Joshua Slobin, AeroScout's director of marketing, which works better in outdoor environments than a similar location technology called received signal strength indication (RSSI). RSSI, which AeroScout also supports, is better suited for indoor use.

"Basically," Slobin explains, "RSSI measures the strength of a signal over the distance of the tag sending out that signal, and an access point picking up that signal. Because the signal can travel a greater distance and the strength changes over time, it is very hard to measure, in wide-open areas, the differences of strength of signal. Whereas with time distance of arrival, time is linear, and it is measuring the time it takes for a signal to get from point A to point B."

"With so many [automobile] models, colors and options," says Powell, "MyDealerLot allows a sales consultant to quickly drill down—with a few clicks of a mouse—through our inventory, find the vehicle that matches the customer's specifications and know where to find it on our eight-acre site. This not only enhances the customer's perception of the sales consultant's professionalism, it also enhances the consultant's confidence. It can make a big difference."

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