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RFID-based Automotive Network Project Achieves Its Goals
Some project partners, including Bosch, plan to take the results of the RAN project into the operational phase.
Upon receiving the pallet, Opel stores it within its warehouse until production time. At that point, a worker picks the parts and places the RFID-enabled kanban card on the stretch-wrap into an RFID-enabled mailbox, and the tag is then interrogated. The information is transmitted to the Bosch test repository in the data format defined by RAN: the EPCIS-based Automotive Business Vocabulary (ABV). The booking in the system tells Bosch to replenish the part, and the solution can also be used if the automaker needs to make a quick change to its production plan. This element of the application has already been rolled out, and currently remains in operation.
Bosch tested further methods for tracking the parts as part of the RAN project. The test included sending data about rails—another part of the common rail system—to Opel, instead of just to Bosch. RFID tags were placed on a protective cap on the rails, and were interrogated using handheld or gate readers at the end of Bosch's production line, as well as during packaging, when the product was loaded for transport at Bosch, when the parts were received at Opel and before assembly at Opel.
"We're working to develop this test more," Müller says.
In addition, Bosch is working to track individual parts used in OEM prototypes. "We will be able to tag prototypes, collect data about them and send information about the products based on the RAN standards and RAN platforms. We will be able to do this by early 2013," Müller states. "This will be one of our first applications in production that is enabled by the results of the RAN project." He adds, "Honestly, we've just started. We've got a long way to go. The potential is enormous."
Automakers have expressed interest in tracking at the part level, so that they can more easily conduct quality checks at the end of the production line. The automakers would be able to quickly determine if all parts have been mounted, as well as which custom-ordered parts were inside a vehicle, and that information could improve after-sales service, including maintenance.
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