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Audi Launches RFID Deployment for Tracking Assembled Vehicles Worldwide

The carmaker has already installed the system at its Hungarian facility, enabling management to view where each car is in the finishing, storage and shipping processes, and reducing labor for drivers who locate and transport the vehicles.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 08, 2014

Automobile manufacturer Audi is preparing to install a radio frequency identification solution for tracking its newly manufactured vehicles through finish work and shipping, at multiple global factories, based on a template installation in use at its new Hungarian plant. The EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID system, provided by German RFID company noFilis, was taken live when Audi Hungaria Motor Kft. launched the production in Győr, Hungary, in June 2013. The system is now being used to track the finishing and inspection of the A3 sedans and A3 cabriolets that the plant produces, as well as the vehicles' outbound preparation and shipping.

The car company chose to create a template system at its new plant, where implementation would be easier than at factories that already have operational procedures in place for tracking vehicles. The manual systems typically employed at other plants require that drivers use paperwork to direct them through the finishing process, and that they exit the cars and scan bar codes at some locations as well, in order to create a record of their movements. This is not only labor-intensive, says Carsten Zimmer, Audi's project manager of information processes, but also provides limited visibility for management into where each vehicle is in the finishing and shipping processes.

At each station in the finishing area, an RFID reader captures the ID number of the vehicle's tag, thereby documenting which processes have been carried out.
Once an assembled vehicle has its wheels in place, it begins moving through what is called finishing work. A driver actually drives the car to each appropriate station, to the storage yard, and then onto a truck or train. At the Győr plant, 160,000 vehicles are currently being produced annually, though that number is expected to increase. The cars are stored within one of two lots: one dedicated to shipping by truck and another dedicated to train shipment. A third yard contains additional spaces intended for use as production increases and new models are launched.

NoFilis' Patrick Hartmann
Audi sought to eliminate paperwork and make the finishing, outbound-preparation and subsequent shipping processes more transparent and leaner.

Once a vehicle has been assembled, a UHF Smartrac DogBone tag with an Impinj Monza 4QT inlay is attached to the inside of the front bumper. An automated tag-commissioning process in the production line writes the vehicle identification number (VIN) to the tag, as well as another ID number used by assembly stations. In this way, even if the computer system or local network goes down, workers can continue to identify each vehicle in front of them via an RFID reader.

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