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RFID Drives Efficiency for Kia Vehicle Finishing and Shipment

U.K. logistics provider Paragon Automotive is using passive UHF RFID tags to track the receipt, finishing, storage and shipment of cars at its workshops and outdoor storage compound.
By Claire Swedberg

At each workstation, a video screen informs the technician which particular services—such as changing or removing upholstery, or adding a tow bar or decals—needs to be carried out, so that he or she can provide the service required, sign off on that work and have the vehicle delivered to the next assigned location. "The system provides our Evolution platform with a constant feed of all vehicles located by the fixed readers," Higgins says, "which we take as an 'overlay' to the existing process-driven locations and human inputs."

"This aids us in exception tracking," Higgins says—for example, if a vehicle leaves a workshop but a technician has not yet signed off on the PDI tasks in the software. In such a case, the software can display an alert so that workers onsite can redirect the car as needed, before a mistake can be made.

Reader antennas, wired to Zebra Technologies FX Series RFID readers, are mounted alongside the entrances to Paragon's workshops.
To pinpoint the locations of vehicles within storage bays, as well as provide additional inventory checks, Paragon mounted RFID readers to the roof of a pickup truck that is frequently used throughout the outdoor compound. As the pickup moves around the outdoor storage areas, the readers capture the tag IDs of any cars located to either side of the truck, and that data is linked to the truck's GPS location and forwarded to the Evolution software via a Wi-Fi connection.

"This provides us with a 'last seen' date, time and GPS location for each unit," Higgins explains, "which we also access within our IT platform." The company has integrated the data with online open-source mapping software supplied by Mapbox to provide accurate location information in a graphical form. The company has deployed a new feature this month using the GPS data to show, on a map, which areas the truck has covered.

Finally, when cars are loaded onto trucks to be transported to dealers, Paragon utilizes two sets of fixed readers at different heights to read the tags as the delivery trucks pass through the facility gates. This read data is also captured and stored in the software, where it is checked against the orders to ensure that no mistakes are being made, and to confirm shipment for historical purposes.

Employees at the workshop also carry handheld readers linked via Bluetooth to their rugged Android-based devices, in order to access vehicle IDs when needed. The system helps Paragon ensure that errors are not made during storage, finishing work, inspection or shipping, Higgins says, and also saves labor hours that employees would otherwise have to spend conducting manual inventory counts or walking through the facility searching for a specific vehicle.

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