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RFID Finds Buses for Blue Bird at Manufacturing Site

The global bus maker has installed an active RFID system from GuardRFID that locates buses as they move through finishing processes following assembly, and as they leave the facility for sale.
By Claire Swedberg

As the assembled bus is driven around the facility, the tags emit a signal that is captured by the readers. "Depending on where within the yard the vehicle is located," Walker explains, "granularity of location can be from 30 to 180 feet. When granularity is 30 feet, the system knows where a bus is located within about three parking spaces. In the more remote lots, fewer readers are deployed and location is less granular."

In some cases, the company may require greater granularity, or a worker may need to retrieve a bus but might be unable to find its specific location, even with the AllGuard software information. In such a scenario, the employee can use the golf cart equipped with a GuardRFID exciter and a touch screen that displays read data. As he or she drives through the area in which the RFID system indicates the bus is located, the reader on the golf cart will seek the specific tag transmission. Once it receives that transmission, it displays the results on the screen so that the driver knows he or she has reached the intended bus.

Matt Walker
"GuardRFID developed this golf cart system specifically for us," Walker states. "The tags are programmed to beacon every ten minutes when motionless, and every 12 seconds when in motion." The solution also consists of a GuardRFID reader and an exciter at the exit gate, to alert users to any tags not removed prior to bus delivery. If that hasn't happened, the tag will respond to the exciter, thereby prompting an alert for gate personnel that a tagged vehicle is leaving the yard.

In some cases, buses are delivered to an outside vendor for processing. After a bus leaves through the gate, Walker says, workers can set the "tag in motion" alarm for the vehicle's tag. When the bus returns, the tag immediately sends a notification so that Blue Bird knows one of its tagged buses has returned. In the future, Blue Bird intends to use the RFID tags to monitor work-in-progress completion during the off-line manufacturing process, by installing additional readers and exciters at processing buildings and in other areas.

"The results of the initial deployment indicated that many hours of labor time were saved," Walker says. "When we put this system in, I had a lot of people coming to shake my hand and thank me. Finding buses was difficult for staff members who were onsite during the week, and it was especially challenging for weekend workers who entered the site with no idea where the buses were located. The system saves time for those workers."

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