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DaimlerChrysler Putting RFID Tags in Kanban Cards

The automaker plans to begin pilot RFID projects that will increase the visibility of parts at two of its German production sites.
By Jonathan Collins
Jun 07, 2006An RFID proof-of-concept project that added passive UHF inlays to existing kanban parts-management cards at a DaimlerChrysler production plant near Stuttgart, Germany, has paved the way for two pilot RFID deployments.

"[We determined] there is a lot of potential for RFID," Markus Beutel, program manager at DaimlerChrysler, told attendees last week during a presentation at German software company SAP's user conference in Paris.

DaimlerChrysler has looked into using RFID to improve the flow of parts from its own onsite storage "supermarket" to workstations on its production line. At its production sites in Unterturkheim, near Stuttgart, the company uses a kanban (just-in-time) manufacturing management system involving kanban cards—physical cards printed with text identifying a part and the production workstation where it was used—being taken from the workstations' parts storage bins when inventory is low.

The cards are then collected and transferred to the parts supermarket, where they constitute a parts order. Workers fill the order in the parts supermarket and deliver it to the required workstations on the production line. By adding RFID to the kanban cards used in the production management of the Autotronic transmissions (continuously variable automatic transmissions) for the Mercedes Benz A and B class cars at its Zuffenhausen plant, the automaker says it has determined that RFID is ready to be piloted at five of the seven plants in the Unterturkheim area.

DaimlerChrysler says the proof-of-concept trial at the Zuffenhausen plant showed that by providing a way for its SAP inventory management system to be automatically informed when parts are taken from storage and sent to production, the automaker can use RFID to track whether parts are in storage in the parts supermarket or being used on the production line. "It meant that we could know the location of parts in the supermarket or in assembly, which had not been possible to distinguish before," said Beutel.


Mika NAUMANEN 2006-06-09 12:41:04 AM
Key is a new antenna design DaimlerChrysler is using a fed folded antenna design in their RFID tags. This antenna type can be attached on any surface, while still maintaining the long reading distance. The antenna actually benefits from being mounted on a metal surface. The invention is cheap and simple to manufacture, no complex process steps are needed. Various cheap plastics (polyethylene, polystyrene) can be used as substrate material. This technology is originally from VTT (research institution). If you are a tag manufacturer, VTT is willing to license the technology on non-exclusive terms. if you are an end-user, we are willing to guide you to companies being able to manufacture these tags. For more information, please contact mika.naumanen (at) vtt.fi

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