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DaimlerChrysler Looks to RFID's Future

The automaker sees open standards as key to achieving its vision of collaborating with the wider supply network.
By Rhea Wessel
Nov 13, 2006At the RFID Journal LIVE Europe 2006 conference, held last month in Amsterdam, DaimlerChrysler updated attendees on its RFID activities, as well as its perspective on how the lack of industry standards is hampering its ability to incorporate RFID throughout the supply chain.

DaimlerChrysler has been utilizing RFID for in-house applications for a long time, said Roya Ulrich, who is responsible for a group that is drafting DaimlerChrysler's RFID policy and strategy. However, Ulrich added, "Our vision is to use the technology beyond our core business processes in automation across the supply chain."

One major stumbling block to deploying the technology throughout a company's entire supply chain has been a lack of agreement regarding which industry standards to use to provide a common understanding of processes, as well as a clear specification of data structures on RFID tags. "The recommendation inside the company is to use common open standards [EPC Gen 2/ISO 18000-6C hardware and software] to avoid island solutions," she explained, "and to embrace interoperability within applications."

According to Ulrich, the need for global standards allowing applications to communicate with the wider supply network will be absolutely essential if DaimlerChrysler is to achieve the business benefits it seeks. The automaker is actively helping drive the global standardization process toward achieving more cohesive and collaborative implementations via participation in various discussion forums.

RFID's benefits, Ulrich said, include bringing together business and technology processes. To this end, DaimlerChrysler has conducted such proof-of-concept tests as using RFID for parts-management in a June 2006 pilot, conducted at a plant near Stuttgart (see DaimlerChrysler Putting RFID Tags in Kanban Cards). Presently, the company is testing an RFID-based container-management system at its Sindelfingen plant. The test was designed to evaluate handheld, gate and forklift RFID interrogators (vs. bar code scanners) to see if data quality could be improved without increasing labor costs. The test commenced at the beginning of October and is scheduled to last until the end of January.

To date, DaimlerChrysler has implemented RFID applications in Germany, Detroit, Tuscaloosa and Mexico. Ulrich expects the company to continue testing the technology in the future.
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