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RFID Halts Theft at Toronto Car Dealership

The luxury car retailer is using EPC Gen 2 RFID technology to track the keys to all of its vehicles, reducing the risk of lost keys and stolen vehicles.
By Claire Swedberg
To take a key, an employee presents the locked cabinet with an ID card containing a near-field EPC Gen 2 tag that is read by the same Impinj interrogator. The reader verifies that individual's authorization to remove keys, then unlocks the cabinet door. Data is transmitted to the back-end system via a LAN cabled connection, notifying the system who has taken which keys. Ship2save's operation management system (OMS) software uses the Microsoft BizTalk infrastructure on the dealership's back-end system. Each employee is authorized to take no more than a specified quantity of keys, and only for a limited period of time.

When a key is removed from the cabinet, the Web-based server, hosted by the dealership, is updated to show the key removed by a specific individual at the time and date it occurred. If the key is not returned to the cabinet at the appropriate time, or if more keys are removed than the number permitted, the Ship2save software instructs the system to send an alert to designated parties within the company.

Anoop Sharma
The dealership is currently utilizing the system only in one of its Toronto locations, but expects to expand it to eight more stores in the metropolitan area. In the future, Singh says, Ship2Save plans to provide a biometrics option with the key cabinet so employees would need to provide a thumbprint in addition to an ID card to unlock the cabinet, thereby providing an additional layer of security.

"It's a good fit—it's got a great business value," Singh says, adding, "The beauty of it is that because it is built on the Microsoft BizTalk infrastructure, it is fully scalable." Thus, one dealership with multiple locations could expand a single back-end system to operate each lot's key cabinet, or a single back-end system could be expanded for use by different dealerships. "We don't have to keep reinventing the system," Singh says.

Sharma says he intends to market the system across North America and elsewhere. Dealerships, he notes, as well as insurance companies, have shown an interest in the system installed at the Toronto dealership.

Another company that markets an RFID system for tracking car keys is Performance Analytics, based in Palo Alto, Calif. Bob Lewis Automotive Family, a car retailer in the San Francisco Bay area, uses Performance Analytics' KeyWhere system to automatically track test-drives, improve security and simplify key access for salespeople at its Volkswagen showroom in San Jose (see Car Dealership Finds RFID the Key to Increased Sales).

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