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Kuwaiti Car Dealership Streamlines Repair Service

Al Ghanim Automotive is using Zebra's RFID technology to improve customer service, document the repair process and save time.
By Rhea Wessel
Jun 24, 2009One of the world's largest General Motors dealerships and service centers, Al Ghanim Automotive in Kuwait, is using RFID to track cars that it moves from zone to zone inside the company's new multistory complex while the cars are being serviced.

Al Ghanim implemented the system, with the help of RFID systems integrator TagStone, when it moved into a large, new building and consolidated several car service centers into one, explained TagStone's director of product marketing, Reza Shibli, during the RFID Journal LIVE! Middle East conference held in Dubai last week. Before implementing RFID, Al Ghanim used pen and paper to track the movement of cars in its service centers. Now, in a service center that can accommodate more than 800 cars, the company relies on 2.4 GHz active RFID tags to keep an overview of the whereabouts of the vehicles and the status of repairs.

The automotive company came up with the idea and selected Dubai-based TagStone to implement the project. Shibli says the system uses more than 1,000 WhereTag IV active RFID tags and 100 WherePort tag exciters from Zebra Enterprise Solutions (ZES), a division of Zebra Technologies Corp. The WherePort exciters, deployed at various points throughout the facility, emit a magnetic field that triggers a WhereTag IV tag to transmit an alternate signal pattern, thus indicating that the car has arrived in a certain zone.

The active tags, which comply with the ISO 24730-2 real-time location standard (RTLS) standard, are mounted on plastic hangers that dangle from a car's rearview mirror. When a customer drives up to the service center, he is given the tag after an Al Ghanim employee scans the bar-coded number printed on the hanger and links that number in the database to the job card, which functions as work order. As the customer pulls his car forward toward a choice of lanes to drive into, the active tag transmits out its ID number, which is coupled with the hanger's bar-coded number in the system's database. Based on the tag signals triggered by the WherePort exciters installed in the area, the system determines the vehicle's location.

Once the reader has identified the car, a large LCD system displays instructions for customer, with an arrow directing the driver to a specific lane. The choice of lanes is determined by the system's business intelligence: Drivers of premium cars, like Hummers, may be directed to a VIP lane, for instance, said Rami Darwish, TagStone's vice president of sales and development.

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