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Iveco to Expand RFID System for Managing Replacement Parts

The truck and bus manufacturer is using EPC Gen 2 tags to process the receipt, picking and shipping of replacement parts, and to guarantee their authenticity.
By Rhea Wessel
When a customer places an order, the system generates a picking list, and a forklift driver uses a handheld bar-code scanner to retrieve the requested parts. The driver then moves the parts to a scale, to be weighed and identified by RFID. Iveco and Kuehne+Nagel opted against using the technology to pick goods from stacks on the warehouse floor, since the items must be weighed anyway before being shipped to a repair center, and stationary RFID interrogators could be installed on the scales. Once goods are identified and weighed on one of the four scales, the RFID system confirms that the proper items were picked. If not, then a new picking order is sent to the handheld bar-code scanner. Once proper picking has been confirmed, an RFID shipping label is generated, and the worker applies that label to the box—or, in some situations, to the parts themselves.

Next, the forklift operator loads the parts onto trucks, passing through a dock-door RFID portal, which reads the RFID shipping tag (the portal is instructed to search for only that particular tag, rather than those on parts or boxes of parts). A green light indicates the operator has placed the correct parts on the truck bed.

By the end of 2008, the RFID system was fully operational. Only two dock doors were outfitted with portal readers during the first phase of the project, in order to reduce expenses. The dock doors are used for goods shipped to southern Italy. The system's designers wanted to test dock-door portal readers, so they randomly chose two doors to outfit with RFID.

For parts headed to other regions, the company reads the RFID tags for the last time once the shipping label is attached. At the dock door, a worker reads the bar code on the label, and the system confirms that the correct goods are being sent to the proper locations.

During the next several weeks, Iveco plans to install interrogators at its facility in Madrid, so it can begin identifying tagged parts moved to that location from the Turin facility.

Additionally, Iveco is considering employing RFID to track parts in reverse logistics—that is, when a used engine must be returned to Iveco from repair shops for rebuilding.

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