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Daimler Sees Potential Benefits of Using RFID to Track Quality-Control

Having completed several successful test deployments, the carmaker is now in the process of installing RTLS hardware and passive EPC tags across one of its plant's quality-assurance areas.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Apr 11, 2012During a test conducted within its quality-assurance area at a German production plant, car manufacturer Daimler found that it could employ passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, in combination with readers and antennas made by real-time location system (RTLS) provider Mojix, to accurately locate and track Mercedes S-Class vehicles. The company now plans to continue and expand its testing, with an eye toward utilizing the technology to replace current manual processes for tracking cars within its factory.

The test was part of a three-year, €45 million ($59 million) project, known as the RFID-based Automotive Network (RAN), that was launched in early 2010 and involves three automakers: Daimler, BMW and Opel (see Germany's RFID-based Automotive Network Gets Rolling), as well as more than 10 automotive suppliers, logistics providers, software firms and research organizations. These include Bosch, Johnson Controls, BLG, DHL, IBM, Siemens, SAP and German research organization Bremen Institute for Production (BIBA). The project is supported by Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

During the proof-of-concept test, Daimler installed a reader antenna over each of 16 workstations.

The RAN project encompasses seven use cases, one of which tracks finished vehicles moving through Daimler's quality-assurance evaluation process.

Once the manufacturing process is complete, the finished vehicles enter the quality-assessment section at Daimler's plant. The cars are moved through various testing stations, at which their engines, electronic components, driving performance and exterior are evaluated and tested. If a vehicle fails to score acceptably well during a given test, it is brought to a quality-assurance zone. If, at any time, these zones are full, however, the cars awaiting evaluation are temporarily stored within a buffer zone.

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