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Volkswagen Slovakia Gains Efficiency in Its Finishing Process

At its plant in Bratislava, the carmaker has deployed Identec Solutions' active RFID tags, readers and position markers so it can identify when vehicles enter and exit various servicing stations, as well as prevent bottlenecks.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 13, 2012Automobile manufacturer Volkswagen Slovakia is tracking its assembled vehicles as they undergo final servicing and inspection processes at its plant in Bratislava, using a real-time location system (RTLS) provided by Identec Solutions. The RTLS solution makes it possible for the company to improve efficiency during the cars' final production stages, by knowing where individual vehicles are located, as well as preventing bottlenecks at specific service sites. The system enables the company to locate parked vehicles, in addition to identifying when a car enters and exits each of many processes.

The Bratislava facility produces more than 1,400 cars daily, with 400,000 automobiles planned for this year, including several Volkswagen models, as well as Audis, the Skoda Citigo and the SEAT Mii. The plant, which has experienced an increase in production demand during recent years, determined that improving its finishing area's efficiency would help manage that growth.

Volkswagen Slovakia's Jens Wieland
After completing assembly, a vehicle is moved to the finishing area, where it travels through a number of stations while undergoing final quality inspections, as well as possibly spot repairs or other servicing. The precise order or sequence of those processes varies per vehicle. As such, locating particular cars when needed—as well as routing them to the proper area based on prior servicing, and ensuring that the vehicles remain on schedule for shipping—can be a time-consuming process. The RFID system was intended to resolve that problem, by tracking the processes that each vehicle has completed, as well as its specific location as it waits within parking areas between processes. The solution would not only help staff members locate vehicles in real time, but also improve capacity planning for each section of the finishing area.

"Because of the topology of the hall," says Jens Wieland, Volkswagen Slovakia's chief process officer (CPO), the company determined that it would be impossible to implement a solution based on passive RFID tags and readers consisting of gates through which the cars had to pass. The Volkswagen plant required a system that would track every vehicle's entrances and exits at any of the processing zones and parking lots. For that reason, the company deployed a solution employing active RFID technology.

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