Ford Motor Company’s Land Rover division and Mountain View, California-based Savi have launched a pilot program to deploy an active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system to synchronise the delivery of auto parts from multiple suppliers to Land Rover’s key assembly plant in the West Midlands.
The pilot will enable Land Rover and 18 of its suppliers to better locate, track, and deliver stillages (specialised steel conveyances) that carry bumpers, front grills, suspension parts, moon roofs, and vehicle bodies, among other parts.
The system that is being trialled applies active RFID tags on stillages as they leave supplier facilities, and associates the tag with the car parts carried by the conveyance. Fixed readers are placed at loading and unloading docks, entrances and exits of the suppliers and Land Rover’s assembly plant.
Whenever a tagged stillage passes by a reader, the shipment is logged and location information is transmitted to designated users. Exception alerts are sent when stillages do not arrive when and where they are expected.
Real-time information on RFID-tagged assets will be shared among the partners and automatically transmitted to cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and web-based tracking software.
The RFID project is sponsored by Warwick University, and is funded by $1.2m of the UK central government’s £32m PARD (Premiere Automotive Research and Development) grant.
The PARD program, launched in 2004, is intended to increase the competitiveness of the West Midlands automotive industry by encouraging innovation, modernisation, and technology development. The West Midlands region represents 60 per cent of the UK’s car manufacturing base.