By Sarah Foradori | February 28, 2017

Any modern business knows that they need to track assets and inventory to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and respond quickly in case of a recall. Vehicle manufacturers are no different. Whether they produce cars, forklifts, motorcycles, or even golf carts, they need complete visibility into their operations.

The challenges that vehicle manufacturers face are twofold:

  1. The must quickly and efficiently move vehicles coming out of production to customers and dealer networks.
  2. They must track developmental vehicles through the research and development process.

The solution? A traceability system that uses passive RFID technology to provide real-time visibility of finished goods as they move through the logistics of the delivery process. The same system also provides real-time visibility of developmental vehicles as they move through development and testing processes. The system specifically implements passive UHF RFID technology and works in tandem with GPS technology to provide real-time “last seen” location data on target vehicles.

In many cases, manufacturers store or stage finished vehicles in large lots, many of which are outdoors. A vehicle tracking system enables the organization to quickly find a target vehicle in a sea of hundreds or even thousands of similar vehicles. It combines fixed RFID readers — to break large geographic areas into smaller, more manageable zones — with handheld RFID readers equipped with GPS technology to identify the exact location of the target vehicle within a specific zone.

How Does It Work?

RFID tags are applied to the finished vehicles at the end of the production process, and fixed RFID readers are placed at the entrance and exit points of each zone. Personnel responsible for moving finished vehicles to holding areas are equipped with GPS-enabled handheld readers.

As vehicles move into or out of a zone, the fixed RFID readers report the movement to the vehicle tracking system. As vehicles are parked within a zone, the personnel scan the RFID tag with the handheld, capturing both the RFID tag ID and the GPS location, which provides the vehicle tracking system with the exact location of the vehicle within the zone. Any vehicle can be located in mere seconds using the software.

The vehicle tracking software application is a web-based application accessible by a browser running on any PC, laptop, or tablet. In the case of outdoor vehicle tracking, the application displays a Google Earth-like image of the area to be tracked. The image is created by performing a Geo Survey of the area, collecting GPS coordinates of the entire perimeter, and loading them into the application.

In the case of indoor vehicle tracking, the system displays a blueprint of the facility in which vehicles are housed. In both indoor and outdoor applications, vehicles are displayed on the map where they were last seen by either a fixed RFID antenna or a handheld RFID reader.

Other Use Cases

Vehicle tracking software has many applications aside from this specific kind automobile tracking. Transportation and logistics companies utilize it to track and find specific tractors and trailers. Material handling equipment manufacturers will find it valuable for end-of-production logistics when they move finished goods from the plant to a dealer or end user.

Ultimately, an RFID vehicle tracking application delivers essential flexibility and scalability for any company that needs to quickly and efficiently track and locate a specific vehicle, or type of vehicle, over a large geographic area or among a dense population of vehicles.

For more information on how your manufacturing business can use passive RFID to simplify vehicle traceability, contact us! You can also download our ebook “Are You Realizing the Full Benefits of RFID?”

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