UHF RFID readers identify vehicles!
Audi has been using RFID technology in vehicle production in its Hungarian car factory in Győr, which was opened in 2013. The car manufacturer also uses RFID in its first foreign plant for tracking new vehicles through the process of finishing and shipment.
But this is only the first step of a global roll-out plan. RFID integration will be transferred to the German sites in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm as well as to several plants around the world – to the plants in Brussels in Belgium and to San José Chiapa in Mexico, where the latest Audi Q5 will be produced from 2016.
The UHF RFID system went live at the Audi Hungaria Motor Kft, as production started in Győr, Hungary, in June 2013. The system is used to track and trace the finishing and the technical inspection of the A3 saloons and A3 cabriolets that the plant produces. It is also used in vehicle preparation and shipment.
One of the goals is to have traceability in terms of which process stage each vehicle has reached, within finishing, storage or shipment. The workloads of the drivers who locate and transport the vehicles is also reduced.
Reduce manual effort
The company decided to create a “template” system at its new plant in Hungary, where the integration was easier than in plants that already had procedures for tracking vehicles in operation.
Manual systems, which are typically used in the other plants, require the drivers to complete paperwork so that the vehicles move through the finishing process. At some sites they also require barcode scanning. This is not only labour intensive, but also means that management only have a limited awareness of the process of finishing and shipping.
Readers identify vehicles at work stations
During the finishing process, a driver drives the car to the relevant work station, then to a hub, and from there onto a truck or train, which carries out the transportation of the vehicles produced in Győr.
Each vehicle receives an RFID tag on the inside of the front bumper after assembly, for identification.
On the production line, the vehicle identification number (VIN) and another ID number, which is used at the assembly stations, is written onto the RFID tag. For vehicle identification purposes, approximately 50 stationary readers were installed along the assembly line, as well as at the gates and passages leading to and from the storage areas. The workers also have a handheld reader as a back-up.
Visibility at every finishing and control station
When driving past an RFID reader, the tag ID number is captured and transferred to the backend system. The software, which runs on any reader, interprets the read events, filters unnecessary data or false positive reads and passes the relevant information to the Audi-business middleware, which then transmits this data to the Audi backend system.
The driver passes through a series of finishing and control stations and with each read operation, a record is created documenting the steps that have been carried out. At the same time, the software manages and monitors the RFID hardware and software status.
Tracking in car parks
RFID data capture is also carried out in open parking lots, where the vehicles are driven after the finishing work is completed. Some parking spaces are equipped with RFID tags. During the parking process, the driver reads the parking space and bumper UHF tag, capturing the vehicle location with a handheld reader.
Since the system has been deployed, transparency has increased, resulting in improved vehicle management processes at the plant. According to Audi, time can be saved by eliminating manual scanning, because the driver does not have to climb out of the car every time to scan barcodes or fill in forms.