Automotive parts maker Mahle Behr has recently completed a pilot project into inventory management with digital supply chain and packaging expert Surgere. The success of the pilot could see the full deployment of a robotised RFID system at Mahle Behr’s facility in Dayton, Ohio.

The pilot project marked the launch of Surgere’s Robotically Optimised and Balanced Inventory (ROBi) platform. The platform combines autonomous RFID-gathering robot technology provided by Californian provider, Fetch Robotics, with Surgere’s cloud-based asset management and supply chain analytics system, called COS.

The robot, based on Fetch Robotics TagSurveyor product, locates and counts RFID tagged packaging, parts, tools and other assets wherever they are in a given facility, while at the same time building a 3D map of the facility and part location within it.

“Even with WMS [warehouse management systems] in place, many of our clients find the fast-paced automotive inventory storage and warehousing process to be often ad hoc, time-intensive, error-prone and costly,” said William Wappler, president and CEO of Surgere. “After rigorous testing and evaluation, we’ve arrived at a place where our decision was solidly in favour of robotics over drones and other mobile and fixed devices.”

Wappler went on to say that ROBi proved itself a more accurate form of RFID tracking in the automotive environment, something that the system gets on with consistently 24 hours a day. He added that a number of other applications are also underway.

“Make no mistake, ROBi is a game-changer in inventory automation and automotive supply chain digitialisation,” he said. “We are thrilled at the prospects of making our clients more successful.”

Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics added: “We are pleased to partner with Surgere and help to automate inventory with our autonomous robot platform. Fetch’s expertise in robotics and Surgere’s leadership in supply chain combine for a formidable solution to bring more transparency and accuracy to inventory.”