Unipart Logistics is working with IT provider RF Code on trials of an active radio frequency identification (RFID) system for use on the vehicles it uses to transport aftermarket parts for the automotive, manufacturing and industrial engineering sectors. 

Unipart will be providing the solution to an as-yet unnamed UK-based car manufacturer. It is currently running as a pilot scheme to assess the worth of capturing automatic data when loaded vehicles travel on their normal routes and monitoring which vehicles are transporting goods to which client. 

The logistics branch is a division of the wider global manufacturer, aftermarket and logistics provider Unipart Group. The first tests started in mid-March and were announced this week. Previous case studies have revealed RFID is less effective when attempting to track aftermarket service parts, because monitoring the movement of cargo being transported on large containers on ships presents more challenges to estimating exact timing.  

Richard Hankinson, Unipart Logistics’ automotive director, commented: “We are delighted to form this strategic alliance with RF Code; it extends the capabilities of the Unipart Group, giving our clients and customers access to advanced asset tracking and management technology to provide real-time finger-tip control of complex supply chains.”

With very precise window times for carmaker’s needing parts at specific times, a delay of even 10 minutes can have negative consequences and significantly hold up the manufacturing process acknowledged Hankinson.

He said that the eventual goal was to determine whether the collection of read data could benefit the provider and explained that the aim was to increase transparency to manufacturers and suppliers, as well as customers at the end of the supply chain. 

Should the RFID trail be successful it is most likely to become a permanent feature for the group. The final installment of the permanent program will also involve additional details such as trucks’ estimated delivery times, tagged cargo, and information regarding each truck’s contents.