Volkswagen has introduced a new RFID system at its Wolfsburg plant in Germany with support from IBM to improve the efficiency and visibility of its inbound parts handling.
Heralded by the company as “the biggest motor vehicle factory in the world under one roof”, the Wolfsburg facility has a daily production capacity of about 4,000 vehicles and makes the Golf, Golf Plus and Touran. To support this it receives parts and materials from around 1,900 companies on a daily basis.
During a one-year pilot project at the plant around 3,000 containers were fitted with RFID radio transponders and used to track sunroofs for the new Golf. They were tracked through a combination of aerials fitted at the entrance to the facility, forklift-mounted antennas and mobile handheld scanners.
At the facility’s transit stations (such as the one pictured), the antennas on the forklift are now ready to record information from the RFID transponders on specially-equipped containers without the two having to come into contact. The data is automatically transferred into the central goods information system.
According to Head of VW Group Logistics, Thomas Zernechel (pictured left): “The technology that Volkswagen is using optimises the goods-receiving process, reducing it to one single step. It simultaneously identifies four pallets on a forklift and then records them automatically in the stock inventory."
He added that the RFID technology has been refined so that it can also register metal containers, which before had tended to interfere with radio technology.
“Our longterm goal is to implement an integrated, paperless production and logistic chain throughout the whole group,” said Klaus Hardy Mühleck, Group CIO and Head of Group IT at VW. “The pilot project showed how we are able to reliably integrate this innovative RFID technology into our business processes at a low cost.”
Pictured: Head of Project, Marc Wenzel; Klaus Hardy Mühleck, Group CIO and Head of Group IT; and Thomas Zernechel, Head of Logistics.