Based on its standards-based, real-time locating system (RTLS) technology, the WhereNet vehicle tracking and management system (VTMS) software application leverages business rules to automate work flow for automotive manufacturers, distributors, and rental car companies - resulting in reduced processing and labor costs, better quality, and expedited delivery of vehicles by one to three days.
"Off-line processes are frequently a forgotten segment of lean manufacturing, but new technology solutions are now available to drive efficiency and optimization in this area," said Bill McBeath, chief research officer for ChainLink Research. "Without human intervention, the WhereNet system can automatically record accurate, real-time data about the location of every vehicle as they make their way through the various stages of offline processes. This is a very useful tool -- by proactively alerting managers to potential bottlenecks, they can take action to improve the flow and in the process, reduce order-to-delivery cycle time."
The WhereNet VTMS application enables automotive manufacturers, distributors, and rental car companies to track and optimize the processing of every vehicle, as well as conduct flow analysis for continuous improvement and optimized throughput and quality. Automotive OEMs use VTMS in off-line areas to manage post-assembly verification and test processes, as well as quality repair, containment and shipping zones. Vehicle processing centers and fleet and rental car operators use VTMS to increase the velocity of their distribution hubs and improve customer service.
Deployed in more than 80 facilities around the world, all of WhereNet's automotive applications have been proven to deliver a complete return on investment in less than one year. Numerous benefits of the WhereNet VTMS system will yield similar ROI through:
- Reduced labor cost for vehicle processing, as the WhereNet system automates and directs much of the work flow
- Reduced on-site dwell time, enabling better yard throughput and increased responsiveness to dealer and customer demands
- Higher-quality vehicles as the system ensures that no vehicles with known quality defects get shipped. The system also enhances quality by ensuring that no process steps are missed and that every vehicle departs in accordance with dealer/customer specifications. In addition, since the vehicles are processed in the most efficient manner as a result of intelligent move requests driven by the WhereNet system, they are moved less frequently and therefore are less likely to incur damages during processing procedures.
When new vehicles roll off the assembly line in a factory or upon arrival at vehicle processing centers, each vehicle is assigned an active RFID WhereTag transmitter that is "married" to the vehicle identification number (VIN). The WhereTag remains on the vehicle until it has been processed and is ready to ship to its final destination -- either directly to a dealership or to a processing center. The WhereNet RTLS architecture includes an array of WhereLAN locating access points that capture and calculate the location of every tagged asset within an accuracy of 10 feet. The local-area network also leverages WherePort devices that trigger the WhereTag to emit a signal when entering or leaving a specific zone, enabling more granular data capture information.
By tracking and automatically recording the arrival, dwell, and departure time for each vehicle at every step of the process, the solution generates constant location data as well as a historical record of the vehicle's progress through the off-line certification, repair and containment areas. Beyond the obvious ability to locate a unit on demand, the tracking data is also used to monitor such things as adherence to process, process cycle time, and dwell time analysis for off-line areas.
Typically, a VTMS solution is integrated with a manufacturer's quality management system, introducing the ability to plan, execute and monitor processing within the dynamic off-line environment. The system immediately detects quality-hold vehicles, preventing them from inadvertently slipping into the delivery chain where rework costs at dealerships average more than five times the cost of a factory repair.
Furthermore, the WhereNet system incorporates business rules and system alerts based on customer order status and dwell time. Then a logical hierarchy of rules manages the processing of every vehicle in accordance with its assigned status so that critical orders are processed before lower-priority units. Users cannot deviate from the proper sequence without overriding the system and generating an exception report.
"Although we have delivered tremendous value for the automotive industry for several years, we consider our new VTMS solution as a greenfield opportunity to directly impact the distribution chain beyond the factory," said Tom Bacon, vice president of the automotive division for WhereNet. "As we continue to extend our value across the automotive supply chain, the VTMS product will deliver breakthrough benefits by streamlining the vehicle delivery process for every member of the automotive ecosystem -- from factory to distributor to dealer to rental car facility."