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March 11, 2009

Volkswagen to introduce new form of IT in material logistics

Components and containers are fitted with a radio transponder and are automatically registered through RFID

By CBR Staff Writer

Volkswagen plans to introduce an up-to-date form of information technology in the area of material logistics which is expected to reduce manual effort by up to 80% at the goods-receiving stage alone.

Volkswagen will introduce this technology in its central logistics hall at the group headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. The implementation follows a one-year pilot project conducted by Volkswagen and IBM, during which both companies tested radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology with suppliers.

Volkswagen has said that RFID is based on a non-contact system for exchanging information via radio waves. Using this system, components and containers that are fitted with a battery free radio transponder are automatically registered by readers at specific transit stations along their way through the chain: First at the supplier’s shipping department, throughout the transportation process until they arrive at the vehicle manufacturer, then during storage, collection and installation in the assembly line. This also occurs when Volkswagen returns the containers to the supplier from empty goods storage.

Volkswagen claims that the new technology saves all the various paper documents and barcode labels that are used throughout its international supply and manufacturing process.

For the pilot project at the Wolfsburg factory, Volkswagen fitted around 3,000 containers with special RFID radio transponders. Aerials fitted at the hall entrances, mobile handheld scanners and forklifts were used to identify these containers and their contents.

Thomas Zernechel, head of group logistics at Volkswagen, said: 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.

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