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Ford Motor Enlists RFID Just-In-Time Delivery System

The new logistics system helps ensure 40 to 50 deliveries each day of truck parts that Ford uses at its manufacturing facility within just hours of receipt.

Laurie Sullivan

November 2, 2005

2 Min Read

TNT Logistics NA will deploy WhereNet Corp.'s active radio frequency identification real-time locating system (RTLS) at its facility in Dearborn, Mich., facility where parts are aggregated from multiple suppliers and delivered to Ford Motor Co.'s truck plant, the company said Wednesday.

Improved visibility at this facility will give TNT Logistics better tools to coordinate between 40 and 50 deliveries daily to ensure auto parts arrive at Ford's manufacturing site just in time. "We download and process orders every hour, load the parts on racks, put them on trucks and drive them to the manufacturing line," said Terry McIntyre, manager of corporate services at TNT Logistics. "From the time we get the order until the parts are built into the trucks is about two and a half hours."

The WhereNet platform uses active RFID WhereTag devices and a local infrastructure of wireless WhereLAN locating access points built into the ceiling of the warehouse. It provides real-time location and status information for thousands of racks that hold parts to build new vehicles.

Location sensors built into the ceiling of TNT Logistics warehouse facility collects the data that's fed into WhereNet's application, which interprets the date before converting it into transactional-based information. TIBCO Software Inc. will provide the event processing and real-time visibility software.

The project at TNT's North American facility that serves Ford Motor is estimated to cost "several hundred thousands of dollars," McIntyre said. The Ford Motor truck manufacturing facility is the first plant the automaker has built in nearly 40 years, and has some of the most progressive technology, he said. The WhereNet RTLS architecture also includes WherePort devices located at dock doors at the material sequencing center. These devices trigger the WhereTag to transmit a signal when a forklift loads a rack full of parts on a truck bound for Ford's factory. Through automatic data collection, the WhereNet system confirms the load has been built, and validates the shipping status. The system can trigger an advanced ship notice, so the factory knows what material is in route.

WhereNet has deployed more than 100 RTLS installations at automotive factories worldwide, including Ford's Dearborn facility. TNT Logistics expects to benefit from a reduced risk of business interruption or parts shortages at the assembly line, increased capacity through improved space utilization at the material sequencing center, and improvements in lean manufacturing capability.

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