RTLS Helps Protect U.S. Troops

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—WhereNet Corp., a Zebra Technologies company announced that Navistar Defense has deployed its active RFID, real-time locating system (RTLS) to automate work-in-process tracking at its West Point, Miss., manufacturing facility.

The RTLS helps reduce production costs and accelerate delivery of MaxxPro MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles for the U.S. Department of Defense. The vehicles protect troops from roadside bombs and other threats in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Implemented in 30 days, the RTLS spans more than one million square feet indoors and out and consists of five wireless WhereLAN location sensors and 13 WhereLAN locating access points that can be used to determine the location of assets as well as for Wi-Fi mobile data communication.

At the beginning of the armor-plating process, 400 active RFID WhereTag transmitters are attached to MRAP chassis. WherePort magnetic ‘exciters’ trigger the transmitters to emit a signal when entering or leaving a work cell, enabling the system to record arrival, dwell and departure time automatically. Then, the WhereNet Visibility Software Suite (VSS) provides visibility for each tagged vehicle, allowing Navistar to track the manufacturing of every MRAP vehicle as it passes through the assembly, paint, testing, adjustment, and inspection processes.

After on-site Defense Department officials perform the final testing on each finished MRAP vehicle, the WhereTag transmitters are removed, and the vehicles are loaded onto flatbed trailers for final delivery.

Navistar says it expects a return on investment in less than one year. Benefits of the system include reduced labor costs, increased throughput and higher-quality vehicles. In fact, Navistar reports that it will install additional WherePort devices this summer to provide more detailed event management reporting from the production line. It is also evaluating WhereNet's vehicle tracking and management system (VTMS) software.

"We are proud to not only support Navistar's production processes, but also to provide value to our troops by shipping MRAP vehicles into theater sooner than ever before to ensure war fighters' safety from improvised explosive devices," says Jason Rushton, system architect for aerospace and defense at Zebra Enterprise Solutions.

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