RFID is Ford's latest 'better idea'

Although TNT Logistics (www.tntlogistics.com) is up for sale by its parent company (see "Market Pulse," p. 34), that hasn't slowed it from expanding use of RFID in its work with Big Three automaker Ford Motor Co. (www.ford.com). Underway is a cooperative initiative at Ford's Dearborn, Mich., truck assembly plant, where TNT manages Ford's Material Sequencing Center (MSC) as a 3PL. Motivation for the innovation came because electronic and manual processes were not connected, resulting in late deliveries, part shortages, and misplaced and lost parts.

Wireless locating sensors from WhereNet Corp. (www.wherenet.com) provide real-time location and status information on mobile racks shared between the plant and TNT's facility. RFID tag signals are triggered by devices in MSC dock doors as full part racks are loaded on trucks ready to move to the plant.

Using middleware software from TIBCO Software Inc. (www.tibco.com), the system confirms the load has been built and validates its ready-to-ship status. It can also automatically send an advanced shipping notice to the factory to alert it that the parts are en route. The system includes automated gate arrival, load and unload rack validation, rack traceability and real-time location system alerts.

Ultimately it's expected the RFID initiative will provide real-time visibility and synchronized, uninterrupted delivery of parts directly to the truck plant's assembly line, helping to automate workflow, reduce inventory and put a halt to interruptions.

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