Gulf States Toyota, a regional, independent Toyota distributor for 145 dealers, plans to use active radio frequency identification (RFID) to track and process more than 190,000 cars annually. The system will be developed by IBM Corp. and WhereNet Corp.
Gulf States Toyota has deployed the active RFID-powered WhereNet vehicle tracking and management system to locate new Toyotas at its 84-acre processing center in Houston. Where staff would “walk the lot” to identify cars for particular dealers in the past, this system uses WhereNet’s real-time locating system technology in tandem with IBM’s business process and integration services to further automate business processes and expedite delivery of vehicles to dealerships across a five-state region. The goal is to reduce processing and labor costs, while achieving better quality and customer service.
The RFID solution enables Gulf States Toyota to track and manage the processing of every new vehicle, as well as to conduct flow analysis for continuous improvement and optimized throughput and quality.
When new vehicles arrive via rail car at the Gulf States Toyota vehicle processing center, each vehicle is assigned an active RFID transmitter that is “married” to the vehicle identification number. The tag remains on the vehicle until it has been customized according to the buyer’s specifications and is ready to ship to one of the 145 dealerships serviced by Gulf States Toyota.
IBM led the overall solution development and project management. This included meshing business process consulting and back-end integration with WhereNet’s architecture, including 40 locating access points and 74 port devices that trigger the car’s RFID tag to emit a signal that automatically records such information as arrival, dwell and departure time of the vehicle without any human intervention.
Furthermore, by incorporating business rules and system alerts based on customer order status and dwell time, 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.
By using the RFID system, Gulf States Toyota expects to realize a complete return on investment in less than one year through numerous benefits, including:
· Reduced labor cost for vehicle processing as the RFID system automates and directs much of the work flow.
· Reduced on-site dwell time enables better yard throughput and responsiveness to dealer and customer demand.
· Higher quality vehicles as the system helps ensure that no process steps are missed and that every vehicle departs in accordance with dealer/customer specifications.